Présidentielle américaine 2012: C’était pas les Hispaniques, imbécile ! (It was the elderly black women, stupid !)

13 juin, 2013
http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/aunt-jemima-racist-ads.jpgIt ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time. Republican party strategist
The all-female focus group began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”
“I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.” “Young people,” one woman called out. “Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.” When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.” (…) The session with the young men was equally jarring. None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out. (…) During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.” “There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”
Several G.O.P. digital specialists told me that, in addition, they found it difficult to recruit talent because of the values espoused by the party. “I know a lot of people who do technology for a living,” Turk said. “And almost universally, there’s a libertarian streak that runs through them — information should be free, do your own thing and leave me alone, that sort of mind-set. That’s very much what the Internet is. And almost to a person that I’ve talked to, they say, ‘Yeah, I would probably vote for Republicans, but I can’t get past the gay-marriage ban, the abortion stance, all of these social causes.’ Almost universally, they see a future where you have more options, not less. So questions about whether you can be married to the person you want to be married to just flies in the face of the future. They don’t want to be part of an organization that puts them squarely on the wrong side of history.” Many young conservatives also said that technological innovation runs at cross-purposes with the party’s corporate rigidity. “There’s a feeling that Republican politics are more hierarchical than in the Democratic Party,” Ben Domenech, a 31-year-old blogger and research fellow at the libertarian Heartland Institute, told me. “There are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important.’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”
The Republicans did in fact recently have a David Plouffe of their own. As one G.O.P. techie elegantly put it, “We were the smart ones, back in ’04, eons ago.” Referring to the campaign that re-elected George W. Bush, Plouffe told me: “You know how in fantasy baseball you imagine putting up your team against the 1927 Yankees? We would’ve liked to have faced off against the 2004 Republicans. Beating the Clintons” — during the 2008 primaries — “that was, in terms of scale of difficulty, significantly above beating Romney. But going up against the Bushies — that would’ve been something we all would’ve relished.” Plouffe wasn’t referring to competing against Bush’s oft-described architect, Karl Rove — but rather, against the campaign manager, Ken Mehlman. “Mehlman got technology and organization and the truth is — I think it’s completely misunderstood — it was Ken’s campaign,” Plouffe said. (…) Mehlman, according to Bush campaign officials, persuaded Rove to invest heavily in microtargeting (a data-driven means of identifying and reaching select groups of voters), which helped deliver Ohio and thus the election. He advocated reaching out to minority voters both as Bush’s campaign manager and later as chairman of the R.N.C., where he also instructed his staff to read “Moneyball.” “I was like, ‘What does a baseball book have to do with politics?’ ” said Michael Turk, who worked for Mehlman at the R.N.C. “Once I actually took the time to digest it, I realized what he was trying to do — which was exactly the kind of thing that the Obama team just did: understanding that not every election is about home runs but instead getting a whole bunch of singles together that eventually add up to a win.”
“There’s an important book by Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon called ‘The Real Majority,’ published in 1970,” Mehlman said as he leaned back in his chair. “The book explains in part how the Republican Party would go on to win five out of six presidential elections through the eyes of the ‘typical’ voter — a working-class couple in Dayton, Ohio. They’re white, worried about crime, feel burdened by taxes and feel like too many Democrats don’t understand these concerns.” Today’s typical voter, he went on to say, could be that same white couple in Dayton. “But here’s the difference,” he said. ‘They worry about economic mobility — can their kids get ahead or even keep up. Their next-door neighbors are Latino whose mom gets concerned when she hears talk about self-deportation or no driver’s licenses. And that couple has a gay niece and an African-American brother-in-law. And too many folks like the couple in Dayton today wonder if some of the G.O.P. understands their lives anymore.” I asked him whether, as even some Republicans have suggested, Ronald Reagan would have trouble building a winning coalition today. “I think he could win, partly because Reagan wouldn’t be the Reagan he was in 1980,” Mehlman replied. “Reagan had an unbelievable intuitive understanding of the electorate, because he’d spent his life as the president of a large union, as an actor who understands his audience, as the governor of the largest state, as a corporate spokesman who traveled — Reagan spent his life listening to people and learning from them and adapting to their concerns. That’s why there were Reagan Democrats — ethnics, working-class voters, Southern voters. So I think a modern Reagan would understand the demography and where the new voters are and would’ve applied his principles accordingly.”
But could a modern-day Reagan, even with Ken Mehlman running his campaign, overcome the party’s angry and antiquated image? To win, a reincarnated Reagan — or a Rubio or a Chris Christie or a Bobby Jindal — would still have to satisfy his base of hard-line conservatives and captivate a new generation of voters at the same time. I ran this quandary by Kristen Soltis Anderson. “It’s a big challenge,” she acknowledged. “But I think that if you can earn the trust of the people, there are ways you can say, ‘Here’s why I take this position.’ I don’t know that someone like Rubio, who may be young and attractive and well spoken, could attract young voters despite his views on gay marriage. I do think that in the absence of a very compelling reason to vote for a candidate, those social issues can be deal-breakers for young voters. The challenge is: Can you make a case that’s so compelling that you can overcome those deal-breaker issues? And I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Bret Jacobson, the Red Edge entrepreneur, insisted that the solution was ultimately a simple one. “I think the answer for a vibrant Republican Party is to make our North Star empowering every individual in this country to follow their own dream, free of legislative excesses,” he told me. “There are millions of Americans who take seriously their religious culture as well as traditions that have been handed down for centuries. And the party has to empower them to fight those battles in the social sphere, not in the government sphere. That’s harder work than taking control of the country for four years. But it’s the appropriate battle.” Robert Draper
Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos. David Plouffe (Democratic strategist)
The sleeping giant of the last election wasn’t Hispanics; it was elderly black women, terrified of media claims that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote and determined to keep the first African-American president in the White House. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, 10 percent more blacks voted in 2012 compared to 2008, even beating white voters, the usual turnout champions. Eligible black voters turned out at rate of 66.2 percent, compared to 64.1 percent of eligible white voters. Only 48 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters went to the polls. (Only two groups voted in larger numbers in 2012 compared to 2008: blacks aged 45-64, and blacks over the age of 65 — mostly elderly black women. In raw numbers, nearly twice as many blacks voted as Hispanics, and nine times as many whites voted as Hispanics. (Ninety-eight million whites, 18 million blacks and 11 million Hispanics.) Ann Coulter
Amnesty is a gift to employers, not employees. The (pro-amnesty) Pew Research Hispanic Center has produced poll after poll showing that Hispanics don’t care about amnesty. In a poll last fall, Hispanic voters said they cared more about education, jobs and health care than immigration. They even care more about the federal budget deficit than immigration! (…) Who convinced Republicans that Hispanic wages aren’t low enough and what they really need is an influx of low-wage workers competing for their jobs? Maybe the greedy businessmen now running the Republican Party should talk with their Hispanic maids sometime. Ask Juanita if she’d like to have seven new immigrants competing with her for the opportunity to clean other people’s houses, so that her wages can be dropped from $20 an hour to $10 an hour. Ann Coulter

A l’heure où, avec les scandales qui s’accumulent, les obamamanes découvrent enfin les vraies couleurs de l’Illusioniste en chef de Chicago

Et que, face à la nouvelle législation sur l’immigration promise depuis longtemps par l’Administration Obama, nombre de Républicains semblent être tentés par l’amnistie …

Retour, avec l’éditorialiste républicaine Ann Coulter, sur le prétendu épouvantail du vote hispanique qui en novembre dernier aurait coulé Romney

Pour rappeler que lesdits hispaniques n’ont non seulement voté qu’à 48% (contre plus de 66% et 64% pour les noirs et les blancs) …

Mais qu’ils ne sont peut-être pas si pressés de voir une arrivée massive d’immigrants pousser leurs propres salaires vers le bas  …

If the GOP is this stupid, it deserves to die

Ann Coulter

6/12/2013

Democrats terrify Hispanics into thinking they’ll be lynched if they vote for Republicans, and then turn around and taunt Republicans for not winning a majority of the Hispanic vote.

This line of attack has real resonance with our stupidest Republicans. (Proposed Republican primary targets: Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.) Which explains why Republicans are devoting all their energy to slightly increasing their share of the Hispanic vote while alienating everyone else in America.

It must be fun for liberals to manipulate Republicans into focusing on hopeless causes. Why don’t Democrats waste their time trying to win the votes of gun owners?

As journalist Steve Sailer recently pointed out, the Hispanic vote terrifying Republicans isn’t that big. It actually declined in 2012. The Census Bureau finally released the real voter turnout numbers from the last election, and the Hispanic vote came in at only 8.4 percent of the electorate — not the 10 percent claimed by the pro-amnesty crowd.

The sleeping giant of the last election wasn’t Hispanics; it was elderly black women, terrified of media claims that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote and determined to keep the first African-American president in the White House.

Contrary to everyone’s expectations, 10 percent more blacks voted in 2012 compared to 2008, even beating white voters, the usual turnout champions. Eligible black voters turned out at rate of 66.2 percent, compared to 64.1 percent of eligible white voters. Only 48 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters went to the polls.

No one saw this coming, which is probably why Gallup had Romney up by 5 points before Hurricane Sandy hit, and up by 1 point in its last pre-election poll after the hurricane.

Only two groups voted in larger numbers in 2012 compared to 2008: blacks aged 45-64, and blacks over the age of 65 — mostly elderly black women.

In raw numbers, nearly twice as many blacks voted as Hispanics, and nine times as many whites voted as Hispanics. (Ninety-eight million whites, 18 million blacks and 11 million Hispanics.)

So, naturally, the Republican Party’s entire battle plan going forward is to win slightly more votes from 8.4 percent of the electorate by giving them something they don’t want.

As Byron York has shown, even if Mitt Romney had won 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost. No Republican presidential candidate in at least 50 years has won even half of the Hispanic vote.

In the presidential election immediately after Reagan signed an amnesty bill in 1986, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote actually declined from 37 percent to 30 percent — and that was in a landslide election for the GOP. Combined, the two Bush presidents averaged 32.5 percent of the Hispanic vote — and they have Hispanics in their family Christmas cards.

John McCain, the nation’s leading amnesty proponent, won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, not much more than anti-amnesty Romney’s 27 percent.

Amnesty is a gift to employers, not employees.

The (pro-amnesty) Pew Research Hispanic Center has produced poll after poll showing that Hispanics don’t care about amnesty. In a poll last fall, Hispanic voters said they cared more about education, jobs and health care than immigration. They even care more about the federal budget deficit than immigration! (To put that in perspective, the next item on their list of concerns was “scratchy towels.”)

Also, note that Pew asked about “immigration,” not “amnesty.” Those Hispanics who said they cared about immigration might care about it the way I care about it — by supporting a fence and E-Verify.

Who convinced Republicans that Hispanic wages aren’t low enough and what they really need is an influx of low-wage workers competing for their jobs?

Maybe the greedy businessmen now running the Republican Party should talk with their Hispanic maids sometime. Ask Juanita if she’d like to have seven new immigrants competing with her for the opportunity to clean other people’s houses, so that her wages can be dropped from $20 an hour to $10 an hour.

A wise Latina, A.J. Delgado, recently explained on Mediaite.com why amnesty won’t win Republicans the Hispanic vote — even if they get credit for it. Her very first argument was: “Latinos will resent the added competition for jobs.”

But rich businessmen don’t care. Big Republican donors — and their campaign consultants — just want to make money. They don’t care about Hispanics, and they certainly don’t care what happens to the country. If the country is hurt, I don’t care, as long as I am doing better! This is the very definition of treason.

Hispanic voters are a small portion of the electorate. They don’t want amnesty, and they’re hopeless Democrats. So Republicans have decided the path to victory is to flood the country with lots more of them!

It’s as if Republicans convinced Democrats to fixate on banning birth control to win more pro-life voters. This would be great for Republicans because Democrats will never win a majority of pro-life voters, and about as many pro-lifers care about birth control as Hispanics care about amnesty.

But that still wouldn’t be as idiotic as what Republicans are doing because, according to Gallup, pro-lifers are nearly half of the electorate. Hispanics are only 8.4 percent of the electorate.

And it still wouldn’t be as stupid as the GOP pushing amnesty, because banning birth control wouldn’t create millions more voters who consistently vote against the Democrats.

Listening to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus burble a few weeks ago on “Fox News Sunday” about how amnesty is going to push the Republicans to new electoral heights, one is reminded of Democratic pollster Pat Caddell’s reason for refusing to become a Republican: No matter how enraged he gets at Democratic corruption, he says he can’t bear to join such a stupid party as the GOP.

Voir aussi:

Hispanics favor Dems but didn’t decide election

November 22, 2012

Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent

The Washington Examiner

After moments of panic in the immediate aftermath of Mitt Romney’s defeat, some Republicans and conservatives are regaining their equilibrium on the issue of what the GOP should do about immigration and the Hispanic vote.

They’re looking at key questions from the campaign, like how much of Barack Obama’s victory was attributable to Hispanic support. They’re also looking at the Hispanic electorate itself to see how big a role immigration, versus a wide range of other issues, played in voting decisions. The goal, of course, is to win a larger portion of the Hispanic vote, but first to take a clear-eyed look at what actually happened on Nov. 6.

And the lesson for Republicans is: Take your time. Calmly reassess your positions. Don’t pander.

The first question is whether Hispanic voters gave Obama his margin of victory. In a recent analysis, the New York Times’ Allison Kopicki and Will Irving looked at vote totals in each state, plus the percentage of the vote cast by Hispanics, to see what the outcome would have been had Hispanics voted differently.

For example, they looked at Wisconsin, a state the Romney-Ryan team hoped to win. Hispanics weren’t a huge part of the total vote — about 4 percent, according to the exit polls — and Obama won big among them, 65 percent to 31 percent. But going through the totals, Kopicki and Irving concluded that even if every single Hispanic voter in Wisconsin had cast a ballot for Romney, Obama still would have won.

They found the same result for New Hampshire and Iowa, two other swing states Romney looked to win.

Then there was Ohio. According to the exit polls, Obama won 53 percent of the Hispanic vote there. But given how decisively Obama won other voting groups, Kopicki and Irving found that the president would have prevailed in Ohio even if he had won just 22 percent of the Hispanic vote. Put another way, even if Romney had won a stratospheric 78 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost Ohio.

In Virginia, Obama won the Latino vote 65 percent to 33 percent. Kopicki and Irving found that if those numbers had been reversed — if Romney had won an unprecedented 65 percent of the Latino vote — Obama still would have won Virginia.

Even in states where the Hispanic vote played a bigger role, Romney could have made significant gains among Hispanics and still lost. In Colorado, for example, the president won Hispanics by a huge margin, 75 percent to 23 percent. Kopicki and Irving found that Romney could have increased his margin to 42 percent — a major improvement for a Republican — and still come up short in Colorado.

The bottom line is that even if Romney had made historic gains among Hispanic voters, he still would have lost the election. That means Romney underperformed among more than just Hispanic voters. And that means winning more Hispanic votes is far from the GOP’s only challenge.

Then there is the question of what motivates Hispanic voters. "They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example)," columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote Nov. 8. "The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants." Krauthammer urged Republicans to accept amnesty for illegals, accompanied by a completed border fence.

Some other conservatives echoed Krauthammer’s sentiments. But social scientist Charles Murray looked across a broad range of data and found little to support the notion that Hispanics are natural Republicans. Hispanics "aren’t more religious than everyone else … aren’t married more than everyone else … aren’t more conservative than everyone else," Murray wrote. In addition, Hispanics don’t work harder than other groups and are only slightly more pro-life than the rest of the population.

The available data, Murray concluded, "paint a portrait that gives no reason to think that Republicans have an untapped pool of social conservatives to help them win elections."

In addition, exit poll information suggests Hispanics voted on a number of issues beyond illegal immigration — and those issues favored Democrats. A majority of Hispanics who voted Nov. 6 favored keeping Obamacare. A majority favored higher taxes for higher earners. A majority — two-thirds, in fact — said abortion should be legal.

None of this is to say the GOP shouldn’t seek more Hispanic votes. There are opportunities; for example, Romney made significant inroads among Hispanic voters with college degrees. But the fact is, Republicans had a serious problem with lots of voters, as well as potential voters who didn’t go to the polls. The Hispanic vote was just part of it.

Byron York, The Examiner’s chief political correspondent, can be contacted at byork@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blog posts appear on washingtonexaminer.com.

Voir encore:

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?

Robert Draper

The New York Times

February 14, 2013

One afternoon last month, I paid a visit to two young Republicans named Bret Jacobson and Ian Spencer, who work in a small office in Arlington, Va., situated above an antique store and adjacent to a Japanese auto shop. Their five-man company, Red Edge, is a digital-advocacy group for conservative causes, and their days are typically spent designing software applications for groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Lately, however, Jacobson and Spencer have taken up evangelizing — and the sermon, delivered day after day to fellow conservatives in the form of a 61-point presentation, is a pitiless we-told-you-so elucidation of the ways in which Democrats have overwhelmed Republicans with their technological superiority.

They walked me through a series of slides showing the wide discrepancies between the two campaigns. “And just to make them feel really bad,” Jacobson said as he punched another image onto the overhead screen. “We say, ‘Just wait — this is the most important slide.’ And this is what kills them, because conservatives always look at young voters like the hot girl they could never date.” He read aloud from the text: “1.25 million more young people supported Obama in 2012 over 2008.”

In the light of his Apple monitor, Jacobson’s grin took on a Luciferian glow. He is 33, wiry and well dressed and has the twitchy manner of a highly caffeinated techie. “And then we continue with the cavalcade of pain,” he said. The next chart showed that while the Romney campaign raised slightly more money from its online ads than it spent on them, Obama’s team more than doubled the return on its online-ad investment.

Spencer chimed in: “That’s when one of our clients moaned, ‘It’s even worse than I thought.’ ” Spencer, who is 29, possesses the insectlike eyes of a committed programmer. He and Jacobson are alumni of the University of Oregon, where they both worked on the Commentator, a conservative alternative paper whose slogan was, “Free Minds, Free Markets, Free Booze.”

“Then, once people think we’ve gotten them through the worst,” Jacobson said, “we pile on more — just the way Obama did.” He put up Slide 26, titled, “Running Up the Score.” “Obama was the very first candidate to appear on Reddit. We ask our clients, ‘Do you know what Reddit is?’ And only one of them did. Then we show them this photo of Obama hugging his wife with the caption ‘Four more years’ — an image no conservative likes. And we tell them, ‘Because of the way the Obama campaign used things like Reddit, that photo is the single-most popular image ever seen on Twitter or Facebook.’ Just to make sure there’s plenty of salt in the wound.”

Back in August 2011, Jacobson wrote an op-ed in Forbes alerting Republicans to Obama’s lead on the digital front. His warnings were disregarded. Then last summer, he and Spencer approached the conservative super PAC American Crossroads with their digital-tool-building strategies and, they say, were politely ignored. It’s understandable, then, that a touch of schadenfreude is evident when Jacobson and Spencer receive the policy-group gurus and trade-association lobbyists who file into Red Edges’s office to receive a comeuppance.

“Business is booming for us,” Jacobson said. “We’ll double or triple our bottom line this year, easily. But this isn’t about getting new business. We need the entire right side of the aisle to get smart fast. And the only way they can do that is to appreciate how big the chasm was.”

Exhibit A is the performance of the Romney brain trust, which has suffered an unusually vigorous postelection thrashing for badly losing a winnable race. Criticism begins with the candidate — a self-described data-driven chief executive who put his trust in alarmingly off-the-mark internal polls and apparently did not think to ask his subordinates why, for example, they were operating on the assumption that fewer black voters would turn out for Obama than in 2008. Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, may well be remembered by historians, as one House Republican senior staff member put it to me, “as the last guy to run a presidential campaign who never tweeted.” (“It was raised many times with him,” a senior Romney official told me, “and he was very categorical about not wanting to and not thinking it was worth it.”)

Under the stewardship of Zac Moffatt, whose firm, Targeted Victory, commandeered the 2012 digital operations of the Romney campaign, American Crossroads and the Republican National Committee, Team Romney managed to connect with 12 million Facebook friends, triple that of Obama’s operation in 2008; but Obama in 2012 accrued 33 million friends and deployed them as online ambassadors who in turn contacted their Facebook friends, thereby demonstrably increasing the campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts in a way that dwarfed the Republicans’. While Romney’s much-hyped get-out-the-vote digital tool, Orca, famously crashed on Election Day, Obama’s digital team unveiled Narwhal, a state-of-the-art data platform that gave every member of the campaign instant access to continuously updated information on voters, volunteer availability and phone-bank activity. And despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the Romney television-ad-making apparatus proved to be no match for the Obama operation, which enlisted Rentrak, the data corporation for satellite and cable companies, through which it accrued an entirely new layer of information about each and every consumer, giving the campaign the ability to customize cable TV ads.

“They were playing chess while we were playing checkers,” a senior member of the campaign’s digital team somberly told another top Romney aide shortly after the election. Later, the top aide would participate in a postelection forum with Obama’s campaign manager. He told me (albeit, like a few people I spoke to, under the condition that he not be identified criticizing his party), “I remember thinking, when Jim Messina was going over the specifics of how they broke down and targeted the electorate: ‘I can’t play this game. I have to play a different game, so that I don’t look like an idiot in front of all these people.’ ”

But the problem for the G.O.P. extends well beyond its flawed candidate and his flawed operation. The unnerving truth, which the Red Edge team and other younger conservatives worry that their leaders have yet to appreciate, is that the Republican Party’s technological deficiencies barely begin to explain why the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The party brand — which is to say, its message and its messengers — has become practically abhorrent to emerging demographic groups like Latinos and African-Americans, not to mention an entire generation of young voters. As one of the party’s most highly respected strategists told me: “It ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time.”

It was not long after the election that elder statesmen of the G.O.P. began offering assurances that all would soon be right. But younger Republicans were not buying it. On Dec. 6, Moffatt addressed an audience of party digital specialists at the R.N.C.’s Capitol Hill Club. Moffatt spoke confidently about how, among other things, the Romney digital team had pretty much all the same tools the Obama campaign possessed. Bret Jacobson was shocked when he read about Moffatt’s claim the next day. “That’s like saying, ‘This Potemkin village will bring us all prosperity!’ ” Jacobson told me. “There’s something to be said for putting on a happy face — except when it makes you sound like Baghdad Bob.”

A few days after the Moffatt gathering, the R.N.C.’s chairman, Reince Priebus, announced that the committee would conduct a wide-ranging investigation — called the Growth and Opportunity Project — into the ways the party was going astray. To guide the investigation were familiar names, like the former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, the longtime Florida operative Sally Bradshaw and the R.N.C. veteran Henry Barbour. Erik Telford, the 28-year-old founder of the RightOnline bloggers’ convention, told me that he found himself wondering aloud: “Do you want an aggressive investigation from people who’ve built their careers on asking skeptical questions? Or do you want a report from people who are symptomatic of what’s gone wrong?”

Equally galling to younger Republicans was the op-ed Stuart Stevens wrote in The Washington Post on Nov. 28. In it, Romney’s top strategist struck an unrepentant tone, proudly noting that the candidate “carried the majority of middle-class voters” and that the party therefore “must be doing something right.” From her office near the Capitol, Kristen Soltis Anderson, a 28-year-old G.O.P. pollster, tried not to come unglued. “But you didn’t win the election,” she told me she thought at the time. “I’m really glad you scored that touchdown in the third quarter, I am — but you lost the game!”

Anderson is a fantasy-football fanatic, with the rat-a-tat argumentative cadence that gives her away as a former high-school debater. Upon graduating from college, she became the lead singer of the Frustrations, a rock-ska group that folded, as only a D.C.-based band could, when one member decided to attend law school and another needed more time to study for the bar exam. Anderson, for her part, is now a pollster and vice president of the Winston Group. Like the Red Edge partners and virtually every other young Republican with whom I spoke, she regards herself as a socially tolerant, limited-government fiscal conservative. (Today Republicans of all age groups strenuously avoid describing themselves as “moderate,” a term that the far right has made radioactive.) Camera-ready and compulsively perky — she has twice appeared on Bill Maher’s ”Real Time” panel as a token conservative — she nonetheless lapses into despondency when talking about her party’s current state of denial. During one of the postelection panels, Anderson heard a journalist talk about his interviews with Romney staff members who had hoped to build a winning coalition of white voters. “That just stunned me,” she told me one afternoon over coffee. “I thought: Did you not see the census? Because there was one! And it had some pretty big news — like that America’s biggest growing population is the Latino community! Surprise, surprise! How have we not grasped that this is going to be really important?”

One afternoon last month, I flew with Anderson to Columbus, Ohio, to watch her conduct two focus groups. The first consisted of 10 single, middle-class women in their 20s; the second, of 10 20-something men who were either jobless or employed but seeking better work. All of them voted for Obama but did not identify themselves as committed Democrats and were sufficiently ambivalent about the president’s performance that Anderson deemed them within reach of the Republicans. Each group sat around a large conference table with the pollster, while I viewed the proceedings from behind a panel of one-way glass.

The all-female focus group began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”

About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out.

“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

Anderson concluded the group on a somewhat beseeching note. “Let’s talk about Republicans,” she said. “What if anything could they do to earn your vote?”

A self-identified anti-abortion, “very conservative” 27-year-old Obama voter named Gretchen replied: “Don’t be so right wing! You know, on abortion, they’re so out there. That all-or-nothing type of thing, that’s the way Romney came across. And you know, come up with ways to compromise.”

“What would be the sign to you that the Republican Party is moving in the right direction?” Anderson asked them.

“Maybe actually pass something?” suggested a 28-year-old schoolteacher named Courtney, who also identified herself as conservative.

The session with the young men was equally jarring. None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out.

Showing a reverence for understatement, Anderson said: “A lot of those words you used to describe Republicans are negative. What could they say or do to make you feel more positive about the Republican Party?”

“Be more pro-science,” said a 22-year-old moderate named Jack. “Embrace technology and change.”

“Stick to your strong suit,” advised Nick, a 23-year-old African-American. “Clearly social issues aren’t your strong suit. Stop trying to fight the battle that’s already been fought and trying to bring back a movement. Get over it — you lost.”

Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando. The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”

“There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”

Of course, many conservatives like their brand just the way it is, regardless of what century it seems to belong to. Anderson did not relish a tug of war over the party’s identity between them and more open-minded Republicans. She talked to me about Jon Huntsman, the presidential candidate whose positions on climate change and social issues she admired, and the unseemly spectacle of his denigrating the far right. To prosper, the party should not have to eat its own, she maintained. Still, to hear her focus-group subjects tell it, the voice of today’s G.O.P. is repellent to young voters. Can that voice, belonging to the party’s most fevered members, still be accommodated even as young Republicans seek to bring their party into the modern era?

This conundrum has been a frequent postelection topic as youthful conservative dissidents huddle in taverns and homes and — among friends, in the manner of early-20th-century Bolsheviks — proceed to speak the unspeakable about the ruling elite. I sat in on one such gathering on a Saturday evening in early February — convened at a Russian bar in Midtown Manhattan, over Baltika beers. The group of a half-dozen or so conservative pundits and consultants calls itself Proximus, which is Latin for “next,” and they seem to revel in their internal disagreements. One of them argued, “Not all regulation is bad,” while another countered, “I hate all regulations, every single one of them” — including, he cheerfully admitted, minimum-wage and child-labor laws. Nonetheless, the focal point of Proximus’s mission is not policy formulation but salesmanship: how to bring new voters into the fold while remaining true to conservative principles.

“This is a long-term play,” conceded John Goodwin, a founder of the group and former chief of staff to the outspoken conservative congressman Raúl Labrador. “This isn’t going to happen by 2014. But we want to be able to show voters that we have a diversity of opinion. Right now, Republicans have such a small number of vocal messengers. What we want to do is add more microphones and eventually drown out the others.”

“And we can’t be afraid to call out Rush Limbaugh,” said Goodwin’s fiancée, S. E. Cupp, a New York Daily News columnist and a co-host of ”The Cycle” on MSNBC. “If we can get three Republicans on three different networks saying, ‘What Rush Limbaugh said is crazy and stupid and dangerous,’ maybe that’ll give other Republicans cover” to denounce the talk-show host as well.

Cupp, who is 33, defines her brand of conservatism as “rational — and optimistic!” She is staunchly anti-abortion but also pro-gay-marriage and a “warheads on foreheads” hawk whose heroes are Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley Jr. Like many Republicans today — and indeed like liberal Democrats in the 1980s, before Bill Clinton came along and charted a more centrist course — Cupp finds herself in the unenviable position of maintaining that Americans largely side with her party’s worldview, even if their votes suggest otherwise. “Public polling still puts the country center-right on a host of issues,” she told me.

The problem is that her party’s loudest voices sound far more right than center. The voters in Kristen Soltis Anderson’s focus groups condemned Republicans for their unchecked hatred of Obama and for threatening to take away financing for Planned Parenthood, ban abortion, outlaw gay marriage and wage war. From where they stood, at the center-right of S. E. Cupp’s domain, the party had been dragged well out of plain view.

Proximus seeks to marginalize the more strident talking heads by offering itself up to — or if necessary, forcing itself upon — the party as a 21st-century mouthpiece. “If I were training a candidate who’s against gay marriage,” Cupp told me, “I’d say: ‘Don’t change your beliefs, just say legislatively this is not a priority, and I’m not going to take away someone’s right. And if abortion or gay marriage is your No. 1 issue, I’m not your guy.’ ”

I tried to imagine how Cupp’s kinder-gentler message-coaching would go over with the Tea Party, a group that was never mentioned by the young Republicans I spoke with until I broached it. Still, the influence of the far right on the party’s image remains hard to ignore. When I brought up the subject of the Tea Party to Cupp, she said: “People aren’t repelled by the idea of limited government or balancing the budget or lowering taxes. Those Tea Party principles are incredibly popular with the public, even if they don’t know it. Again, that’s a messaging issue, that’s not a principle issue.”

She went on to say, “I don’t think we win by subtraction” — meaning, by casting out the party’s right wing to entice the centrists. Instead, Cupp and her fellow travelers hope to revive Lee Atwater’s bygone “big tent,” under which gay people and Tea Party members and isolationists and neocons would coexist without rancor. But Atwater, the legendary R.N.C. chairman, did not have to worry about freelance voices like Limbaugh and Todd Akin offending whole swaths of emerging demographic groups. Nor during the Atwater era, when Ronald Reagan was president, did the party’s most extreme wing intimidate other Republicans into legislating like extremists themselves, thereby further tarnishing the party’s image. When I mentioned this to the Proximus gathering, Goodwin explained the dilemma faced by Republicans in Congress. “What forces them to vote that way, 9 times out of 10, is a fear of a primary challenge,” he said. “What we hope to accomplish is to bring more voters into Republican primaries, so that it isn’t just the far right that shows up at the polls.”

The dilemma, Goodwin acknowledged, is that the far-right rhetoric may well repel such voters from participating in G.O.P. primaries to begin with. “We recognize that this isn’t something that’s going to happen anytime soon,” he said.

On Nov. 30, more than 2,000 progressives shuffled into the Washington Convention Center to participate in RootsCamp, an annual series of seminars hosted by the New Organizing Institute, where the most cutting-edge digital and grass-roots organizing techniques are discussed. The shaggy and the achingly earnest are well represented at RootsCamp, which makes it an easy target of derision from the right. A reporter from the conservative publication The Daily Caller attended the postelection gathering in 2010 and made great sport of the “unconference,” with its self-conscious inclusiveness, which the reporter termed “multilingual, multicultural and multi-unpurposeful.”

But the handful of conservatives who attended the conference this past November were in no mood to sneer. One was Patrick Ruffini, a 34-year-old leader of the G.O.P.’s young-and-restless digerati. At RootsCamp, his breathless tweets of the sessions held by top Obama organizers — “In eight years, calling people will be obsolete”; “Digital organizing director and field director will be one and the same” — set off a buzz among Republican techies. Ruffini was plainly impressed by the openness of the experience. “I’m like, Wow, they’re doing this in front of 2,000 people, and the system seems to actually work,” he told me a month later. “The thing I was struck by at RootsCamp was that in many ways, the Democratic technology ecosystem has embraced the free market — whereas the Republican one sort of runs on socialism, with the R.N.C. being the overlord.”

The success of the RootsCamp, and its smaller and more intensive offshoot gathering, the New Media Boot Camp, helps explain the yawning digital divide between the two parties. In 2006, a few holdovers from the Howard Dean and John Kerry campaigns eschewed lucrative offers from Washington consulting firms in order to devote some of their time to the communal information-sharing ideals of the New Organizing Institute. Since then, numerous Boot Camp alumni have gone on to help run the tech operations of the Obama campaign and throughout the Democratic Party infrastructure, while RootsCamp has served as a crash course in best practices for thousands of lefties.

Young Republicans now lament that no one from their side has stepped up to organize a conservative version of RootsCamp. Michael Turk, a 42-year-old Republican digital guru, suggested that the failure of G.O.P. technologists to do this springs from a uniquely Republican trait. “They all wanted to make money,” he said. “And so as a result, Katie Harbath, who was one of my deputies at the R.N.C., is now at Facebook, and Mindy Finn” — a longtime G.O.P. digital operative — “is at Twitter, and Patrick and I each started our own companies. We all found ways to parlay that into a living for our families, as opposed to just doing it for the cause.”

Several G.O.P. digital specialists told me that, in addition, they found it difficult to recruit talent because of the values espoused by the party. “I know a lot of people who do technology for a living,” Turk said. “And almost universally, there’s a libertarian streak that runs through them — information should be free, do your own thing and leave me alone, that sort of mind-set. That’s very much what the Internet is. And almost to a person that I’ve talked to, they say, ‘Yeah, I would probably vote for Republicans, but I can’t get past the gay-marriage ban, the abortion stance, all of these social causes.’ Almost universally, they see a future where you have more options, not less. So questions about whether you can be married to the person you want to be married to just flies in the face of the future. They don’t want to be part of an organization that puts them squarely on the wrong side of history.”

Many young conservatives also said that technological innovation runs at cross-purposes with the party’s corporate rigidity. “There’s a feeling that Republican politics are more hierarchical than in the Democratic Party,” Ben Domenech, a 31-year-old blogger and research fellow at the libertarian Heartland Institute, told me. “There are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important.’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”

Erik Telford explained it this way: “I think there’s a very incestuous community of consultants who profit off certain tactics, and that creates bias and inhibits innovation.” Telford was suggesting that many of the party leaders, like Karl Rove and his American Crossroads super PAC, saw no financial advantage to bringing in avant-garde digital specialists, the types who were embraced by the Obama operation. For that matter, Zac Moffatt and his firm, Targeted Victory, enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the G.O.P.’s digital business during the lackluster 2012 cycle, which has made Moffatt an irresistible symbol for all that’s clubby and backward-thinking about the party. As Bret Jacobson said, half-jokingly, “If you have one firm that’s doing the top candidate, plus the R.N.C., plus the top outside group — the Department of Justice, in any other industry, would be actively asking questions.”

One of several G.O.P. digital whizzes who went unused by Moffatt’s shop in 2012 was Vincent Harris, a savvy 24-year-old social-media consultant whose efforts in Texas helped catapult Ted Cruz to an upset victory over a better-known candidate in the U.S. Senate primary. Harris told me he saw the Romney campaign as “a very insular, closed operation,” symptomatic of a partywide affliction. “There’s an old guard in Republican politics, and that old guard is mostly made up of television and direct-mail consultants,” he said. “And you can say that’s generational — but at the same time, David Axelrod has to be the same age as Karl Rove, right? The old guard in the Democratic Party made the adjustment with the Obama digital operation. There hasn’t been a concerted effort among the established G.O.P. folks to figure this stuff out.”

Harris suffers no illusions that the Roves of his party will turn over the keys to young techies like him. “We’re the second rung,” he told me. “The first tier isn’t going away for another 20 years.”

It is Harris’s last point — that the G.O.P. is stuck with its current leadership for the next decade or more — that incites particular angst in young Republicans. With palpable envy, they describe the forward-leaning impulses of the Obama campaign: Axelrod’s tweeting endlessly; the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter’s becoming a YouTube dynamo with her sassy Web rebuttals to the Romney campaign; Jim Messina’s traveling westward to receive wisdom from Eric Schmidt, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg. (From Spielberg, about not trying to replicate their 2008 campaign: “You can only be the Rolling Stones from 1965 once. And then you’re a touring band that has to sell tickets each time you come to town.”) One leading G.O.P. digital operative told me: “We’re looking for someone who comes to us and is like: ‘All right, what do we need to do? I’m going to trust you to do it, I’m going to give you a real budget, you’ll have a seat at the table and will be just as important as the communications guy and the field guy. And you know what, those other guys need to be more modern, too, and that’s the campaign we’re going to run. So let’s start plotting out how we’re going to do that.’ ”

Echoing the opinion of nearly every other young Republican with whom I spoke, the operative concluded sadly, “And we haven’t had that person yet.”

The person they are seeking is the Republican incarnation of David Plouffe — the seemingly unremarkable Hill staffer and itinerant consultant who, like the Howard Dean strategist Joe Trippi before him, recognized that the only way his relatively unknown and underfinanced candidate could prevail over the front-runner would be to muster a guerrilla operation. To accomplish this, in 2007, Plouffe met with a 25-year-old former Dean techie named Joe Rospars and promptly enlisted him to help marshal candidate Obama’s volunteer support through high-tech means. Plouffe, Rospars told me, became the champion of “using digital to build the campaign from the bottom up.” Employing then-nascent social media channels like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Rospars’s team raised enormous sums of money online while also plugging a nationwide grass-roots network into Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts. Four years later, Stephanie Cutter said, “Plouffe was a big proponent” of completely reimagining the 2008 effort.

A few days before this year’s inauguration — after which he would take leave of the Obama White House and of politics as a profession — Plouffe met with me in his small and uncluttered West Wing office. He wore a blue shirt and a purple tie and, with his work now done, was uncharacteristically expansive. He told me he was surprised by the Romney campaign’s strategic shortcomings. After naming one particular member of Romney’s high command, he said, “We had 15 people more qualified to do that job than him.”

Plouffe cut his teeth as the deputy chief of staff of Representative Dick Gephardt, whose impressive farm team also included those who would go on to be White House advisers, like Paul Begala, George Stephanopoulos and Bill Burton. Now it was the Obama operation that, he said, “is going to generate a lot of people who are going to run presidential and Senate campaigns.” They were apt pupils of a campaign that was “a perfect-storm marriage between grass-roots energy and digital technology.” He continued: “Not having that is like Nixon not shaving before his first debate — you’ve got to understand the world you’re competing in. Our thinking always was, We don’t want people when they interact with the Obama campaign to have it be a deficient experience compared to how they shop or how they get their news. People don’t say, ‘Well, you’re a political campaign, so I expect you to be slower and less interesting.’ Right? We wanted it to be like Amazon. And I still don’t think the Republicans are there.”

But, I asked Plouffe, wasn’t the G.O.P. just one postmodern presidential candidate — say, a Senator Marco Rubio — away from getting back into the game?

Pouncing, he replied: “Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.”

Plouffe readily conceded that he and his generation held no iron grip on political wisdom, but then he flashed a grin when I brought up the R.N.C.’s Growth and Opportunity Project, composed of party stalwarts. “If there’s a review board the Democrats put together in 2032, or even 2020, and I’m on it,” he said, “we’re screwed.”

The Republicans did in fact recently have a David Plouffe of their own. As one G.O.P. techie elegantly put it, “We were the smart ones, back in ’04, eons ago.” Referring to the campaign that re-elected George W. Bush, Plouffe told me: “You know how in fantasy baseball you imagine putting up your team against the 1927 Yankees? We would’ve liked to have faced off against the 2004 Republicans. Beating the Clintons” — during the 2008 primaries — “that was, in terms of scale of difficulty, significantly above beating Romney. But going up against the Bushies — that would’ve been something we all would’ve relished.”

Plouffe wasn’t referring to competing against Bush’s oft-described architect, Karl Rove — but rather, against the campaign manager, Ken Mehlman. “Mehlman got technology and organization and the truth is — I think it’s completely misunderstood — it was Ken’s campaign,” Plouffe said. He added that he and Mehlman were friends, and that during the 2012 cycle, Mehlman — who had been informally advising the Romney campaign — was also “very free with advice about structure, how they dealt with an incumbent president, how they dealt with debate prep.” (Similarly, the former Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd told me that Axelrod reached out to him for advice and they sat down together. “Which never happened with me and Romney-world.”)

Mehlman, according to Bush campaign officials, persuaded Rove to invest heavily in microtargeting (a data-driven means of identifying and reaching select groups of voters), which helped deliver Ohio and thus the election. He advocated reaching out to minority voters both as Bush’s campaign manager and later as chairman of the R.N.C., where he also instructed his staff to read “Moneyball.” “I was like, ‘What does a baseball book have to do with politics?’ ” said Michael Turk, who worked for Mehlman at the R.N.C. “Once I actually took the time to digest it, I realized what he was trying to do — which was exactly the kind of thing that the Obama team just did: understanding that not every election is about home runs but instead getting a whole bunch of singles together that eventually add up to a win.”

I met with Mehlman one morning in his office near the Capitol. He left politics in 2007 and subsequently came out as gay — and after that, became a vigorous if behind-the-scenes supporter of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York and beyond. Mehlman is now a partner at the private-equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, wealthy and free from his party’s fetters. He was nonetheless hesitant to criticize his fellow Republicans, though implicitly his comments were damning.

“There’s an important book by Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon called ‘The Real Majority,’ published in 1970,” Mehlman said as he leaned back in his chair. “The book explains in part how the Republican Party would go on to win five out of six presidential elections through the eyes of the ‘typical’ voter — a working-class couple in Dayton, Ohio. They’re white, worried about crime, feel burdened by taxes and feel like too many Democrats don’t understand these concerns.”

Today’s typical voter, he went on to say, could be that same white couple in Dayton. “But here’s the difference,” he said. ‘They worry about economic mobility — can their kids get ahead or even keep up. Their next-door neighbors are Latino whose mom gets concerned when she hears talk about self-deportation or no driver’s licenses. And that couple has a gay niece and an African-American brother-in-law. And too many folks like the couple in Dayton today wonder if some of the G.O.P. understands their lives anymore.”

I asked him whether, as even some Republicans have suggested, Ronald Reagan would have trouble building a winning coalition today. “I think he could win, partly because Reagan wouldn’t be the Reagan he was in 1980,” Mehlman replied. “Reagan had an unbelievable intuitive understanding of the electorate, because he’d spent his life as the president of a large union, as an actor who understands his audience, as the governor of the largest state, as a corporate spokesman who traveled — Reagan spent his life listening to people and learning from them and adapting to their concerns. That’s why there were Reagan Democrats — ethnics, working-class voters, Southern voters. So I think a modern Reagan would understand the demography and where the new voters are and would’ve applied his principles accordingly.”

But could a modern-day Reagan, even with Ken Mehlman running his campaign, overcome the party’s angry and antiquated image? To win, a reincarnated Reagan — or a Rubio or a Chris Christie or a Bobby Jindal — would still have to satisfy his base of hard-line conservatives and captivate a new generation of voters at the same time. I ran this quandary by Kristen Soltis Anderson. “It’s a big challenge,” she acknowledged. “But I think that if you can earn the trust of the people, there are ways you can say, ‘Here’s why I take this position.’ I don’t know that someone like Rubio, who may be young and attractive and well spoken, could attract young voters despite his views on gay marriage. I do think that in the absence of a very compelling reason to vote for a candidate, those social issues can be deal-breakers for young voters. The challenge is: Can you make a case that’s so compelling that you can overcome those deal-breaker issues? And I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Bret Jacobson, the Red Edge entrepreneur, insisted that the solution was ultimately a simple one. “I think the answer for a vibrant Republican Party is to make our North Star empowering every individual in this country to follow their own dream, free of legislative excesses,” he told me. “There are millions of Americans who take seriously their religious culture as well as traditions that have been handed down for centuries. And the party has to empower them to fight those battles in the social sphere, not in the government sphere. That’s harder work than taking control of the country for four years. But it’s the appropriate battle.”

But, I asked him, don’t social conservatives feel a moral obligation to legislate their beliefs? Did Jacobson really expect the Rick Santorums of his party to let a new generation of Republican leaders tell them what to accept and how to behave?

Jacobson did not back down. “Even the Republican Party rejected Santorum,” he said. “He got some attention, and he certainly received votes. But he didn’t win.”

In a sense, however, Santorum and his fellow archconservatives did win, by tugging Mitt Romney and his pliable views rightward. Then Romney lost, and so did the Republicans.

Two days after Obama’s inauguration, Bret Jacobson flew to Charlotte to attend the R.N.C.’s winter conference and sit on a panel devoted to discussing new digital techniques. “Bret’s presentation was one of the best-received of the panel, by far,” the seminar’s organizer, Ryan Cassin, told me. Still, Jacobson was disappointed to see only 30 people in attendance. President Obama, meanwhile, announced the previous week that his campaign juggernaut would be transformed into an advocacy group, Organizing for Action, that would use the vast social network amassed during the 2012 cycle to advance the administration’s policy goals. The Republican panel amounted to a first step — a baby step — while the competition was lapping them.

Jacobson did not stick around the next day to hear Reince Priebus declare to the conferees, “We’re the party of innovation!” Instead, he left his own panel early to catch a plane back to Washington. Calls were continuing to come into Red Edge’s office from establishment Republicans inquiring about Jacobson and Spencer’s cautionary slide presentation.

Jacobson wanted to interpret this interest as a good thing. But I could tell from his voice that the experience at the R.N.C. conference deflated his hopes about Republicans being well on the road to enlightenment. “My primary worry,” he told me without his characteristic levity, “is that I’m going to become the Al Gore of the right” — meaning, a forecaster of doom, appreciated and unheeded as the clever if somewhat lonely guy who told them so.

Robert Draper is a contributing writer for the magazine. His most recent book is “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”


Obama II: Rattrapé par les scandales, Obama se hollandise à la vitesse grand V (Obama scandals: six months of Nixon-grade cover-up and they put you back in the White House)

23 mai, 2013
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J’ai appris hier avec stupéfaction et colère les aveux de Jérôme Cahuzac devant les juges. Il a trompé les plus hautes autorités du pays: le chef de l’Etat, le chef du gouvernement, le Parlement et à travers lui tous les Français. (…) J’affirme ici que Jérôme Cahuzac n’a bénéficié d’aucune protection autre que celle de la présomption d’innocence et il a quitté le gouvernement à ma demande dès l’ouverture d’une information judiciaire. François Hollande (3 avril 2013)
Je vous l’assure : à l’instant où je l’ai appris, j’ai mis toute mon énergie pour faire en sorte que ce problème soit réglé. (…) Je peux vous affirmer que je n’étais au courant de rien à propos de ce rapport de l’inspection générale des services fiscaux avant qu’il n’y ait des fuites dans la presse. Barack Obama (16 mai 2013)
One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the US Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous. Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. Victor Davis Hanson
Selon le professeur Dick Simpson, chef du département de science politique de l’université d’Illinois, «c’est à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début du XXe que le système prend racine». L’arrivée de larges populations immigrées peinant à faire leur chemin à Chicago pousse les politiciens à «mobiliser le vote des communautés en échange d’avantages substantiels». Dans les années 1930, le Parti démocrate assoit peu à peu sa domination grâce à cette politique «raciale». Le système va se solidifier sous le règne de Richard J. Daley, grande figure qui régnera sur la ville pendant 21 ans. Aujourd’hui, c’est son fils Richard M. Daley qui est aux affaires depuis 18 ans et qui «perpétue le pouvoir du Parti démocrate à Chicago, en accordant emplois d’État, faveurs et contrats, en échange de soutiens politiques et financiers», raconte John McCormick. «Si on vous donne un permis de construction, vous êtes censés “payer en retour”», explique-t-il. «Cela s’appelle payer pour jouer», résume John Kass, un autre éditorialiste. Les initiés affirment que Rod Blagojevich ne serait jamais devenu gouverneur s’il n’avait croisé le chemin de sa future femme, Patricia Mell, fille de Dick Mell, un conseiller municipal très influent, considéré comme un rouage essentiel de la machine. Le Figaro
C’est un système pourri, une toile d’araignée qui organise sa survie en nommant ses amis à des postes clés de l’administration en échange de leur soutien politique et financier.  Anthony Peraica
Dans ce contexte local plus que trouble, Peraica affirme que la montée au firmament d’Obama n’a pu se faire «par miracle».«Il a été aidé par la machine qui l’a adoubé, il est cerné par cette machine qui produit de la corruption et le risque existe qu’elle monte de Chicago vers Washington», va-t-il même jusqu’à prédire. Le conseiller régional républicain cite notamment le nom d’Emil Jones, l’un des piliers du Parti démocrate de l’Illinois, qui a apporté son soutien à Obama lors de son élection au Sénat en 2004. Il évoque aussi les connexions du président élu avec Anthony Rezko, cet homme d’affaires véreux, proche de Blagojevich et condamné pour corruption, qui fut aussi le principal responsable de la levée de fonds privés pour le compte d’Obama pendant sa course au siège de sénateur et qui l’aida à acheter sa maison à Chicago. «La presse a protégé Barack Obama comme un petit bébé. Elle n’a pas sorti les histoires liées à ses liens avec Rezko», s’indigne Peraica, qui cite toutefois un article du Los Angeles Times faisant état d’une affaire de financement d’un tournoi international de ping-pong qui aurait éclaboussé le président élu. Le Figaro
Mr. Obama’s lesson in lack of political accountability also seems to be trickling down (…) There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. (…) If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because "part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast." In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up. (…) If the President isn’t accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have. The WSJ
As of September 11, the race was dead even. (…) Beneath Obama’s calm veneer that September there were lots of things the public did not know, and from the administration’s point of view apparently should not know until after the election. Just three months earlier, the Treasury Department’s inspector general had reported to top Treasury officials that the Internal Revenue Service had been inordinately targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Such political corruption of the IRS was a Nixonian bombshell, with enormous implications for the election, especially given that during the campaign Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had claimed that he had knowledge about the Koch brothers’ tax returns, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was lauding himself as a “wrecking crew” as he swore he had the inside dope on Mitt Romney’s taxes. (…) In other words, in cynical fashion, the Obama team won on two counts: The IRS had intimidated conservative organizations for months and had very possibly helped to prevent them from repeating their successes of 2010, while keeping the illegal activity from the press and the public.
As of September 11, 2012, the American people also did not know that the attorney general’s office had four months earlier been conducting secret monitoring of two months’ worth of records of calls made from private and work phone lines of Associated Press reporters — this surveillance supposedly due to suspicions that administration sources were leaking classified information to these reporters. (…) Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.
On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related? We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack. Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. (…) Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.
In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country. Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion. Victor Davis Hanson

Obama-Hollande, même combat !

Mensonges ou non-dits électoralistes sur l’attentat de Benghazi (4 morts dont l’ambassadeur, gommant, en ce 10e anniversaire du 11/9, toute référence à Al Qaeda qui aurait pu effrayer l’électeur), profilage du fisc pour les seuls groupes d’opposition,  presse sur écoutes (saisie de deux mois de relevés téléphoniques d’une vingtaine de journalistes), atermoiements sur la Syrie, impuissance sur la fermeture de Guantanamo, défaites sur le budget et le contrôle des armes à feu …

Alors que les scandales se multiplient autour du 2e mandat d’un président américain qui nous refait lui aussi le coup de la complète ignorance

Et que chez nous le fisc confirme, contrairement aux dénégations présidentielles, qu’il était au courant pour Cahuzac depuis au moins 2001 …

Comment ne pas voir comme le confirme l’historien militaire Victor Davis Hanson …

L’étrange gémellité entre d’un côté le président français le plus impopulaire de l’histoire de la Ve république et de l’autre le singulièrement précoce canard boiteux et auteur chicagoan du double casse du siècle de 2008 et de 2012 ?

The President Won — Sort Of

The administration spent the last six months of the campaign in cover-up mode.

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review

May 21, 2013

On September 11, 2012, Barack Obama was 1 point ahead of Mitt Romney in the ABC and Washington Post polls. He was scheduled to meet Romney in three weeks for the first debate. The president was increasingly anxious. Unemployment was still at 7.8 percent, and the Solyndra and Fast and Furious scandals had only recently disappeared from the news — and they had done so only thanks to the use of executive privilege.

But the Tea Party seemed to have lost its 2010 momentum, despite its renewed warnings that Obamacare would be a disaster if not repealed in 2013. The president was running on the slogan that GM was alive and bin Laden was dead — the implications being that massive influxes of borrowed federal money had allowed GM’s work force to survive, and that with the death of bin Laden came the unraveling of the “core” of al-Qaeda. Libya, of course, was cited as an overseas success — a sort of implied un-Iraq.

The contours of the campaign, in other words, were well drawn. Obama claimed that he had brought peace overseas and restoration at home, while Romney claimed that we were less secure on President Obama’s watch and that the economy was ossified because of too much debt and government spending.

And the race was neck and neck. In a few days the secretly taped “47 percent” Romney video would emerge and tar Romney with the charge of social insensitivity. And in the second debate, in mid-October, the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, in utterly unprofessional fashion, would interrupt Romney’s reference to Benghazi and cite a transcript in such a way as to falsely turn Obama’s generic reference to terrorism into an explicit presidential condemnation of the Benghazi attacks as a terrorist action, and swing the momentum of the debate back to a stumbling Barack Obama.

Again, as of September 11, the race was dead even.

Beneath Obama’s calm veneer that September there were lots of things the public did not know, and from the administration’s point of view apparently should not know until after the election. Just three months earlier, the Treasury Department’s inspector general had reported to top Treasury officials that the Internal Revenue Service had been inordinately targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Such political corruption of the IRS was a Nixonian bombshell, with enormous implications for the election, especially given that during the campaign Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had claimed that he had knowledge about the Koch brothers’ tax returns, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was lauding himself as a “wrecking crew” as he swore he had the inside dope on Mitt Romney’s taxes.

The inspector general of the Treasury recently testified before Congress that he had told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin of the IRS’s shenanigans in June 2012, five months before the election. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who had been grilled during confirmation hearings about his own improper tax deductions, must at some point have been told of the IRS mess, but somehow all these disturbing developments were kept under wraps for the duration of the campaign. Are we to believe that, each time Geithner met with the president between June and November, he did not mention the scandal brewing in his department because his own deputy had never told him?

In other words, in cynical fashion, the Obama team won on two counts: The IRS had intimidated conservative organizations for months and had very possibly helped to prevent them from repeating their successes of 2010, while keeping the illegal activity from the press and the public.

As of September 11, 2012, the American people also did not know that the attorney general’s office had four months earlier been conducting secret monitoring of two months’ worth of records of calls made from private and work phone lines of Associated Press reporters — this surveillance supposedly due to suspicions that administration sources were leaking classified information to these reporters.

But something was awry here too. First, the administration did not start by apprising AP that it wished to talk to their suspect reporters, as is normal protocol. Stranger still, the administration itself apparently had leaked classified information about the Stuxnet cyber-war virus, the drone protocols, and the Seal Team 6 raid that killed bin Laden (remember Defense Secretary Bob Gates’s “Shut the f*** up!”) — all in efforts to persuade the voting public that their president was far more engaged in the War on Terror than his critics had alleged.

These efforts to squelch any mention of the monitoring of journalists worked as well. Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.

On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related?

We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack.

Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. The truth was clear: Libya was not quiet, nor was al-Qaeda leaderless.

Instead, blaming the violence on a petty crook and supposed “Islamophobe” squared the circle: A right-wing bigot had caused the problem; he could be summarily jailed; and the president could both be absolved from blame for the unexpected violence and praised for his multicultural bona fides in condemning such a hateful voice on our soil. Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.

In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country.

Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals is just out from Bloomsbury Books.

Voir aussi:

Obama fragilisé par une succession de scandales

L’opposition républicaine accuse le fisc d’avoir multiplié à dessein les enquêtes contre des groupes proches du Tea Party.

Laure Mandeville

Le Figaro

«Il y a du sang dans l’eau», écrit John Avlon dans le Daily Beast,pour décrire la position défensive et affaiblie dans laquelle se retrouve acculée une Administration Obama rattrapée, en quelques jours, par les scandales. Plus que par les critiques quasi obsessionnelles des élus républicains contre les mensonges ou les non-dits de la crise de Benghazi, le président réélu est aujourd’hui rattrapé par les sombres manœuvres du fisc américain visant à cibler des groupes conservateurs Tea Party, ainsi que par la surveillance des échanges téléphoniques de plusieurs journalistes de la prestigieuse agence de presse AP. Certains parlent déjà d’une débandade à la Nixon pendant le Watergate, d’autres préférant faire plus sobrement référence aux affres de «Clinton II» et à la «malédiction», classique, des deuxièmes mandats. «On est encore dans le registre des abus mineurs, en comparaison avec les autres présidents», tempère le politologue Larry Sabato.

Dans un rapport publié mardi, l’inspecteur général de l’administration fiscale, qui dépend du département du Trésor, n’en a pas moins reconnu que l’IRS (Internal Revenue Service) a failli à sa mission en ciblant «selon des critères inappropriés» des groupes conservateurs qui réclamaient des exemptions fiscales. L’épicentre du scandale semble concerner une cellule du fisc de Cincinnati, où des groupes Tea Party et des mouvements «patriotes» de droite se sont vus soumis à des enquêtes approfondies sur l’origine de leurs fonds et le nom de leurs donateurs entre 2010 et 2012. L’inspecteur a affirmé que ces actions discriminantes constituent une infraction au principe de neutralité de l’État mais que rien ne permet de prouver qu’elles aient été commanditées de l’extérieur. «Ces conclusions sont intolérables et inexcusables. L’IRS doit appliquer la loi de manière juste et impartiale et ses employés doivent agir avec la plus grande intégrité», a condamné le président embarrassé, ordonnant au secrétaire au Trésor Jack Lew de sanctionner les coupables. Le FBI a par ailleurs ouvert une enquête.

« On est encore dans le registre des abus mineurs, en comparaison avec les autres présidents »

Le politologue Larry Sabato.

La question centrale est de déterminer si les actes des inspecteurs du fisc ont été le fait d’individus isolés ou si d’autres administrations, dont la Maison-Blanche, ont été associées. Une telle découverte changerait évidemment l’équation politique du scandale. La directrice des services d’exonération fiscale, Lois Lerner, parle d’un acte isolé dans lequel la présidence n’a eu aucun rôle. Elle affirme avoir eu vent de ces pratiques en 2011 et avoir ordonné un changement des critères de sélection. Mais les employés du fisc les auraient modifiés à nouveau sans en informer leur hiérarchie…

Peu convaincus, les élus républicains du Congrès s’apprêtent ce vendredi à lancer des auditions sur le sujet. À en croire certains groupes conservateurs ciblés par l’IRS, des agents du fisc leur auraient expliqué que leurs dossiers étaient examinés… à Washington. Plusieurs cellules Tea Party, de la Californie à la Virginie, affirment avoir été les cibles de contrôles du même type.

Pour les groupes conservateurs, qui vivent dans une méfiance instinctive du centre fédéral et accusent Barack Obama de vouloir instaurer un État centralisé dictatorial espionnant les citoyens et les privant de leurs libertés fondamentales – peur alimentée par son projet de contrôle des armes -, l’affaire de l’IRS est une aubaine, un formidable slogan de campagne potentiel pour les élections de mi-mandat de 2014.

Le porte-parole de la Maison-Blanche a beau affirmer que la présidence ne se sent «nullement» assiégée par ces dossiers d’abus de pouvoir, le bateau Obama semble avoir du mal à colmater les brèches, forçant «son capitaine» à la défensive. Pour le président, qui vient de subir deux défaites cuisantes sur le budget et le contrôle des armes à feu, cette tempête tombe mal, même si elle ne débouche pas sur une mise en cause de son intégrité. Son bilan législatif de deuxième mandat s’annonce squelettique, à l’exception de la loi sur l’immigration. Épuisé par ses efforts infructueux d’ouverture, il peine à définir le cadre de sa «conversation» avec le pays, handicap majeur dans une démocratie définie par un cycle d’actualité continue impitoyable, note l’ancien porte-parole de Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry. Même le consensus naissant sur l’immigration se retrouve occulté par les combines de l’IRS et les écoutes d’AP. Si on ajoute à ces couacs répétés, les atermoiements sur la Syrie et l’impuissance sur le dossier de la fermeture de Guantanamo, on voit se dessiner le portrait d’une Administration hésitante et paralysée par les couacs et les polémiques mesquines. «Mon intention est de gouverner», a pourtant lancé Obama clairement exaspéré, appelant ceux qui préfèrent «penser à leur élection qu’à la prochaine génération» à en assumer les risques.

La presse se déchaîne après la surveillance téléphonique de plusieurs journalistes

Déjà très remontée contre l’opacité de son Administration, la presse est furieuse contre Barack Obama. Avec la décision du ministère de la Justice de se faire communiquer les factures détaillées de journalistes de la vénérable agence Associated Press, elle se sent trahie et a déterré la hache de guerre. Il suffit de lire l’éditorial du New York Times ce mercredi pour comprendre. D’ordinaire plutôt amène vis-à-vis d’Obama, la rédaction épingle «le zèle glaçant de l’Administration à enquêter sur les fuites et à poursuivre leurs auteurs en justice». Pour l’heure, tout en affirmant ne pas avoir été impliquée dans les écoutes, la Maison-Blanche justifie de telles pratiques au nom de la sécurité nationale.

Voir aussi:

Les trois affaires qui embarrassent Obama

Groupes d’opposition ciblés par le fisc, journalistes espionnés, cafouillage de la communication sur l’attentat de Benghazi: l’Administration américaine est empêtrée dans une série de scandales.

Anne-Laure Frémont

Le Figaro

15/05/2013

L’année 2013 ne porte pas chance à Barack Obama. Déjà affaibli par son incapacité à faire passer une loi sur le contrôle des armes à feu, le président américain fait face, ces derniers jours, à une succession d’affaires dont les républicains se servent pour fustiger les «abus de pouvoirs» de l’Administration.

1- L’excès de zèle du fisc américain

La justice américaine a annoncé ce mardi l’ouverture d’une enquête après le mea culpa embarrassant du fisc. Vendredi, l’IRS (Internal Revenue Service) a en effet reconnu avoir ciblé quelque 75 groupes proches de la mouvance conservatrice et anti-impôts du Tea Party, en lançant des examens plus approfondis de leur demande de statut spécial (qui conferre aux groupes dits «501(c)4» le régime fiscal de non-imposition, au même titre que les ONG ou les Églises). Les groupes dont le nom comportait le mot «patriote» étaient par exemple, particulièrement visés.

Depuis l’an dernier, des dizaines d’entre eux se plaignaient des questions très intrusives du fisc. En ciblant les groupes d’opposition, ce dernier a enfreint la loi et choque démocrates comme républicains. «Nous allons attendre de connaître tous les faits et les détails. Mais je n’ai aucune patience pour cela, je ne le tolérerai pas et nous ferons en sorte de comprendre exactement ce qu’il s’est passé», a promis Barack Obama lundi, évoquant un acte «scandaleux» lors d’une conférence de presse sur un tout autre sujet, à laquelle le premier ministre britannique David Cameron assistait. Son porte-parole, Jay Carney, a tenu à préciser mardi que le président n’avait rien à voir avec cette affaire. Même si l’IRS est un organisme indépendant, tout mauvais agissement de sa part rejaillit forcément sur la Maison-Blanche, estime toutefois Ron Bonjean, ancien assistant républicain au Congrès.

2 – Les journalistes de l’agence de presse AP espionnés

En voulant à tout prix contenir les fuites d’informations confidentielles, Washington est peut-être allé trop loin. L’agence de presse américaine Associated Press (AP) a dénoncé lundi une «intrusion massive et sans précédent» du département de la Justice, qui se serait secrètement saisi de deux mois de relevés téléphoniques d’une vingtaine de journalistes de l’agence. Selon AP, la justice aurait pris cette décision après la publication d’une dépêche dans laquelle, en mai 2012, l’agence révélait une opération de la CIA au Yémen ayant permis de déjouer un projet d’attentat d’al-Qaida visant à faire exploser une bombe à bord d’un avion à destination des États-Unis. La saisie aurait eu pour but de traquer l’identité des informateurs de l‘agence.

Le ministre de la Justice, Eric Holder, a tenté de se justifier mardi, indiquant que les fuites d’informations en question étaient «parmi les plus, si ce n’est les plus graves» qu’il ait jamais vues «depuis 1976», date à laquelle il a démarré sa carrière à la justice. «Ce n’est pas une exagération, cela mettait les Américains en danger et tenter de déterminer qui en était responsable, je pense, exige une action très offensive», a ajouté le ministre, qui a refusé de dire si d’autres médias étaient concernés. Mardi, Jay Carney a assuré qu’Obama soutenait le premier amendement – qui garantit la liberté d’expression – mais qu’un «équilibre» était nécessaire entre les libertés publiques et l’impératif d’enquêter sur des pratiques criminelles. Le sénateur démocrate Harry Reid a pour sa part jugé cette procédure «inexcusable». «J’ai du mal à défendre ce qu’a fait le ministère de la Justice (…), il n’y a aucun moyen de le justifier», a-t-il déclaré.

3 – L’interminable dossier Benghazi

L’Administration Obama est empêtrée dans l’affaire de l’attentat de Benghazi, en Libye. Un attentat au cours duquel l’ambassadeur, Christopher Stevens, et trois Américains ont été tués, le 11 septembre dernier. Les élus républicains, qui mettent notamment en cause l’ex-secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton, reprochent à l’Administration d’avoir voulu taire le caractère «terroriste» de cette attaque pour ne pas plomber la campagne présidentielle d’Obama avant le vote de novembre 2012.

Rapports et auditions à l’appui, les républicains dénoncent les failles du dispositif de sécurité, tandis que des courriels révélés vendredi par la chaîne ABC semblent aussi indiquer que l’Administration est intervenue pour supprimer une référence à al-Qaida dans un document sur lequel devait s’appuyer Susan Rice, ambassadrice à l’ONU, pour rendre compte à la télévision des débuts de l’enquête. Dans l’un de ces messages, Victoria Nuland, alors porte-parole du département d’État, s’oppose à ce qu’on fasse état d’informations préalables de la CIA sur une menace islamiste dans l’est de la Libye «car cela pourrait être utilisé par des membres du Congrès pour attaquer le département d’État en l’accusant d’avoir ignoré les mises en garde».

Depuis des mois, l’équipe Obama tente de se justifier. «Le lendemain de cette attaque, j’avais reconnu qu’il s’agissait d’un acte terroriste», a encore déclaré le président américain lundi. «Le fait qu’on continue à en parler, franchement, a beaucoup à voir avec des motivations politiques.»

(Avec agences)

Voir également:

L’élan de Barack Obama brisé par les scandales

Laure Mandeville

Le Figaro

Quatre ans après une élection historique et six mois après une réélection sans réserve, le président américain donne l’impression d’être un observateur frustré et fatigué, plutôt qu’un président en charge.

De notre correspondante à Washington

À regarder Barack Obama donner une laborieuse conférence de presse en compagnie de son hôte turc Erdogan, ce jeudi dans le jardin aux Roses, sous un parapluie tenu au-dessus de sa tête par un marine à l’immobilité impeccable, on avait l’impression pénible d’une métaphore de l’état de sa présidence. Celle d’une Maison-Blanche qui prend l’eau. Quatre ans après une élection historique et six mois après une réélection sans réserve, il n’y a déjà plus d’élan à Washington. Juste un président fatigué aux cheveux blanchis par les soucis, qui tente tant bien que mal de reprendre l’initiative après une semaine émaillée de scandales.

Certes, Obama a promis de remettre de l’ordre avec vigueur dans les affaires du fisc américain, qui a clairement commis des abus de pouvoir. Pris à partie sur sa gestion politique de la crise de Benghazi, le chef de l’État a là encore choisi de faire publier tous les e-mails internes relatifs à l’affaire et appeler le Congrès à voter le renforcement des dispositifs de sécurité des ambassades. Au nom de «la sécurité nationale», Obama a également défendu l’action du ministère de la Justice, qui avait procédé à une surveillance de journalistes de l’agence Associated Press.

La pression des lobbys

Dans les trois cas, sa position est plutôt sensée et rationnelle, en tout cas défendable. Contrairement à Richard Nixon pendant le Watergate, ou à Clinton pendant l’affaire Lewinsky, Obama n’est pas personnellement éclaboussé par ces trois affaires, contrairement à ce que veut faire croire une armée de blogs conservateurs attirés par l’«odeur du sang». Mais ce qui manquait ce jeudi dans le jardin aux Roses, c’était l’étincelle. La force de conviction. Cette communion avec un homme qui avait fait croire à l’Amérique qu’il pourrait réformer Wall Street, fermer Guantanamo, réparer Washington, unifier la nation et réconcilier le monde d’un coup de baguette magique. Bref, marcher sur l’eau.

Si le président paraît désemparé, c’est qu’il réalise qu’il n’y a pas de grâce en politique, pas de place pour la grande transformation structurelle qu’il avait rêvée. Les trois ans et demi à venir s’annoncent comme un cheminement laborieux et cruel dans la boue des attaques, la pression des lobbys et l’affrontement permanent avec un Congrès divisé et paralysant, pour un résultat incertain. Patauger dans les batailles politiciennes, ce n’est pas vraiment la spécialité d’Obama, qui se pense comme un visionnaire et se passionne pour les dossiers techniques. Ses tentatives répétées d’ouverture vers les républicains, lors de dîners privés destinés à susciter des compromis sur le budget ou le contrôle des armes, ont échoué. Seule une victoire, très improbable, aux élections de mi-mandat, pourrait encore sauver ses plans. Du coup, Obama donne l’impression d’être un observateur frustré plutôt qu’un président en charge.

Crucifixion quotidienne

Le pays, qui a la mémoire courte, a oublié que cette «crucifixion» quotidienne a été le lot de tous ses prédécesseurs. Clinton a été honni et traîné dans la boue avant de devenir le sage dont chacun à droite comme à gauche loue «l’intelligence politique». Raillé, mis à l’index par les libéraux et déstabilisé par le scandale des contras, Reagan a dû mourir pour devenir une statue du commandeur tutélaire. Même chose pour Harry Truman, à la présidence semée de scandales. Au fond, Barack Obama vit un destin présidentiel normal. Il est juste parti de très haut, donnant du coup l’impression d’une chute irrémédiable. Ses hésitations à agir en Syrie – même si elles révèlent une prudence louable et peut-être salutaire – accroissent le sentiment d’un capitaine à la main défaillante.

Est-ce définitif? Sans doute pas. Dans le monde versatile du XXIe siècle, un drame en chasse un autre et c’est la chance d’Obama. S’il parvient à arracher une loi sur l’immigration par exemple, la planète médiatique se remettra à le louer, avec la même force qu’elle l’enterre. S’il réussit à démontrer les excès grotesques des critiques républicaines, qui l’accusent de vouloir transformer l’État en «Big Brother» dangereux, il pourrait rassurer un pays de plus en plus fatigué de la propagande et de la paralysie. Bref, le verre de la présidence Obama est toujours à moitié plein, même s’il se vide.

Reste toutefois une ombre de taille au tableau. Celle que la faiblesse politique d’Obama projette sur le pouvoir américain et ses limites. En regardant le président sous son parapluie appeler à s’en remettre à «la communauté internationale» pour régler le problème syrien, on ne peut s’empêcher d’y lire aussi une métaphore de la nouvelle impuissance américaine. Certains, à l’étranger, s’empresseront de l’exploiter.

Voir encore:

The Unaccountable Executive

If the President doesn’t run the government, then who does?

The Wall Street Journal

May 22, 2013

Every day brings new revelations about who knew what about the IRS targeting conservative groups during President Obama’s re-election campaign, but the overall impression is of a vast federal bureaucracy run amok. While the White House continues to peddle the story of a driverless train wreck, taxpayers are being treated to a demonstration of the dangers of an unwieldy and unaccountable administrative state. Look, Ma, no hands!

In his press events, Mr. Obama has said that while he learned about the Cincinnati rogues on the news, he plans to "hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions." But the White House began its response by pushing the line that the IRS is an "independent agency," and Mr. Obama has since given the impression that he sits atop a federal government which he does not, and could not possibly, control.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfieffer encouraged that fable on this Sunday’s news shows, implying that the Treasury’s internal process for handling the unfair treatment of political targets trumped the President’s right to know. When CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley asked Mr. Pfieffer why the White House and top Treasury officials weren’t notified, he explained that Treasury’s investigation was ongoing and "Here’s the cardinal rule: You do not interfere in an independent investigation."

Now there’s a false choice. The Treasury Inspector General’s report, for starters, was an audit, not an inviolable independent investigation. He lacked subpoena power and could bring no criminal charges. Having the President know of the IRS’s mistakes so that he could act to correct the problem was not a bridge too far or even clouding the purity of the process. Those things could have been done simultaneously without compromising Treasury’s investigation.

At Darrell Issa’s House oversight hearing on Wednesday, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George was criticized for not notifying Congress of the IRS wrongdoing when he became aware of it in July 2012. Emails between the IG’s office and committee staff show the IG’s office repeatedly evaded Congressional inquiries on the progress of the investigation.

All IGs appear before Congress, but they are really answerable to the President who is responsible for what goes on in the IRS and what the agency actually does. If the IRS is not operating in a way that treats taxpayers evenhandedly and in accordance with its guidelines and mission, it is up to him to change the personnel and make any other corrections so that the taxing power of the federal government is legal and fair. If that isn’t the case, voters deserve to know exactly who is accountable for the decisions of the agency that takes a healthy fraction of their income every year.

Mr. Obama’s lesson in lack of political accountability also seems to be trickling down: Lois Lerner was in charge of the IRS division that discriminated against conservative groups. But rather than take responsibility, Ms. Lerner on Wednesday invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify at the House hearing, though not before she read a statement saying that she had "not done anything wrong."

Asked by Texas Senator John Cornyn at a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday whether he owed conservative groups an apology, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that he was "certainly not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it" though he was sorry that it had happened on his watch.

There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. The agency has the power to make citizens lives miserable, ruin their businesses and garnish their wages. Anyone facing an audit is unlikely to get away with the evasions now in display in the federal bureaucracy.

If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because "part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast."

In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up.

***

Alexander Hamilton and America’s Founders designed the unitary executive for the purpose of political accountability. It is one of the Constitution’s main virtues. Unlike grunts in Cincinnati, Presidents must face the voters. That accountability was designed to extend not only to the President’s inner circle but over the entire branch of government whose leaders he chooses and whose policies bear his signature.

If the President isn’t accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have.

Voir de même:

Obama’s ‘Idiot’ Defense

Scandal forces the president to drop the pose of omnicompetent know-it-all.

Jonah Goldberg

National review

May 22, 2013

Although there’s still a great deal to be learned about the scandals and controversies swirling around the White House like so many ominous dorsal fins in the surf, the nature of President Obama’s bind is becoming clear. The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.

It was offered to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson by an anonymous aide involved in the White House’s disastrous response to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Well-intentioned human error rarely gets the credit it deserves. People want to connect the dots, but that’s only possible when you assume that all events were deliberately orchestrated by human will. This is the delusion at the heart of all conspiracy theorists, from Kennedy assassination crackpots to 9/11 “truthers.”

Behind all such delusions is the assumption that government officials we don’t like are omnicompetent and entirely malevolent. The truth is closer to the opposite. They mean well but can’t do very much very well.

This brings us to the flip side of the conspiracy theory — call it the redeemer fantasy: If only we had the right kind of government with the right kind of leaders, there’d be nothing we couldn’t do.

It’s been a while since we had a self-styled redeemer president. John F. Kennedy surely dabbled in the myth that experts could solve all of our problems, though much of JFK’s messianic status was imposed on him posthumously by the media and intellectuals. You really have to go back to Franklin D. Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson to find a president who pushed the salvific powers of politics as much as Barack Obama.

His presidency has been grounded in the fantasy that there’s “nothing we can’t do” through government action if we just put all our faith in it — and, by extension, in him. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, he tells us, and if we just give over to a post-political spirit, where we put aside our differences, the way America (allegedly) did during other “Sputnik moments” (one of his favorite phrases), we can give “jobs to the jobless,” heal the planet, even “create a kingdom [of heaven] right here on Earth.”

For Obama, the only things separating America from redemption are politics, specifically obstruction from unhinged Republicans and others clinging to outdated and vaguely illegitimate motives. Opposition to gun control is irrational because the “government is us.” Reject warnings “that tyranny is always lurking,” he told the graduating class at Ohio State, because a self-governing people cannot tyrannize themselves.

But, suddenly, when the administration finds itself ensnared by errors of its own making, the curtain is drawn back on the cult of expertise and the fantasy of statist redemption. Early on in the IRS scandal, before the agency’s initial lies were exposed, David Axelrod defended the administration on the grounds that the “government is so vast” the president “can’t know” what’s going on “underneath” him. Of course, it was Obama who once said, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.”

That is, when things are going relatively well. When scandal hits the fan, he goes from the “government is us” to talking of his own agencies the way a czar might dismiss an injustice in some Siberian backwater. The hubris of omnicompetence gives way to “lighten up, we’re idiots.”

Many of his defenders now rush to insist that it’s unfair to hold him to too high a standard. He’s just a man, just a politician. Well, duh.

Meanwhile, Obama insists that he is outraged. And, if sincere, that’s nice. But so what? What the president seems to have never fully understood is that the Founders were smarter than he is or that the American people aren’t as dumb as he thinks we are. His outrage is beside the point.

A free people will have legitimate differences on questions of policy. A government as vast as ours is — never mind as vast Obama wants it to be — is destined to abuse its power, particularly in a climate where a savior-president is incessantly delegitimizing dissent (and journalistic scrutiny). Government officials will behave like idiots sometimes, not because they are individually dumb but because a government that takes on too much will make an idiot out of anyone who thinks there’s no limit to what it can do. That alone is good reason to fear tyranny. Indeed, it would be idiotic not to.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback.

Voir aussi:

Big Government’s Abuses of Power

Monitoring AP but not detaining Tamerlan Tsarnaev — there is a common theme.

Victor Davis Hanson

National review

May 22, 2013

Government is now so huge, powerful, and callous that citizens risk becoming virtual serfs, lacking the freedoms guaranteed by the Founders.

Is that perennial fear an exaggeration? Survey the current news.

We have just learned that the Internal Revenue Service before the 2012 election predicated its tax-exemption policies on politics. It inordinately denied tax exemption to groups considered conservative or otherwise antagonistic to the president’s agenda.

If the supposedly nonpartisan IRS is perceived as skewing our taxes on the basis of our politics, then the entire system of trust in self-reporting is rendered null and void. Worse still, the bureaucratic overseer at the center of the controversy, Sarah Hall Ingram, now runs the IRS division charged with enforcing compliance with the new Obamacare requirements.

It was also before the 2012 election that some reporters at the Associated Press had their private and work phone records monitored by the government, supposedly because of fear about national-security leaks. The Justice Department gave the AP no chance, as it usually would, first to question its own journalists. The AP had run a story in May 2012 about the success of a double agent working in Yemen before the administration itself could brag about it.

In fact, the Obama White House has been accused of leaking classified information favorable to the administration — top-secret details concerning the Stuxnet computer virus used against Iran, the specifics of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, and the decision-making behind the drone program — often to favored journalists. The message is clear: A reporter may have his most intimate work and private correspondence turned over to the government — Fox News’s James Rosen had his e-mail account tapped into — on the mere allegation that he might have tried to do what his own government had in fact already done.

Now the civil-rights divisions of the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have issued new speech codes for campuses, focusing on supposed gender insensitivities. The result is that federal bureaucrats can restrict the constitutionally protected rights of free speech for millions of American college students — including during routine classroom discussions.

Eight months after the Benghazi mess, Americans only now are discovering that the Obama administration, for political reasons, failed to beef up security at our Libyan consulate or send it help when under attack. It also lied in blaming the violence on a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an Internet video. That pre-election narrative was known to be untrue when the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney all peddled it.

The problem with a powerful rogue government is not just that it becomes quite adept at doing what it should not. Increasingly, it also cannot even do what it should.

Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell may well turn out to be the most lethal serial killer in U.S. history. His recent murder conviction gave only a glimpse of his carnage at the end of a career that spanned more than three decades. Yet Gosnell operated with impunity right under the noses of Pennsylvania health and legal authorities for years, without routine government health-code and licensing oversight.

In the case of Boston terrorist bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his loud jihadist activity had earned him a visit from the FBI and the attention of both the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. But all that government monitoring was for naught. Tsarnaev was not detained, but allowed to visit Dagestan and Chechnya — both located in the supposedly dangerous region that prompted his family’s flight to the U.S. in the first place.

In all of these abuses and laxities there is one common theme. Bureaucrats, political appointees, regulators, intelligence officials, and law-enforcement personnel wanted to fall in line with the perceived politically correct agenda of the day. Right now, that party line seems to include protecting the progressive interests of the Obama administration, going after its critics, turning a blind eye toward illegal abortions, ignoring warnings about radical Islam, and restricting the right to free speech in order to curtail language declared potentially hurtful.

Conspiracists, left and right, are sometimes understandably derided as paranoids for alleging that Big Government steadily absorbs the private sector, violates private communications, targets tax filers it doesn’t like, and lies to the people about what it is up to. The only missing theme of such classic paranoia is the perennial worry over the right to bear arms.

I went to several sporting-goods stores recently to buy commonplace rifle shells. For the first time in my life, there were none to be found. Can widespread shortages of ammunition be attributed to panic buying or to production shortfalls caused by inexplicably massive purchases by the Department of Homeland Security at a time of acrimonious debate over the Second Amendment?

Who knows, but yesterday’s wacky conspiracist may become today’s Nostradamus.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, is just out from Bloomsbury Press.

Voir enfin:

Is Obama Already a Lame Duck?

Not quite, but he sure is quacking like one.

Peggy Noonan

WSJ

May 3, 2013

I think we’re all agreed the president is fading—failing to lead, to break through, to show he’s not at the mercy of events but, to some degree at least, in command of them. He couldn’t get a win on gun control with 90% public support. When he speaks on immigration reform you get the sense he’s setting it back. He’s floundering on Syria. The looming crisis on implementation of ObamaCare has begun to fill the news. Even his allies are using the term "train wreck." ObamaCare is not only the most slovenly written major law in modern American history, it is full of sneaked-in surprises people are just discovering. The Democrats of Washington took advantage of the country’s now-habitual distractedness: The country, now seeing what’s coming in terms of taxes and fees, will not be amused. Mr. Obama’s brilliant sequester strategy—scare the American public into supporting me—flopped. Congress is about to hold hearings on Boston and how the brothers Tsarnaev slipped through our huge law-enforcement and immigration systems. Benghazi and what appear to be its coverups drags on and will not go away; press secretary Jay Carney was reduced to saying it happened "a long time ago." It happened in September. The economy is stuck in low-growth, employment in no-growth. The president has about a month to gather himself together on the budget, tax reform and an immigration deal before Congress goes into recess. What are the odds?

Republicans don’t oppose him any less after his re-election, and Democrats don’t seem to support him any more. This week he was reduced to giving a news conference in which he said he’s got juice, reports of his death are greatly exaggerated. It was bad. And he must be frustrated because he thinks he’s trying. He gives speeches, he gives interviews, he says words, but he doesn’t really rally people, doesn’t create a wave that breaks over the top of the Capitol Dome and drowns the opposition, or even dampens it for a moment.

Mr. Obama’s problem isn’t really the Republicans. It’s that he’s supposed to be popular. He’s supposed to have some sway, some pull and force. He was just re-elected. He’s supposed to have troops. "My bill is launched, unleash the hounds of war." But nobody seems to be marching behind him. Why can’t he rally people and get them to press their congressmen and senators? I’m not talking about polls, where he hovers in the middle of the graph, but the ability to wield power.

The president seems incapable of changing anything, even in a crisis. He’s been scored as passive and petulant, but it’s the kind of passivity people fall into when nothing works. "People do what they know how to do," a hardened old pol once said, meaning politicians use whatever talent they have, and when it no longer works they continue using it.

There’s no happy warrior in there, no joy of the battle, just acceptance of what he wearily sees as the landscape. He’d seem hapless if he weren’t so verbally able.

So, the president is stuck. But it’s too early to write him off as a lame duck because history has a way of intervening. A domestic or international crisis that is well-handled, or a Supreme Court appointment, can make a president relevant. There are 44 months left to Mr. Obama’s presidency. He’s not a lame duck, he’s just lame.

***

Which has me thinking of two things that have weakened the Obama presidency and haven’t been noted. One was recent and merely unhelpful. The other goes back, and encouraged a mindset that became an excuse, perhaps a fatal one.

The recent one: In the days after the 2012 election the Democrats bragged about their technological genius and how it turned the election. They told the world about what they’d done—the data mining, the social networking, that allowed them to zero in on Mrs. Humperdink in Ward 5 and get her to the polls. It was quite impressive and changed national politics forever. But I suspect their bragging hurt their president. In 2008 Mr. Obama won by 9.5 million votes. Four years later, with all the whizbang and money, he won by less than five million. When people talk about 2012 they don’t say the president won because the American people endorsed his wonderful leadership, they say he won because his team outcomputerized the laggard Republicans.

This has left him and his people looking more like cold technocrats who know how to campaign than leaders who know how to govern. And it has diminished claims of a popular mandate. The president’s position would be stronger now if more people believed he had one.

What damaged the Obama presidency more, looking back, was, ironically, the trash-talking some Republican leaders indulged in after the 2008 campaign. It entered their heads at the Obama White House and gave them a warped sense of the battlefield.

In a conference call with conservative activists in July 2009, then-Sen. Jim DeMint said of the president’s health-care bill, "If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." Not long after, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying that the GOP’s primary goal was to make Mr. Obama a one-term president.

The press hyped this as if it were something new, a unique and epic level of partisan animus. Members of the administration also thought it was something new. It made them assume no deals with Republicans were possible, and it gave them a handy excuse they still use: "It’s not us, they vowed from the beginning they wouldn’t work with us!"

Peggy Noonan’s Blog

Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.

But none of it was new. The other side always vows to crush you. Anyone who’d been around for a while knew the Republicans were trying to sound tough, using hyperbole to buck up the troops. It’s how they talk when they’re on the ropes. But the president and his staffers hadn’t been around for a while. They were young. They didn’t understand what they were hearing was par for the course.

Bill Clinton’s foes made fierce vows about him, the enemies of both Bushes did the same. The opposing party always gets on the phone or gathers in what used to be Georgetown dens to denigrate the new guy and vow to fight him to the end. That’s how blowhards blow. When Reagan came in they vowed to take him down, and it was personal. Speaker Tip O’Neill called him "ignorant" and a "disgrace" and said it was "sinful" that he was president. He called Reagan "a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America" and said: "He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood." Chris Matthews, an O’Neill staffer, says he once greeted Reagan in the Capitol with the words: "Mr. President, welcome to the room where we plot against you."

They did. Reagan knew it.

Yet he had no problem dealing successfully with O’Neill. He didn’t moan, "Oh they hate me, it’s no use!"

Note to the next White House: There’s always gambling at Rick’s place. It’s never a shock and not an excuse. It’s business as usual. And if you’re a leader you can lead right past it.


Terrorisme: Sdérot n’a jamais été qu’un argument électoral (Guess whose daughters don’t sleep in Sderot?)

14 novembre, 2012
Si quelqu’un tirait des roquettes sur ma maison où mes deux filles dorment chaque soir, je ferais tout ce qui est en mon pouvoir pour faire cesser cela. Barack Obama (23.07. 2008)
La référence à ce voyage était une déclaration politique et rien de plus. Kobi Harush (division de sécurité de Sderot)
s tirs en direction d’Israël ont eu lieu au cours des cinq derniers jours depuis Gaza. Ces tirs ont fait plusieurs blessés, dont un grave, et des dégâts divers. D’autres tirs ont eu lieu depuis le territoire syrien.
Il n’est, de fait, pas tolérable que plus d’un million d’Israéliens doivent vivre sous la menace et dans un contexte de harcèlement constant. Et quand bien même les gouvernements occidentaux pratiquent le relativisme, renvoient dos à dos sans cesse criminels et victimes, et qualifient toute riposte israélienne quelle qu’elle soit de « riposte disproportionnée ». Israël devra se donner tôt ou tard les moyens de placer ses agresseurs face aux conséquences de leurs actes, d’une manière bien plus nette que lors de l’opération Plomb durci. On doit voir dans ces tirs et dans la situation régionale en laquelle Israël se trouve quelques-uns des fruits amers de la doctrine Obama. La doctrine Obama a permis au régime iranien de gagner quatre ans dans son avancée vers l’arme atomique. Elle a laissé la Syrie glisser vers une guerre civile prolongée dans laquelle al Qaida est un acteur majeur. Elle a facilité l’accès des Frères musulmans au pouvoir en Egypte, et permis une synergie entre le nouveau gouvernement égyptien et le Hamas. Elle a été au cœur de la destruction du régime libyen et de la dissémination des armes de l’arsenal du colonel Kadhafi dans toute la région, jusqu’à Gaza et en Syrie, précisément. (…) Faut-il le répéter ? Tout comme il n’y a pas eu de « printemps arabe », il n’y a pas de paix en perspective. Le monde arabe, et une bonne part du monde musulman, sont en proie à l’islam radical auquel Obama a donné une sorte de feu vert lors de son discours du Caire en juin 2009. La paix, elle, s’est éloignée davantage dans la même période. Elle ne pourra venir que lorsqu’il y aura un vainqueur et un vaincu, et que la victoire de l’un, et la défaite de l’autre seront sans appel. Israël doit être vainqueur. Les islamistes doivent être vaincus, irrémédiablement pour eux. La seule bonne nouvelle issue de l’élection américaine du 6 novembre dernier, strictement la seule, est que les Israéliens, comprenant que la doctrine Obama n’appartient pas au passé, discernent plus que jamais qu ils doivent compter sur leurs propres forces, et attendre le moins possible des Etats Unis tels qu’ils deviennent. Ce que j’aime en Israël est que c’est un pays où les valeurs de la civilisation occidentale sont vivantes, très vivantes. Ce que n’aiment pas la nomenklatura européenne et la gauche américaine lorsqu’il s’agit d’Israël, c’est précisément cela: les valeurs de la civilisation occidentale vivantes encore, très vivants en Israël. La nomenklatura européenne et la gauche américaine préfèrent s’appuyer sur le Qatar, sur les Frères musulmans, sur d’autres islamistes. Guy Millière
Neuf Palestiniens tués, journée la plus meurtrière à Gaza depuis 2009 (L’Express, 8 avril 2011)
Onze Palestiniens tués, journée la plus meurtrière à Gaza depuis 2009 (L’Express, 9 avril 2011)
Gaza : deux Palestiniens tués dans des raids israéliens (Le Monde, 23 juin 2012)
Gaza : Un raid israélien provoque un accès de violence (Le Figaro, 11 mars 2012)
Israël contre les palestiniens (Radio Canada, novembre 2012)

Alors que, dans l’indifférence générale, les roquettes pleuvent à nouveau sur Sdérot …

Pendant qu’entre Gaza et le PSG ou nos banlieues et de Kaboul à Tombouctou, nos amis qataris et saoudiens continuent de financer la crème du terrorisme mondial …

Notre consoeur Ashkel rappelle l’hypocrisie de nos médias et de nos responsables politiques et notamment l’Hypocrite en chef de la Maison Blanche …

Pour qui Sdérot n’a jamais été qu’un argument électoral …

Médias : désinformation contre Israël, Lettre ouverte à une amie québécoise

Aschkel

14 novembre 2012

« Le peuple d’Israël est vivant ! Nous disons en hébreu « Am Yisrael Chai », et l’Etat Juif vivra éternellement. »(Benjamin Netanyahou)

Un jour, ô pas si lointain, je t’ai demandé si le nom de Sdérot évoquait quelque chose pour toi. Comme d’autres à qui j’avais posé la même question, tu ignorais totalement ce qu’il pouvait désigner, tu me demandas même s’il s’agissait d’un mot de la langue française que tu ignorais.

Quand je t’ai appris qu’il s’agit d’une ville du Neguev, à tout juste 2 kms de Gaza, tu m’as répondu fièrement que tu savais beaucoup de choses sur Gaza et que, de la même façon que tu ignorais l’existence de Sdérot, les Israéliens ne savent rien de Chicoutimi ou de Trois-Rivières, par exemple.

Certes, tu as raison, mais il est un point capital qui fait toute la différence : dans les petites villes du Québec, la vie se déroule paisiblement, sans que les habitants courent chaque jour le risque d’être victimes d’un attentat. Il en va tout autrement de Sdérot qui, depuis 2001, vit sous une pluie quotidienne de roquettes lancées par les habitants de Gaza. Si bien que plus d’un tiers des habitants de Sdérot souffrent d’anxiété post-traumatique, et vivent des épisodes dépressifs.

Je voudrais donc te faire connaître – pas seulement à toi, mais à tous ceux qui comme toi ne savent rien de la vie dans les villes du sud d’Israël- le quotidien des habitants de ces villes, et surtout celui de ceux de Sdérot .

Je crois, naïvement peut-être, que mon action – et surtout ton action- pourrait aider à changer le monde, comme le dit Maïmonide. Si tu es éprise de justice et de liberté comme je le suis, si nous partageons les mêmes idéaux, les mêmes convictions et le même amour de la Vérité, alors lis cette lettre et diffuse-la autour de toi.

C’est vrai que grâce à la barrière de sécurité, les attentats ont cessé dans les grandes villes israéliennes. En revanche, les villes du sud, et surtout celle de Sdérot sont, tous les jours, la proie des roquettes Kassam qui s’abattent sur la ville avec la régularité d’une horloge, et sans que cela dérange le moins du monde la communauté internationale qui, par contre, est toujours prête à s’apitoyer sur le sort des « malheureux Palestiniens », victimes de l’arrogance israélienne.

Or, depuis 2001, pas moins de 12 700 roquettes et obus de mortier ont été tirés sur Sdérot et l’ouest du Néguev à partir de la bande de Gaza.

Depuis 2001, 44 personnes ont été tuées, 1700 blessées, et celles souffrant du choc post-traumatique se comptent par milliers. S’il n’y a pas davantage de blessés et de morts, sache simplement que cela tient du miracle, un miracle qui tient à la fois de D.ieu et de la technologie.

Je voudrais d’abord te rappeler qu’en 2005 les Israéliens ont fait évacuer Gaza, ont détruit les villages Juifs florissants que les désinformateurs appellent« colonies » avec la promesse qu’ils connaîtraient la paix, que les attentats cesseraient. Israël, la main toujours tendue vers la paix, Israël a cru naïvement que, comme tout peuple désireux d’améliorer son bien-être, les habitants de Gaza feraient bon usage de l’aide internationale et qu’ils mettraient en valeur leur ville. Mais la haine du Juif est si fortement ancrée dans les cœurs que la destruction d’Israël est leur priorité au lieu que ce soit la construction de leur « pays ».

C’est pourquoi, en guise de récompense, les Gazaouis ont choisi de gratifier les Israéliens de 3 missiles par jour en moyenne.

Je sais que ce que je te raconte, tu l’ignorais. Et pour cause! Qui s’intéresse au sort de Sdérot ou de toute autre ville du Sud ? Qui en parle ? Qui dénonce le comportement des Palestiniens ?

Certainement pas les médias qui ne sont guère intéressés par les Kassam qui s’abattent sur Sdérot, mais qui en revanche sont très attentifs aux réactions des Israéliens à ces provocations, et qui se sont plu à rappeler la phrase scandaleuse de Stéphane Hessel, à savoir que les tirs de roquettes n’ont d’autres conséquences que d’obliger, selon ses propres termes, « quelques enfants à courir très vite dans les abris ».

D’ailleurs ces quelques titres glanés dans les médias français montrent bien leur partialité dans le traitement du conflit israélo-arabe.

- Neuf Palestiniens tués, journée la plus meurtrière à Gaza depuis 2009 (L’Express, 8 avril 2011)

- Onze Palestiniens tués, journée la plus meurtrière à Gaza depuis 2009 (L’Express, 9 avril 2011)

- Gaza : deux Palestiniens tués dans des raids israéliens ( Le Monde, 23 juin 2012)

- Gaza : Un raid israélien provoque un accès de violence (Le Figaro, le 11 mars 2012)

-Israël contre les palestiniens (Radio Canada – novembre 2012)

La liste est trop longue !!!!

Tous ces titres, on le voit, incriminent directement Israël. Et les médias québécois s’alignent sur leurs confrères européens. Ainsi, le 12 novembre 2012, sur le site de Radio-Canada, on pouvait lire « Raid israélien sur la bande de Gaza ».

Qui plus est, pour les médias, les attaques contre des civils israéliens ne sont pas des actes de terrorisme, des actes de guerre, devrions-nous dire, ce sont des actes de « résistance légitime » !

Il faut reconnaître que s’ils manient allègrement l’hyperbole pour caractériser les réactions d’Israël, en revanche les médias disposent de toute une liste d’euphémismes pour qualifier les attaques dirigées par les Palestiniens contre Israël, l’important étant d’atténuer la réalité, de trouver des circonstances atténuantes à ces bandes d’assassins afin de ne pas choquer les lecteurs et de ne pas dégrader l’image du Palestinien.

Il s’agit de cacher à tout prix la réalité au lecteur, donc la vérité, le but étant de le convaincre que l’assassin est innocent, que le juif est seul responsable de ses déboires C’est en effet ce que laissait clairement entendre en février dernier, un commentateur de la RTB, qui qualifiait un habitant de Sdérot de colon. Un fait incroyable, mais pourtant authentique !

Il semble bien que le code de déontologie soit à bien des égards totalement obsolète pour un très grand nombre de journalistes comme ce professionnel de l’information qui, de toute évidence, aveuglé par ses préjugés à l’égard des Juifs, semble ignorer que Sdérot n’est nullement un « territoire contesté », que les habitants sont des citoyens israéliens à part entière.

Pour les médias, incapables de s’informer honnêtement sans laisser leurs préjugés entacher leur travail, il est sans doute plus facile de qualifier tous les Israéliens de colons.

D’ailleurs, en juillet 2011 la ville de Sdérot a lancé un appel aux médias étrangers pour leur demander « respectueusement de changer la façon dont (ils annoncent) les tirs continus de roquettes sur Israël depuis Gaza ».

« Nous, au Centre médiatique de Sdérot, nous vous exhortons à exposer avec plus d’insistance ces attaques, et à les présenter comme les exemples mêmes de guerre illégitime et criminelle contre des civils innocents. Sinon, ce en quoi les médias sont complices sans le vouloir, est une acceptation tacite de la terreur islamique extrémiste contre des civils innocents. »

Mais, comme il fallait s’y attendre, la demande de la ville resta lettre morte. Et tout comme le font l’Union européenne ou encore l’administration Obama, les médias blâment toujours le gouvernement israélien quand il défend son peuple.

Et qu’on ne vienne pas nous dire que l’ambassadeur américain en Israël Dan Shapiro a déclaré alors qu’il était en visite à Sdérot : « Je me sens en sécurité en Israël » !

Ou mieux encore que Hussein Obama a parlé de Sdérot au cours de sa campagne pour la présidence des États-Unis ! Certes, en attaquant son adversaire, il s’est plu à rappeler que lorsqu’il s’est rendu en Israël en tant que CANDIDAT (profitons-en pour souligner qu’il ne s’y est jamais arrêté au cours de son mandat), il est » descendu dans la ville frontalière de Sdérot qui a connu une pluie de missiles du Hamas. »

Ce que les médias, en grande partie favorables au candidat démocrate -aujourd’hui président- ne disent pas, c’est que les habitants de Sdérot ne sont pas dupes, et que leurs dirigeants ont accusé le candidat de se servir d’eux comme d’un « outil de campagne ». Ils ont rejeté cette référence à leur ville : « La référence à ce voyage était une déclaration politique et rien de plus» a déclaré Kobi Harush, de la division de sécurité de Sderot.

En réalité, les médias ne sont rien de moins que des terroristes intellectuels qui complètent avec des mots le travail des ennemis d’Israël. Ils travestissent l’information, sont le plus souvent à la solde des dirigeants occidentaux, ou tout au moins à leur image, c’est-à-dire faux, menteurs, lâches et hypocrites.

Je m’aperçois maintenant que je suis en train de faire le procès des médias, ce qui n’est pas dans mon intention, mon but étant de te sensibiliser au sort des habitants des villes du sud d’Israël.

Comment vivre dans les villes du sud d’Israël ?

Comment vivre dans la hantise permanente d’entendre la sirène hurler et de savoir qu’on ne dispose que de 15 secondes pour gagner un abri ? « Et quand ce n’est pas possible, quand on en est trop loin, me disait une amie, on se couche par terre, et on récite le Chema Israël ».

Sait-on jamais où tombera le missile ? Il peut traverser le toit et faire voler la maison en éclats, ou encore tomber dans votre jardin où quelques secondes plus tôt vos enfants jouaient, essayant d’oublier le drame quotidien.

A titre d’exemples, sache que près de 140 roquettes se sont abattues sur le sud d’Israël entre le samedi soir 10 novembre et le lundi 12.

Le 30 octobre dernier, une véritable pluie de roquettes a frappé l’ensemble des localités frontalières avec la bande de Gaza. La veille, pas moins de 26 roquettes ont atteint les maisons du Sud d’Israël.

Et le 24 octobre dernier, c’est le chiffre incroyable de 80 roquettes qui se sont abattues sur des maisons, des écoles, des jardins d’enfants.

Et ce que tu ignores également, c’est que les cibles favorites de ces assassins sont les écoles, donc les enfants.

Certes, on évoquera les enfants de Gaza et on nous dira que ce sont également d’innocentes victimes. Mais je ne parlerai pas ici des enfants de Gaza, non pas que leur sort soit plus enviable que celui des enfants juifs mais, d’une part, les musulmans qui représentent 20% de la population mondiale sont assez nombreux pour leur venir en aide et, d’autre part, les médias diffusent suffisamment d’images-choc pour nous apitoyer sur le sort des enfants palestiniens, et surtout pour présenter les soldats de Tsahal comme des brutes sanguinaires.

Évidemment, pas un média ne nous dira que les petits Palestiniens sont victimes, non pas de Tsahal, mais du Hamas qui les a choisis pour en faire de la chair à canon. Pourquoi les médias et les organisations de défense des droits de l’enfant ne dénoncent-elles pas violemment l’emploi des enfants comme boucliers humains ?

Pourquoi aucun média étranger ne parle-t-il des enfants de Sdérot, ces victimes innocentes de la guerre que leur livrent les habitants de Gaza ? Pourquoi ne relate-t-on pas les conséquences à court et à long terme du choc post-traumatique dont ils sont victimes ?

Alors, ce que je veux, c’est rendre hommage au courage exemplaire de tous les habitants des villes du Sud d’Israël, mais surtout te conscientiser au sort des enfants israéliens, et à celui des adultes, cela va sans dire.

Ces enfants juifs, à l’âge où les petits Québécois s’émerveillent devant le monde qu’ils découvrent, doivent apprendre à repérer l’abri le plus proche et à mettre leur masque à gaz. Bien entendu, ils sont affectés gravement, que ce soit sur le plan physique, ou pire sur le plan psychologique. Quand bien même ils ne sont pas des victimes directes, ils en subissent l’impact, et ce d’autant plus que bien souvent ce sont soit certains de leurs proches qui sont touchés , soit des voisins, soit des connaissances. Et ces traumatismes psychologiques se sont répétés quotidiennement sur une si longue période de temps, quasiment pendant toute leur enfance, que 70% d’entre eux souffrent de syndromes de stress post-traumatique.

Les manifestations sont nombreuses : ils refusent d’aller à l’école par crainte des roquettes, ils mouillent leur lit, refusent de dormir seuls, ou encore ont des difficultés d’endormissement. Ils sont très irritables, rencontrent de très graves difficultés d’adaptation scolaire : entre autres, ils ne réussissent ni à se concentrer ni à mémoriser, encore moins à rédiger. Il peut même arriver que certains, généralement les plus jeunes, retournent au biberon ou encore recommencent à sucer leur pouce.

Comment pourrait-il en être autrement ? En avril 2012, ils étaient 200 000 écoliers juifs à être privés d’école, et à devoir rester pendant plusieurs jours consécutifs dans les abris anti-missiles. Pareille situation est-elle acceptable?

Comme un dessin vaut mille mots, je t’invite à regarder attentivement ce dessin d’un enfant, tu y verras une image du quotidien des habitants de cette ville. Un dessin qui parle suffisamment, et qui décrit atrocement bien ce qui obsède ces enfants.

(Source Israël-Flash et Danilette)

Il y a aussi cette lettre d’un enfant de 9 ans adressée au chef d’État-major, Benny Gantz, pour lui demander de faire cesser les tirs de roquettes sur sa maison. «Je pense que notre armée est très forte, écrit-il, et j’espère que les terroristes de Gaza vont arrêter de nous tirer dessus.»

Confrontés à de telles situations, les parents eux-mêmes ne sont pas à l’abri de troubles psychologiques graves. Alors, comment peuvent-ils envisager l’avenir de leurs enfants, surtout quand ces derniers qui devraient, comme tous les enfants, entrevoir le futur avec optimisme, grandissent avec le sentiment que leur vie durant ils vont devoir vivre dans un climat d’insécurité ? Et il semble bien, hélas, que ce soit le cas, tout au moins durant leur enfance et leur adolescence.

Et on doit se demander comment ils réagiront quand, rendus à l’âge adulte, ils devront faire leur service militaire et prendre des décisions parfois très importantes. Grandiront-ils avec ce sentiment – un sentiment, hélas, bien connu du Juif- que le peuple juif est honni des autres peuples ?

Les conséquences économiques

Et je ne t’ai point parlé des conséquences économiques du terrorisme. Car contrairement à Gaza qui reçoit la coquette somme de 7 milliards de dollars par an de subventions des pays étrangers, Sdérot ne reçoit rien, n’intéresse personne. En fait, les seuls qui soient réellement préoccupés par le sort de Sdérot sont l’Armée de défense d’Israël, les dirigeants israéliens et, par-dessus tout, son maire qui, impuissant face au désastre économique qui frappe sa ville, a eu recours à la grève de la faim.

Quand un prisonnier palestinien choisit de faire la grève de la faim pour obtenir d’Israël ce qu’il demande, les médias du monde entier suivent quotidiennement son cas et s’apitoient sur son sort, ils désapprouvent l’État juif qui refuse de se plier à ses demandes, même si elles sont injustifiées, voire insensées, comme c’est souvent le cas.

Mais quand le 24 octobre dernier, le maire de Sdérot, David Bouskila, a recours à la même arme parce qu’il a besoin d’un soutien financier, sa ville étant criblée de dettes à cause des frais occasionnés par le terrorisme, les médias ne lui accordent pas une ligne. Pourtant, contrairement au prisonnier palestinien, le maire de Sdérot n’a commis aucun délit, il a simplement lancé un SOS pour sauver sa ville..

Alors, que faire contre les terroristes ?

Car ce sont bien des terroristes et non, comme on se plaît à les appeler, des « résistants ». Il serait sans doute bon que les médias revoient les définitions de ces deux concepts, ils s’apercevront alors que l’emploi du mot « résistant » est une insulte à ceux qui ont œuvré dans la Résistance.

1. Déserter la ville ? Bien sûr, c’est l’objectif que se sont fixé le Hamas et le Djihad : vider de leurs habitants Aschkelon et Sdérot. Mais ils n’y réussiront point.

Certes, dans bien des pays, si les habitants avaient dû vivre dans de telles conditions, la ville aurait été désertée depuis longtemps. Mais comme tous les habitants des villes du sud d’Israël, ceux de Sdérot ne laisseront pas mourir leur ville, ils ne laisseront les Palestiniens ni les anéantir ni anéantir leur ville.

Alors, pour ne pas être changée en ville-fantôme, Sdérot résiste, et tente de protéger ses habitants du mieux qu’elle peut, au grand dam des Palestiniens. Heureusement, le « Dôme de fer » permet d’intercepter 80% des missiles destinés à frapper la ville et d’éviter ainsi d’avoir un grand nombre de victimes civiles.

Mais les moyens de protection sont très coûteux et, contrainte d’investir des sommes astronomiques pour l’achat de moyens technologiques comme le Dôme de fer, Sdérot traverse une crise économique très grave qui touche tous les domaines d’activité.

2. Faut-il se contenter de la défense passive et attendre avec l’espoir que le Hamas se rendra à la raison et qu’il changera de comportement ? C’est ce que souhaiterait la communauté internationale, mais ce serait la pire des attitudes à adopter. Ce serait – et les Israéliens le savent – une erreur qui leur serait fatale. Se résigner à vivre ainsi, ce serait consentir à l’anéantissement de soi, ce serait faire preuve de faiblesse et encourager les Palestiniens à l’escalade. D’ailleurs, le judaïsme interdit ce type de comportement, il interdit le « vouloir-mourir » et prône au contraire le « vouloir-vivre ».

3. S’interroger sur les moyens auxquels recourraient d’autres pays s’ils se trouvaient dans la même situation ?

Le Porte-parole de Tsahal, le Général Yoav Poli Mordechai, a répondu à la question : « »Aucun pays ne laisserait un million de civils à la merci des roquettes et ne montrerait une telle retenue à l’égard de ceux qui les attaquent »

Et il a raison ! Honnêtement, je ne sais pas si nous, Québécois, de souche ou d’adoption, aurions toléré que nos voisins immédiats s’attaquent à un sixième de la population et à nos enfants comme le font ceux que les médias appellent d’un bel euphémisme, d’un doux mot, « les résistants », alors que ce ne sont que des assassins d’enfants. Crois-tu que le gouvernement resterait les bras croisés ? Comment vivrions-nous si nous avions pour voisins immédiats des hommes qui se sont fixé la triste mission de nous détruire ? Car l’objectif du Hamas et de tous les Palestiniens est de détruire l’État juif.

Et l’Union européenne attendrait-elle si longtemps si elle était menacée ? Nous savons tous que non. De toute évidence, tout autre pays aurait réagi et mis un terme depuis longtemps à ce genre d’attaques, quitte à entrer en guerre si besoin est. Mais dans le cas qui nous intéresse, celui d’Israël, on demande la retenue. D’ailleurs, à la suite des tirs du 11 novembre, Catherine Ashton, la représentante de l’Union européenne pour les Affaires étrangères, s’est déclarée « très préoccupée » par la flambée de violence et, au lieu d’appeler le Hamas à cesser ses tirs, elle a appelé les deux parties à la retenue.

Eh bien, Israël a suffisamment patienté et doit maintenant réagir. « Nous n’accepterons pas cette réalité insupportable où la vie de la population civile du sud du pays est menacée, a déclaré le Général Yoav Poli Mordechai, nous continuerons à opérer contre tout élément qui participe à des activités terroristes dans la bande de Gaza, »

D’ailleurs, le 30 octobre dernier, Bibi Netanyahou a annoncé une « dure réponse » aux tirs des palestiniens de Gaza. Et mieux encore, dimanche 11 novembre, le Premier ministre a été très clair et n’a pas craint d’affirmer que « Le monde doit comprendre qu’Israël ne restera pas sans rien faire face aux tentatives de nous attaquer », et il a ajouté que son pays est « prêt à l’escalade ».

4. Faut-il donc réagir et mettre en application le dicton « Aux grands maux les grands remèdes » ?

Il semble bien que ce soit la seule solution pour permettre à un million de personnes de vivre en paix. Personnellement, vois-tu, je ne comprends pas une telle retenue et une telle prudence de la part des Israéliens. Israël est un pays et a le droit de se défendre comme il l’entend sans avoir de comptes à rendre aux autres pays.

Bien sûr, si Israël réagit comme l’aurait fait tout autre pays qui se serait trouvé dans la même situation, la communauté internationale s’indigne. D’ailleurs, la quasi-totalité des décisions du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU sont adoptées contre l’État juif. Et les médias n’ont qu’une expression sous leur plume : « la force disproportionnée » dont use Israël pour se défendre.

Si aucun pays n’ose condamner vertement les tirs du Hamas, en revanche Israël est régulièrement cloué au pilori. Pourquoi ? Certes, l’explication coule de source : le combat contre les Juifs est un « combat de résistance », donc un combat noble ! N’oublions pas qu’il est de bon ton de soutenir et de défendre bec et ongles la cause palestinienne. Mais aussi – n’ayons pas peur des mots – à quelques exceptions près, les gens sont antisémites et, par conséquent, toute attaque contre les Juifs, aussi grave soit-elle, n’incommode personne. Il faut reconnaître que, depuis la nuit des temps, cette minorité a été oppressée et agressée sans que nul ne s’en émeuve.

Alors, pourquoi l’État juif devrait-il tenir compte des réactions de la communauté internationale ? Je l’ai dit et je le redis : quoi que fasse l’État juif, et même s’il choisit la passivité, il est accusé.

Comme de toute façon sa sécurité est bien le cadet des soucis de la communauté internationale, comme elle ne relève que de lui, et comme toutes ses tentatives pour mettre fin au terrorisme ont échoué, il faut appliquer le dicton « Aux grands maux les grands remèdes ».

Tsahal ne doit rien tolérer qui puisse mettre en danger la vie des Israéliens, et les frappes ciblées, aussi décriées qu’elles soient, doivent se poursuivre.

Les habitants de Sdérot demandent une offensive de Tsahal de grande envergure, et ils finiront bien par obtenir gain de cause. Il faut appliquer la tolérance zéro en ce qui concerne les risques à la sécurité des habitants.

Le temps n’est plus aux réticences, la patience du gouvernement, tout comme celle des habitants, a été mise à rude épreuve et il est fort possible que la réplique soit à la mesure de leur exaspération.

Dora Marrache

Chroniqueuse, pour Radio-Shalom, (Montréa)l pour israel-flash (Israël) et europe-israel (Europe)

Voir aussi:

ZOA: Where is Truth Behind Obama’s Sderot Election Anecdote?

ZOA: "A weak or non-existent presidential response transmits a message that these attacks are insufficient to warrant presidential concern."

Rachel Hirshfeld

Israel news

11/13/2012

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon President Barack Obama to condemn the wave of rocket attacks launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza in recent days.

Over the past four days, over 120 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza, eight people have been injured and 43 have been treated for shock. Over one million Israelis—around around one-eighth of the population—have been endangered and forced to repeatedly seek safety in bomb shelters. Up to this point, more than 600 missiles have been fired into Israel from Gaza during 2012.

While the United Nations, the European Union and France on Monday condemned the rocket fire, they also urged both parties not to take any steps that would escalate the situation.

"Both sides should do everything to avoid further escalation and must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a group of foreign ambassadors at a meeting in Ashkelon that Israel will take “whatever action is necessary to put a stop to this. This is not merely our right, it’s also our duty".

“We do not intend to allow – in any shape or form – the continued harming of the day to day life of our citizens,” added Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “As far as we are concerned, Hamas is responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip. Even when other organizations are carrying out [certain attacks], Hamas are not free from responsibility".

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein called on the United States to take action, saying "We are concerned that this heavy barrage of rocket fire on Israel launched by terrorist groups, which are targeting Israeli civilians with a view to inflicting maximum casualties, has been proceeding for four days without response from President Obama.”

"President Obama spoke in 2008 during his visit to Sderot and, more recently, during the second presidential debate, of his concern for Israeli civilians being subjected to rocket fire having to scramble without warning into bomb shelters and how he would take firm measures to protect his daughters if they were living in a home subject to this form of terrorist attack,” asserted Klein. “That is why it is disappointing, puzzling and concerning that we have not heard President Obama speak out on these attacks and affirm, as he did in 2008, that Israel has a right and duty to defend itself from such assaults. We urge him to do so now.”

Prior to the U.S. presidential election, Republicans had been lambasting Obama’s treatment of Israel and his failure to visit the Jewish state during his entire term in office.

In what many criticized as an election ploy, Obama appealed to the Jewish constituency by highlighting his visit to the country in 2008 as a presidential candidate, saying he had visited the “border towns of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas.”

“I saw families there who showed me there where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms,” Obama said. “And I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids. Which is why as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.

ZOA President Klein stated that at this critical time a “weak or non-existent presidential response transmits a message that these attacks are insufficient to warrant presidential concern and will be tolerated.”

“I cannot believe that that is a message President Obama would wish to convey to the terrorists groups in Gaza," Klein added.

Voir enfin:

Tirs contre Israël, fruits amers de la doctrine Obama

Guy Millière

14 novembre 2012

Des tirs en direction d’Israël ont eu lieu au cours des cinq derniers jours depuis Gaza. Ces tirs ont fait plusieurs blessés, dont un grave, et des dégâts divers. D’autres tirs ont eu lieu depuis le territoire syrien.

Rien n‘indique officiellement que ces tirs constituent des attaques concertées sur plusieurs fronts, mais tout laisse penser que la concertation existe et qu’il y a derrière celle-ci le régime iranien.

L’objectif évident est d’entraîner Israël vers une guerre régionale. Le gouvernement israélien discerne l’objectif et réagit, pour l’heure, de manière restreinte.

Une réaction restreinte pourra-t-elle rester indéfiniment à l’ordre du jour ? On peut se le demander très sérieusement.

Il n’est, de fait, pas tolérable que plus d’un million d’Israéliens doivent vivre sous la menace et dans un contexte de harcèlement constant.

Et quand bien même les gouvernements occidentaux pratiquent le relativisme, renvoient dos à dos sans cesse criminels et victimes, et qualifient toute riposte israélienne quelle qu’elle soit de « riposte disproportionnée ». Israël devra se donner tôt ou tard les moyens de placer ses agresseurs face aux conséquences de leurs actes, d’une manière bien plus nette que lors de l’opération Plomb durci.

On doit voir dans ces tirs et dans la situation régionale en laquelle Israël se trouve quelques-uns des fruits amers de la doctrine Obama.

La doctrine Obama a permis au régime iranien de gagner quatre ans dans son avancée vers l’arme atomique. Elle a laissé la Syrie glisser vers une guerre civile prolongée dans laquelle al Qaida est un acteur majeur. Elle a facilité l’accès des Frères musulmans au pouvoir en Egypte, et permis une synergie entre le nouveau gouvernement égyptien et le Hamas. Elle a été au cœur de la destruction du régime libyen et de la dissémination des armes de l’arsenal du colonel Kadhafi dans toute la région, jusqu’à Gaza et en Syrie, précisément.

Les tirs récents depuis Gaza ne viennent vraisemblablement pas du Hamas, mais le Hamas les cautionne et, conformément à la psychopathologie totalitaire qui les imprègne, les dirigeants de celui-ci parlent d’ « agression israélienne », bien sûr.

Les tirs depuis la Syrie viennent apparemment d’éléments de l’armée syrienne.

Israël n’a pas été dans un contexte aussi dangereux et aussi inflammable depuis plus de trente ans.

J’avoue être en colère contre l’électorat juif américain, qui a contribué à la réélection du principal responsable de cette situation : soixante dix pour cent des Juifs américains ont vote pour Barack Hussein Obama la semaine dernière.

J’avoue souhaiter la victoire, lors des prochaines élections israéliennes, de la coalition conduite par Binyamin Netanyahu, qui doit pouvoir disposer d’un mandat clair pour les rudes années qui viennent.

Et j’avoue souhaiter que le gouvernement israélien passe ensuite à des actions authentiquement et effectivement dissuasives.

Les islamistes ne comprennent que la force. Ils aiment la mort, disent-ils. Puisqu’ils aiment la mort, autant leur donner ce qu’ils aiment sans que cela fasse de victimes autres qu’eux, autant le faire vite, précisément, et d’une manière aussi définitive que possible.

Ici ou là, on parle de paix au Proche Orient, je sais. Ceux qui le font sont ceux qui parlaient de « printemps arabe » il y a dix-huit mois.

Faut-il le répéter ? Tout comme il n’y a pas eu de « printemps arabe », il n’y a pas de paix en perspective.

Le monde arabe, et une bonne part du monde musulman, sont en proie à l’islam radical auquel Obama a donné une sorte de feu vert lors de son discours du Caire en juin 2009.

La paix, elle, s’est éloignée davantage dans la même période. Elle ne pourra venir que lorsqu’il y aura un vainqueur et un vaincu, et que la victoire de l’un, et la défaite de l’autre seront sans appel.

Israël doit être vainqueur. Les islamistes doivent être vaincus, irrémédiablement pour eux.

La seule bonne nouvelle issue de l’élection américaine du 6 novembre dernier, strictement la seule, est que les Israéliens, comprenant que la doctrine Obama n’appartient pas au passé, discernent plus que jamais qu ils doivent compter sur leurs propres forces, et attendre le moins possible des Etats Unis tels qu’ils deviennent.

Ce que j’aime en Israël est que c’est un pays où les valeurs de la civilisation occidentale sont vivantes, très vivantes.

Ce que n’aiment pas la nomenklatura européenne et la gauche américaine lorsqu’il s’agit d’Israël, c’est précisément cela: les valeurs de la civilisation occidentale vivantes encore, très vivants en Israël.

La nomenklatura européenne et la gauche américaine préfèrent s’appuyer sur le Qatar, sur les Frères musulmans, sur d’autres islamistes. Cela s’appelle l’apaisement quand on utilise des termes polis. Je préfère appeler cela l’attitude du paillasson face à celui qui veut essuyer ses pieds crottés.

Venant de rentrer en France, je découvre à l’instant que les « rebelles » syriens vont se rassembler sous l’égide d’un « modéré ». Ce « modéré » est un islamiste antisémite bon teint, cela va de soi. Si Assad tombe, c’est ce genre de personnage qui arrivera au pouvoir. Le choix en Syrie, je l’ai déjà écrit, est entre la peste Assad et le choléra islamiste. La France, le reste de l’Europe, l’administration Obama, Obama lui-même, semblent opter pour le choléra islamiste. S’ils le disaient sans circonlocutions, ce serait honnête, mais ces gens ne sont pas honnêtes et ils sont lâches.

On appelle « modéré » en Occident aujourd’hui tout islamiste qui ne tue pas immédiatement l’ensemble de ceux qui sont à sa proximité.

Avec cette définition de la « modération », il n’est pas étonnant que quiconque dénonce les dangers de l’islam radical soit traité d’individu d’extrême droite. L’islam radical, lui, n’est pas du tout d’extrême droite, bien sûr… C’est pour cela que ses adeptes apprécient la lecture de Mein Kampf, un livre qui n’est pas du tout d’extrême droite, comme chacun le sait.


Election américaine 2012/Affaire Petraeus: Attention, un scandale peut en cacher un autre (The real scandal within the scandal: Obama’s still in the secret detention business)

14 novembre, 2012
Les drones américains ont liquidé plus de monde que le nombre total des détenus de Guantanamo. Pouvons nous être certains qu’il n’y avait parmi eux aucun cas d’erreurs sur la personne ou de morts innocentes ? Les prisonniers de Guantanamo avaient au moins une chance d’établir leur identité, d’être examinés par un Comité de surveillance et, dans la plupart des cas, d’être relâchés. Ceux qui restent à Guantanamo ont été contrôlés et, finalement, devront faire face à une forme quelconque de procédure judiciaire. Ceux qui ont été tués par des frappes de drones, quels qu’ils aient été, ont disparu. Un point c’est tout. Kurt Volker
According to a source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces. Fox News (October 26, 2012)
Now, I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually, um, had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted. Paula Broadwell (Oct. 26, 2012)
A well-placed Washington source confirms to Fox News that there were Libyan militiamen being held at the CIA annex in Benghazi and that their presence was being looked at as a possible motive for the staged attack on the consulate and annex that night. According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location. The Libya annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier. Fox news (Nov. 12, 2012)
Based on what is known, what is most disturbing about the whole Petraeus scandal is not the sexual activities that it revealed, but the wildly out-of-control government surveillance powers which enabled these revelations. What requires investigation here is not Petraeus and Allen and their various sexual partners but the FBI and the whole sprawling, unaccountable surveillance system that has been built. The Guardian
Les États-Unis sont perçus comme un pays puritain où l’adultère est un problème. L’adultère peut être considéré comme un motif suffisant de démission par les conservateurs, la frange des républicains la plus radicale sur les questions de société, religieuses et morales. Mais si le responsable public fait ses aveux et son mea culpa, y compris devant le public, il peut s’en remettre assez facilement, même si c’est un républicain. Ce n’est que lorsque cela échappe au contrôle des protagonistes, que l’on cache des faits et qu’il y a une enquête que cela devient compliqué. Pour les Américains, ce qui pose problème, c’est plus ce que l’on cache. En outre, le fait pour un responsable public de mentir ou de dissimuler une aventure extraconjugale va focaliser l’attention et être une source de discrédit politique. Même si les individus impliqués n’ont commis aucun délit, ni violé aucune loi, il est difficile de s’en remettre. C’est surtout cela que le général Petraeus a voulu éviter en offrant sa démission qui a été acceptée par Barack Obama. Il s’agit d’abord de ne pas donner aux républicains l’opportunité de créer un embarras politique en lançant des enquêtes, prendre les devants avant que la situation ne devienne ingérable. Le fait que cette démission intervienne après l’élection présidentielle n’est pas anodin. Cette démission passera plus facilement dans le cadre du renouvellement prévu d’une grande partie des responsables de l’administration Obama avant le second mandat présidentiel qui commence en janvier. Olivier Delhomme
L’administration Obama a toujours cherché à contrôler très étroitement sa communication et à éviter les scandales. Les démocrates n’ont pas oublié ce qui s’est passé pendant la présidence de Bill Clinton (NDLR : l’affaire Monica Lewinsky) et ne veulent pas prendre de risque avec ce genre de choses. »Vue depuis la France, où l’on n’imagine pas une seconde le patron des RG démissionner pour une histoire de maîtresse, l’affaire paraît disproportionnée. Mais aux Etats-Unis, on ne plaisante pas avec l’infidélité. Bill Clinton, tout le monde s’en souvient, a frôlé l’impeachment pour ça. L’armée, en particulier, prend l’adultère très au sérieux. Le code militaire en vigueur aux Etats-Unis classe l’adultère comme un crime, car portant «atteinte à l’ordre» et venant jeter le discrédit sur l’ensemble des troupes (cf. l’article 134). Dans le cas de Petraeus, cependant, il ne s’agit pas que de puritanisme. «Semblable comportement est inacceptable à la fois comme époux et comme patron d’une organisation telle que la nôtre», s’est-il excusé. Par ces termes, il place lui-même sa «faute» sur deux plans : celui des mœurs, et celui de la sécurité. A ce niveau de responsabilités, qui dit maîtresse (ou amant) dit fuites possibles. Risque de chantage, aussi. En l’état de l’enquête, rien ne permet de conclure que Petraeus a transmis des infos. Mais pour les Américains, David Petraeus, la tête d’une organisation détenant les informations les plus ultraconfidentielles qui soient, apparaît comme un homme qui a failli. Un homme qui s’est mis en position de faiblesse, et son organisation avec lui. Libération
D’après les éléments collectés par la presse, dont le New York Times, tout a débuté au début de l’été, quand le FBI a ouvert une enquête sur six mails anonymes de menace envoyés à Jill Kelley. Pourquoi l’affaire a-t-elle mis plusieurs mois à sortir ? Ce n’est en effet que le 6 novembre, jour de la réélection de Barack Obama, que le supérieur de David Petraeus, le directeur national du renseignement (DNI), James Clapper, a été mis au courant. La Maison Blanche l’a été le lendemain. Il n’en faut pas plus pour que certains flairent le complot. Mais complot orchestré par qui, pourquoi ? Autre point troublant, que les républicains n’ont pas manqué de relever : la démission de Petraeus est intervenue juste avant l’ouverture, ce mardi, des auditions à huis clos prévues devant le Congrès sur l’attaque contre le consulat américain le 11 septembre à Benghazi, en Libye. La réaction de la CIA dans cette attaque a été mise en cause. A ce titre, David Petraeus devait témoigner. Ce sera finalement le directeur adjoint de l’agence, Michael Morell, qui ira à sa place. Reste que la commission du renseignement du Sénat américain va enquêter pour savoir pourquoi le FBI ne l’a pas informée de l’affaire Petraeus : «Nous aurions dû être informés, il s’agit de quelque chose qui aurait pu avoir un effet sur la sécurité nationale», a souligné sa présidente. Libération

COMPLEMENT:

And that brings us to the ultimate issue, and that is his testimony on September 13. That’s the thing that connects the two scandals, and that’s the only thing that makes the sex scandal relevant. Otherwise it would be an exercise in sensationalism and voyeurism and nothing else. The reason it’s important is here’s a man who knows the administration holds his fate in its hands, and he gives testimony completely at variance with what the Secretary of Defense had said the day before, at variance with what he’d heard from his station chief in Tripoli, and with everything that we had heard. Was he influenced by the fact that he knew his fate was held by people within the administration at that time? Of course it was being held over Petraeus’s head, and the sword was lowered on Election Day. You don’t have to be a cynic to see that as the ultimate in cynicism. As long as they needed him to give the administration line to quote Bill, everybody was silent. And as soon as the election’s over, as soon as he can be dispensed with, the sword drops and he’s destroyed. I mean, can you imagine what it’s like to be on that pressure and to think it didn’t distort or at least in some way unconsciously influence his testimony? That’s hard to believe. Charles Krauthammer

Pour ceux qui n’auraient toujours pas compris que l’intérêt des scandales, c’est ce qu’ils révèlent sur ce qui passait jusque là pour la normalité …

Alors que nos médias s’excitent sur l’Affaire Petraeus (élargie à présent jusqu’au commandant des forces de l’Otan en Afghanistan John Allen) et le cliché habituel du puritanisme américain …

Pendant que, dans l’indifférence générale, les roquettes pleuvent littéralement sur Israël …

Retour, avec Fox news, sur le scandale dans le scandale …

A savoir, inaperçue sur le moment par Fox news elle-même au-delà du premier scandale d’une attaque faussement présentée comme la réponse à une vidéo anti-islam et à moins d’une semaine d’une élection présidentielle cruciale, la confirmation du véritable bilan de celui qui aura liquidé plus de monde avec ses drones que n’en aura incarcéré la prison de Guantanamo qu’il avait pourtant promis de fermer …

Autrement dit, dans le cas précis où l’on apprenait par la bande que l’attaque sur le consulat de Benghazi qui avait tué le premier ambassadeur américain en plus de 30 ans aurait en fait eu pour but de libérer des détenus dans ce qui semble être devenu de fait un lieu secret de détention pour toutes sortes de jihadistes issus d’une bonne partie du continent africain …

La confirmation que, contrairement à tout ce qui avait été dit et répété (et tant critiqué dans l’Administration précédente), la CIA du plus rapide prix Nobel de l’histoire est toujours dans le "secret detention business" …

EXCLUSIVE: CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say

Jennifer Griffin

FoxNews.com

October 26, 2012

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down."

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, though, denied the claims that requests for support were turned down.

"We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi," she said. "Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades."

The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they were never told to deploy. In fact, a Pentagon official says there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Spectre gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.

According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.

"There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here," Panetta said Thursday. "But the basic principle here … is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on."

U.S. officials argue that there was a period of several hours when the fighting stopped before the mortars were fired at the annex, leading officials to believe the attack was over.

Fox News has learned that there were two military surveillance drones redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the consulate began. They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft was sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were capable of sending real time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real time on their computers.

Tyrone Woods was later joined at the scene by fellow former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was sent in from Tripoli as part of a Global Response Staff or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers and provides countersurveillance and surveillance protection. They were killed by a mortar shell at 4 a.m. Libyan time, nearly seven hours after the attack on the consulate began — a window that represented more than enough time for the U.S. military to send back-up from nearby bases in Europe, according to sources familiar with Special Operations. Four mortars were fired at the annex. The first one struck outside the annex. Three more hit the annex.

A motorcade of dozens of Libyan vehicles, some mounted with 50 caliber machine guns, belonging to the February 17th Brigades, a Libyan militia which is friendly to the U.S., finally showed up at the CIA annex at approximately 3 a.m. An American Quick Reaction Force sent from Tripoli had arrived at the Benghazi airport at 2 a.m. (four hours after the initial attack on the consulate) and was delayed for 45 minutes at the airport because they could not at first get transportation, allegedly due to confusion among Libyan militias who were supposed to escort them to the annex, according to Benghazi sources.

The American special operators, Woods, Doherty and at least two others were part of the Global Response Staff, a CIA element, based at the CIA annex and were protecting CIA operators who were part of a mission to track and repurchase arms in Benghazi that had proliferated in the wake of Muammar Qaddafi’s fall. Part of their mission was to find the more than 20,000 missing MANPADS, or shoulder-held missiles capable of bringing down a commercial aircraft. According to a source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces.

Fox News has also learned that Stevens was in Benghazi that day to be present at the opening of an English-language school being started by the Libyan farmer who helped save an American pilot who had been shot down by pro-Qaddafi forces during the initial war to overthrow the regime. That farmer saved the life of the American pilot and the ambassador wanted to be present to launch the Libyan rescuer’s new school.

Voir aussi:

EXCLUSIVE: Petraeus mistress may have revealed classified information at Denver speech on real reason for Libya attack

Jennifer Griffin, Adam Housley

FoxNews.com

November 12, 2012

Biographer Paula Broadwell could be facing questions about whether she revealed classified information about the Libya attack that she was privy to due to her relationship with then-CIA Director David Petraeus.

At an Oct. 26 speech at her alma mater, the University of Denver, on the same day that Fox News reported that the rescue team at the CIA annex had been denied help, Broadwell was asked about Petraeus’ handling of the Benghazi situation.

Her response was reported originally by Israel’s Arutz Sheva and Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounshell.

Broadwell quoted the Fox News report when she said: “The facts that came out today were that the ground forces there at the CIA annex, which is different from the consulate, were requesting reinforcements."

Broadwell went on to explain more sensitive details from the Benghazi attacks, particularly concerning what the real cause might have been.

“Now, I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually, um, had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.”

In the original Oct. 26 Fox News report, sources at the annex said that the CIA’s Global Response Staff had handed over three Libyan militia members to the Libyan authorities who came to rescue the 30 Americans in the early hours of Sept. 12.

A well-placed Washington source confirms to Fox News that there were Libyan militiamen being held at the CIA annex in Benghazi and that their presence was being looked at as a possible motive for the staged attack on the consulate and annex that night.

According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.

The Libya annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier.

The CIA, though, categorically denied these allegations, saying: “The CIA has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued. Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless.”

Broadwell’s affair with Petraeus was likely known to Holly Petraeus, according to family friends. The FBI reportedly knew about it months beforehand and White House Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan reportedly was aware that there was a relationship as early as the summer of 2011.

The White House strongly denied that Brennan was aware so early.

“It is irresponsible and flat out wrong for Fox News to run an anonymous, unsubstantiated, and blatantly false accusation, as Mr. Brennan was first made aware of the issue last Wednesday," spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Broadwell, whose affair with Petraeus reportedly ended earlier this year, continued to serve as an informal spokesman for the CIA director. She suggests in her Denver speech that Petraeus knew almost immediately that the attack was a terror attack — possibly to free militia members.

A few days later, Petraeus testified in a closed session to Congress that the attack was due in large part to an anti-Islam video and a spontaneous uprising, according to reports from the hearing.

Congressional leaders say privately they believe they were lied to by Petraeus when he testified shortly after the attack. Some of these members already considered charging Petraeus with perjury, but said they planned to withhold judgment until he testified this week. After resigning as CIA director, the CIA said Acting Director Mike Morrell would testify in his place

All of this raises the question: What was the CIA really doing in Benghazi in addition to searching for Qaddafi’s stash of more than 22,000 shoulder-held missiles that could bring down commercial airplanes, and who in the White House knew exactly what the CIA was up to?

Voir également:

FBI’s Abuse of the Surveillance State Is the Real Scandal

Glen Greenwald

Guardian UK

13 November 12

That the stars of America’s national security establishment are being devoured by out-of-control surveillance is a form of sweet justice

The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning – "Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers’ Ethics" – illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it’s only adultery that causes "concern" over their "ethics"). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state.

As is now widely reported, the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley – a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) – received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.

That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation:

"The emails that Jill Kelley showed an FBI friend near the start of last summer were not jealous lover warnings like ‘stay away from my man’, a knowledgeable source tells The Daily Beast. . . .

"‘More like, ‘Who do you think you are? . . .You parade around the base . . . You need to take it down a notch,’" according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.

"The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite. . . . v"When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted the absence of any overt threats.

"No, ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I’ll burn your house down," the source says. ‘It doesn’t seem really that bad.’

"The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.

"‘What does this mean? There’s no threat there. This is against the law?’ the agents asked themselves by the source’s account.

"At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.

"‘It was a close call,’ the source says.

"What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent."

That this deeply personal motive was what spawned the FBI investigation is bolstered by the fact that the initial investigating agent "was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he was personally involved in the case" – indeed, "supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter" – and was found to have "allegedly sent shirtless photos" to Kelley, and "is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI".

[The New York Times this morning reports that the FBI claims the emails contained references to parts of Petraeus' schedule that were not publicly disclosed, though as Marcy Wheeler documents, the way the investigation proceeded strongly suggests that at least the initial impetus behind it was a desire to settle personal scores.]

What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI’s investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime – or the need for any search warrant:

"Because the sender’s account had been registered anonymously, investigators had to use forensic techniques – including a check of what other e-mail accounts had been accessed from the same computer address – to identify who was writing the e-mails.

"Eventually they identified Ms. Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular e-mail account. In its in-box, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit e-mails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr. Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone had hacked into Mr. Petraeus’s account or was posing as him to send the explicit messages."

So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell’s physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime – at most, they had a case of "cyber-harassment" more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people – and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.

But that isn’t all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered "alleged inappropriate communication" to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now "on hold"). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:

"The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications – mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 – between Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .

"Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official said, on condition of anonymity: ‘We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.’"

So not only did the FBI – again, all without any real evidence of a crime – trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell’s emails (and possibly Petraeus’), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley.

This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.

But, as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America’s national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside. As Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this morning: "Who knew the key to stopping the Surveillance State was to just wait until it got so big that it ate itself?"

It is usually the case that abuses of state power become a source for concern and opposition only when they begin to subsume the elites who are responsible for those abuses. Recall how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman – one of the most outspoken defenders of the illegal Bush National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless eavesdropping program – suddenly began sounding like an irate, life-long ACLU privacy activist when it was revealed that the NSA had eavesdropped on her private communications with a suspected Israeli agent over alleged attempts to intervene on behalf of AIPAC officials accused of espionage. Overnight, one of the Surveillance State’s chief assets, the former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, transformed into a vocal privacy proponent because now it was her activities, rather than those of powerless citizens, which were invaded.

With the private, intimate activities of America’s most revered military and intelligence officials being smeared all over newspapers and televisions for no good reason, perhaps similar conversions are possible. Put another way, having the career of the beloved CIA Director and the commanding general in Afghanistan instantly destroyed due to highly invasive and unwarranted electronic surveillance is almost enough to make one believe not only that there is a god, but that he is an ardent civil libertarian.

The US operates a sprawling, unaccountable Surveillance State that – in violent breach of the core guarantees of the Fourth Amendment – monitors and records virtually everything even the most law-abiding citizens do. Just to get a flavor for how pervasive it is, recall that the Washington Post, in its 2010 three-part "Top Secret America" series, reported: "Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications."

Equally vivid is this 2007 chart from Privacy International, a group that monitors the surveillance policies of nations around the world. Each color represents the level of the nation’s privacy and surveillance policies, with black being the most invasive and abusive ("Endemic Surveillance Societies") and blue being the least ("Consistently upholds human rights standards"):

And the Obama administration has spent the last four years aggressively seeking to expand that Surveillance State, including by agitating for Congressional action to amend the Patriot Act to include Internet and browsing data among the records obtainable by the FBI without court approval and demanding legislation requiring that all Internet communications contain a government "backdoor" of surveillance.

Based on what is known, what is most disturbing about the whole Petraeus scandal is not the sexual activities that it revealed, but the wildly out-of-control government surveillance powers which enabled these revelations. What requires investigation here is not Petraeus and Allen and their various sexual partners but the FBI and the whole sprawling, unaccountable surveillance system that has been built.

Related Notes

(1) One of the claims made over the last week was that Broadwell, in public comments about the Benghazi attack, referenced non-public information – including that the CIA was holding prisoners in Benghazi and that this motivated the attack – suggesting that someone gave her classified information. About those claims, a national security reporter for Fox reported:

"that a well-placed Washington source confirms that Libyan militiamen were being held at the CIA annex and may have been a possible reason for the attack. Multiple intelligence sources, she also reported, said ‘there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.’"

Though the CIA denies that "the agency is still in the detention business", it certainly should be investigated to determine whether the CIA is maintaining off-the-books detention facilities in Libya.

(2) I’ve long noted that Michael Hastings is one of the nation’s best and most valuable journalists; to see why that is so, please watch the amazing 8-minute clip from last night’s Piers Morgan Show on CNN embedded below, when he appeared with two Petraeus-defending military officials (via the Atlantic’s Adam Clark Estes). When you’re done watching that, contrast that with the remarkably candid confession this week from Wired’s national security reporter Spencer Ackerman on how he, along with so many other journalists, hypnotically joined what he aptly calls the "Cult of David Petraeus".

Voir encore:

Démission du patron de la CIA : les raisons cachées derrière le pretexte de l’affaire de l’adultère

La démission du général David Petraeus laisse la CIA sans chef. Officiellement, il s’agit d’un scandale déclenché par une liaison extra conjugale. Mais le général a sans doute aussi payé le fiasco de l’attaque du consulat américain à Benghazi qui a fait 3 morts américains, dont l’ambassadeur.

La CIA décapitée

12 novembre 2012

La démission surprise du général David Petraeus, héros de l’Irak et de l’Afghanistan, laisse la CIA sans chef. Officiellement, il s’agirait d’un scandale déclenché par une liaison du général avec sa ravissante biographe, après 37 ans de mariage. Selon la tradition américaine, le général David Petraeus s’est frappé la poitrine auprès des medias, maudissant son erreur de jugement, et a même demandé aux membres de la CIA de lui pardonner ses errements.

Bizarrement, cette démission surprise n’avait été précédée d’aucun scandale révélé par les medias américains. On peut donc légitimement se poser la question de savoir si c’est la véritable raison du départ du général Petraeus.

Par contre, cette démission s’inscrit entre deux évènements majeurs : l’attaque du consulat américain à Benghazi qui a fait 3 morts américains, dont l’ambassadeur, et la réélection de Barack Obama. Aussi pense-t-on à Washington que le général Petraeus, qui était un brillant militaire, mais n’avait aucune expérience du renseignement, a été dégagé simplement parce qu’il n’était pas à la hauteur. On sait que Barack Obama avait violemment réagi à l’incident de Benghazi : cela faisait plus de 30 ans qu’un ambassadeur américain n’avait pas été assassiné.

David Petraeus devait être entendu par la commission d’enquête sur l’affaire de Benghazi dans quelques jours et il risquait d’avoir à avouer que la CIA avait failli. Lourdement.

On peut donc penser qu’une combinaison de pressions de la Maison blanche et sa propre réticence à avouer les erreurs de l’Agence ont provoqué cette fausse démission. Personne ne le regrettera à Langley, car il n’avait pas vraiment marqué de son empreinte la grande agence de renseignements.

Voir encore:

Sexe, menaces et documents secrets, les dessous de l’affaire Petraeus

CB

Libération

13 novembre 2012

Apparue sans prévenir vendredi, l’affaire Petraeus tourne à l’imbroglio, sans que l’on comprenne d’ailleurs encore bien où est le scandale. Rappel des faits pour s’y retrouver.

Ce que l’on sait

D’abord, l’affaire Petraeus proprement dite. Elle a éclaté publiquement vendredi, quand David Petraeus, le directeur de la CIA, 60 ans, marié depuis trente-sept ans, général considéré comme un héros national pour son rôle dans la guerre d’Irak, a annoncé sa démission. Motif ? Une «relation extraconjugale». L’Amérique se pince. Le nom de Paula Broadwell (photo Reuters, au côté de David Petraeus), auteure d’une biographie sur lui, apparaît rapidement pour le rôle de la maîtresse. La relation entre Petraeus et Paula Broadwell a débuté deux mois après son arrivée à la tête de la CIA en septembre 2011, et a pris fin il y a quatre mois, précisera Steve Boylanun, ami et ancien porte-parole de Petraeus.

Deuxième étape, deuxième femme. Une certaine Jill Kelley (photo Reuters), 37 ans, domicilée à Tampa, en Floride, apparaît dans l’affaire. C’est une proche de la famille Petraeus. Elle est allée voir le FBI au début de l’été pour se plaindre de courriers électroniques anonymes menaçants. L’enquête a révélé que ces messages étaient envoyés par Paula Broadwell. En remontant le fil, le FBI est ensuite tombé sur des mails entre Paula Broadwell et Petraeus. C’est cette correspondance par mails qui fera éclater le scandale.

Le 22 octobre, Paula Broadwell est entendue par le FBI. Elle remet aux enquêteurs son ordinateur. Ils y découvrent des dossiers classés «secret». Elle affirme que ce n’est pas David Petraeus qui les lui a fournis. Ce dernier, également entendu, soutient de son côté qu’il n’a rien transmis à sa maîtresse. Les enquêteurs concluent qu’il n’y a aucun élément laissant penser que le directeur de la CIA lui a fourni des documents classifiés et a violé la loi.

Troisième étape, ce mardi, avec l’apparition d’une affaire dans l’affaire. Ce nouveau volet met en cause un nouveau protagoniste, John Allen, le commandant des forces de l’Otan en Afghanistan. Cet officier discret bardé de diplômes, qui a gagné ses lettres de noblesse en Irak, est l’objet d’une enquête pour avoir envoyé des courriels «inappropriés» à la fameuse Jill Kelley. Le FBI a découvert 30 000 pages de correspondance entre eux, selon le Pentagone. Une autre histoire de coucheries ? Non, selon un responsable américain proche du général Allen, interrogé par le Washington Post : «Il n’a jamais été seul avec elle. A-t-il eu une laison ? Non.» Par ailleurs, selon lui, la correspondance entre les deux était «loin» d’atteindre le volume décrit. Ils ont échangé «quelques centaines de courriers électroniques au fil des années».

En attendant que l’enquête permette d’y voir plus clair, Barack Obama a suspendu la nomination de John Allen à la tête des forces de l’Otan. A près de 59 ans, le général Allen devait succéder à l’amiral James Stavridis au printemps 2013, sous réserve de confirmation par le Sénat américain.

Où est le problème ?

Vue depuis la France, où l’on n’imagine pas une seconde le patron des RG démissionner pour une histoire de maîtresse, l’affaire paraît disproportionnée. Mais aux Etats-Unis, on ne plaisante pas avec l’infidélité. Bill Clinton, tout le monde s’en souvient, a frôlé l’impeachment pour ça. L’armée, en particulier, prend l’adultère très au sérieux. Le code militaire en vigueur aux Etats-Unis classe l’adultère comme un crime, car portant «atteinte à l’ordre» et venant jeter le discrédit sur l’ensemble des troupes (cf. l’article 134).

Dans le cas de Petraeus, cependant, il ne s’agit pas que de puritanisme. «Semblable comportement est inacceptable à la fois comme époux et comme patron d’une organisation telle que la nôtre», s’est-il excusé. Par ces termes, il place lui-même sa «faute» sur deux plans : celui des mœurs, et celui de la sécurité. A ce niveau de responsabilités, qui dit maîtresse (ou amant) dit fuites possibles. Risque de chantage, aussi. En l’état de l’enquête, rien ne permet de conclure que Petraeus a transmis des infos. Mais pour les Américains, David Petraeus, la tête d’une organisation détenant les informations les plus ultraconfidentielles qui soient, apparaît comme un homme qui a failli. Un homme qui s’est mis en position de faiblesse, et son organisation avec lui.

Leon Panetta, lui-même ancien patron de la CIA et actuel secrétaire à la Défense, a d’ailleurs commenté la démission de son successeur comme étant une «bonne décision» car «il est très important quand vous êtes directeur de la CIA, avec tous les défis que vous devez relever, que vous ayez avant toute chose une intégrité personnelle».

Pourquoi le calendrier pose question

D’après les éléments collectés par la presse, dont le New York Times, tout a débuté au début de l’été, quand le FBI a ouvert une enquête sur six mails anonymes de menace envoyés à Jill Kelley. Pourquoi l’affaire a-t-elle mis plusieurs mois à sortir ? Ce n’est en effet que le 6 novembre, jour de la réélection de Barack Obama, que le supérieur de David Petraeus, le directeur national du renseignement (DNI), James Clapper, a été mis au courant. La Maison Blanche l’a été le lendemain. Il n’en faut pas plus pour que certains flairent le complot. Mais complot orchestré par qui, pourquoi ?

Autre point troublant, que les républicains n’ont pas manqué de relever : la démission de Petraeus est intervenue juste avant l’ouverture, ce mardi, des auditions à huis clos prévues devant le Congrès sur l’attaque contre le consulat américain le 11 septembre à Benghazi, en Libye. La réaction de la CIA dans cette attaque a été mise en cause. A ce titre, David Petraeus devait témoigner. Ce sera finalement le directeur adjoint de l’agence, Michael Morell, qui ira à sa place. Reste que la commission du renseignement du Sénat américain va enquêter pour savoir pourquoi le FBI ne l’a pas informée de l’affaire Petraeus : «Nous aurions dû être informés, il s’agit de quelque chose qui aurait pu avoir un effet sur la sécurité nationale», a souligné sa présidente.

 Voir enfin:

Pourquoi l’adultère est-il un motif de démission aux États-Unis ?

Des responsables du FBI et de la CIA doivent faire le point mardi 13 novembre au Congrès sur l’affaire d’adultère qui a entraîné la démission surprise du patron de la CIA David Petraeus.

Les parlementaires veulent en savoir plus sur le calendrier de l’enquête, ses répercussions ou d’éventuelles atteintes à la sécurité nationale. La présidente de la commission du renseignement du Sénat américain, la démocrate Dianne Feinstein, a assuré que sa commission va enquêter pour savoir pourquoi le FBI n’a pas informé cette dernière de l’affaire Petraeus.

Le FBI a découvert la liaison du général avec Paula Broadwell en enquêtant sur les courriels de celle-ci à Jill Kelley, une amie de longue date de David Petraeus qui, se disant harcelée par Paula Broadwell, a demandé la protection du FBI. Analyse d’Olivier Richomme, maître de conférences en civilisation américaine à l’université Lyon 2.

« Les États-Unis sont perçus comme un pays puritain où l’adultère est un problème. L’adultère peut être considéré comme un motif suffisant de démission par les conservateurs, la frange des républicains la plus radicale sur les questions de société, religieuses et morales.

Mais si le responsable public fait ses aveux et son mea culpa, y compris devant le public, il peut s’en remettre assez facilement, même si c’est un républicain. Ce n’est que lorsque cela échappe au contrôle des protagonistes, que l’on cache des faits et qu’il y a une enquête que cela devient compliqué.

Pour les Américains, ce qui pose problème, c’est plus ce que l’on cache. En outre, le fait pour un responsable public de mentir ou de dissimuler une aventure extraconjugale va focaliser l’attention et être une source de discrédit politique. Même si les individus impliqués n’ont commis aucun délit, ni violé aucune loi, il est difficile de s’en remettre.

L’ombre de l’affaire Monica Lewinsky

C’est surtout cela que le général Petraeus a voulu éviter en offrant sa démission qui a été acceptée par Barack Obama. Il s’agit d’abord de ne pas donner aux républicains l’opportunité de créer un embarras politique en lançant des enquêtes, prendre les devants avant que la situation ne devienne ingérable.

Le fait que cette démission intervienne après l’élection présidentielle n’est pas anodin. Cette démission passera plus facilement dans le cadre du renouvellement prévu d’une grande partie des responsables de l’administration Obama avant le second mandat présidentiel qui commence en janvier.

L’administration Obama a toujours cherché à contrôler très étroitement sa communication et à éviter les scandales. Les démocrates n’ont pas oublié ce qui s’est passé pendant la présidence de Bill Clinton (NDLR : l’affaire Monica Lewinsky) et ne veulent pas prendre de risque avec ce genre de choses. »

RECUEILLI PAR FRANÇOIS D’ALANÇON


Présidentielle américaine/2012: La fin de la civilisation telle que nous la connaissons ? (We are now, without a doubt, America’s minority party)

11 novembre, 2012
It could be the end of civilization as we know it” because “Bush’s next term is not four years. It is 30 years, based on its impact. Rochelle Riley (the Detroit Free Press)
Democrats were “ill-prepared for this new, faith-based world. Diane Winston (USC professor, the Baltimore Sun)
After three decades of cultural and religious struggle—including a fair amount of concerted, premeditated political exploitation—the religious right is more mainstream in America than once-mainline denominations. This election confirms the influence and clout of those described by scholars as the socially conservative, theologically evangelical. They are our friends and neighbors, and unlike 18-to-29-year-olds, they vote in big numbers. The Seattle Times
Maybe this is where America ends. .  .  . Small wonder that everywhere I go, people are talking about moving to Canada. That’s the kind of joke you make when you no longer recognize your country. Leonard Pitts
The day the Enlightenment went out. Garry Wills (the New York Times)
On Wednesday morning, Democrats across the country awoke to a situation they have not experienced since before the New Deal: We are now, without a doubt, America’s minority party. Andrei Cherny
Democrats still have no coherent framework for confronting this chronic complaint, much less understanding it. Instead, they “triangulate,” they accommodate, they declare themselves converts to the Republican religion of the market, they sign off on NAFTA and welfare reform, they try to be more hawkish than the Republican militarists. And they lose. And they lose again. Meanwhile, out in Red America, the right-wing populist revolt continues apace, its fury at the “liberal elite” undiminished by the Democrats’ conciliatory gestures or the passage of time. Thomas Frank
What troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don’t just favor different policies than I do—they favor a whole different kind of America. We don’t just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.Thomas Friedman
Four years later Jesusland elected the most liberal Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson while simultaneously handing his party control of both houses of Congress. Jonathan V. Last
This was a “values” election as strident as the ones from culture wars past in which Christians marched against subsidies for Mapplethorpe, creationists vied for seats on Kansas school boards, and William Bennett demanded to know where the outrage was. What was different about this year’s culture war is that Republicans lost it. They ran a campaign without any of the abrasive stuff Frank disapproved of. Their presidential candidate lost himself in theories about what motivates “job creators.” The Weekly standard

La fin de la civilisation telle que nous la connaissons ?

Alors qu’au lendemain de leur échec à la présidentielle, nombre de commentateurs conservateurs semblent quasiment prêts à prendre leur cigüe (merci james) …

Petite et salutaire remise en perspective, avec le Weekly standard, qui rappelle, au lendemain de la réélection de George Bush il y a huit ans, les quasi-cris de désespoir d’une gauche qui, avec son Père Noël noir,  a depuis a enchainé les deux victoires que nous savons …

The Lesson of 2004

Don’t immediately start looking for lessons.

Jonathan V. Last

The Weekly Standard

November 19, 2012

In many respects, the 2012 election played out as a close cousin of the 2004 contest. A vulnerable incumbent president in a bad political environment faced a weak challenger who lacked a core ideology and who articulated no clear vision for the country. In both campaigns the challenger chose to present himself as a default choice, rather than an insurgent. In both campaigns the president pursued a base-turnout strategy. And in both years the president won, by a margin of victory just around 2.4 percentage points.

The similarities continued following the elections. After Mitt Romney’s defeat, many Republicans and conserv-atives were caught surprised. In the days that followed there was fatalistic talk about how America had undergone a fundamental change. Some of this analysis centered on demographics. There was concern about a permanent shift in the racial composition of the electorate and about how changes in the institution of marriage—more divorce, more cohabitation, and later marriage—might be permanently increasing the pool of single voters. (The first worry seems mistaken: Romney’s main problem with white voters wasn’t that they were in decline—it was that so many of them didn’t show up for him. The second is more plausible.)

There was also a lot of talk about how Romney’s loss was a sign of a fundamental change in America’s character. People contended that this was no longer a “center-right” country. Or that the nation had turned its back on the free market. Or morphed into Greece. One of the more prominent lines of thinking was that the “takers” in America finally outnumbered the “makers” and that, per Ben Franklin’s warning, the electorate had entered a death spiral where it would continually vote itself more money. It all sounded eerily like Romney’s contention that 47 percent of the country isn’t responsible for itself and can no longer be persuaded by conservative argument. Doom to follow shortly.

The existential despair was familiar because liberals and Democrats said the same sorts of things immediately following the 2004 vote. Like Mitt Romney’s, John Kerry’s final polls before Election Day—not to mention the early exit polls on the day itself—suggested he had a reasonable chance of victory. So when defeat came, Democrats were both discouraged and shocked. And their first reaction was to conclude that America had changed in a fundamental way.

A week after the election, a group of African-American journalists gathered at Harvard to discuss the implications of Kerry’s loss. Summing up the meeting, the Detroit Free Press’s Rochelle Riley concluded that “it could be the end of civilization as we know it” because “Bush’s next term is not four years. It is 30 years, based on its impact.” In the Baltimore Sun, USC professor Diane Winston worried that Democrats were “ill-prepared for this new, faith-based world.” A Seattle Times columnist wrote, “after three decades of cultural and religious struggle—including a fair amount of concerted, premeditated political exploitation—the religious right is more mainstream in America than once-mainline denominations. This election confirms the influence and clout of those described by scholars as the socially conservative, theologically evangelical. They are our friends and neighbors, and unlike 18-to-29-year-olds, they vote in big numbers.” All of which led columnist Leonard Pitts to wonder, “Maybe this is where America ends. .  .  . Small wonder that everywhere I go, people are talking about moving to Canada. That’s the kind of joke you make when you no longer recognize your country.”

At the New York Times the hysteria was even more pronounced. Garry Wills called Kerry’s defeat “the day the Enlightenment went out.” Democratic operative Andrei Cherny wrote, “On Wednesday morning, Democrats across the country awoke to a situation they have not experienced since before the New Deal: We are now, without a doubt, America’s minority party.” Thomas Frank identified the Democrats’ problem as being one of perpetual weakness on the “values” subject:

Democrats still have no coherent framework for confronting this chronic complaint, much less understanding it. Instead, they “triangulate,” they accommodate, they declare themselves converts to the Republican religion of the market, they sign off on NAFTA and welfare reform, they try to be more hawkish than the Republican militarists. And they lose. And they lose again. Meanwhile, out in Red America, the right-wing populist revolt continues apace, its fury at the “liberal elite” undiminished by the Democrats’ conciliatory gestures or the passage of time.

Thomas Friedman swallowed hard and croaked that “what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don’t just favor different policies than I do—they favor a whole different kind of America. We don’t just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.”

This last bit of wisdom was distilled in an Internet meme known as “Jesusland.” The day after the election someone on a video-game message board posted a Photoshopped map of North America. Canada, America’s West Coast, and the northeast corridor were colored pink and labeled the “United States of Canada.” The remaining territory, colored green, was labeled “Jesus-land.” The map went on to wide acclaim and was featured on nearly every liberal blog and website in the land. There was a Jesusland book. The hipster songwriter Ben Folds wrote a song about it.

Four years later Jesusland elected the most liberal Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson while simultaneously handing his party control of both houses of Congress.

The point of all this isn’t to suggest that Republicans are on the cusp of a resurgence or to argue that all politics is cyclical. Both, or neither, of those things might be true. Rather, it’s a reminder that the future is uncertain. In 2004 Democrats believed that the culture of America had irrevocably changed. Then came the housing bubble, the financial collapse, and Barack Obama. Events happen, individuals matter, and the first lessons learned are rarely helpful. Or right.

Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

Voir aussi:

Le désastre Obama va s’accentuer considérablement

Guy Millière

Dreuz

11 novembre 2012

Je reviendrai dès mon retour en France sur les enjeux de ce qui vient de se produire aux Etats Unis. J’écoute et je lis les commentateurs conservateurs. Je les regarde à la télévision, et j’ai le sentiment que, à de rares exceptions près, ils ne prennent pas la mesure de la situation. Certains reprochent à Mitt Romney d’avoir été trop modéré, d’autres lui reprochent d’avoir pris comme candidat à la vice présidence un homme soutenu par les tea parties, Paul Ryan. Presque tous parlent de repartir au combat comme si nous étions dans les années 1960.

Je pense, avec le recul, qu’aucun candidat républicain n’aurait pu l’emporter.

Nous arrivons au bout de ce que Roger Kimball a appelé la « longue marche ». Une prise de pouvoir s’est opérée dans l’université, les médias, les secteurs culturels, et ceux qui ont pris le pouvoir viennent de ce que Norman Podhoretz a appelé la culture adverse (the adversary culture). Leur but était de détruire le capitalisme, la démocratie et les valeurs éthiques des Etats Unis, et ils y sont largement parvenus, en l’espace de deux générations. Les effets de la « longue marche » risquent fort d’être irrémédiables.

Je pense que les Etats Unis vont glisser vers un fonctionnement de parti unique à l’européenne, avec un parti démocrate toujours plus socialiste, et un parti républicain placé sous l’ombre portée du parti démocrate, et durablement minoritaire.

Je pense que le courant conservateur appartient au passé. Quand bien même il se battra encore. Les jeunes de moins de trente ans, les noirs, les hispaniques, se reconnaitront de moins en moins en lui. C’est d’ores et déjà le cas. Je crains, comme je l’ai déjà dit, qu’une page se tourne.

Je pense, et j y reviendrai, que nous entrons dans un monde post américain, post occidental, post démocratique et post capitaliste.

Je pense que les civilisations sont mortelles, et que la civilisation occidentale est en train de glisser vers son crépuscule.

Inscrivez-vous à notre newsletter pour recevoir les nouveaux articles de Dreuz une fois par jour.

L’Europe est morte déjà depuis longtemps, même si nombre d’Européens ne s’en aperçoivent pas. La croissance est nulle. Les pauvres se multiplient. La natalité est en chute libre dans tous les pays du continent, a l’exception de la France, qui compte la plus forte proportion de musulmans. L’Europe n’a plus les moyens ou la volonté de se défendre et elle est en situation de soumission préventive.

Les Etats Unis sont en train de glisser vers leur propre mort. Et une majorité d’Américains ne s’en aperçoit pas.

La croissance aux Etats Unis est quasiment nulle. Les déficits sont abyssaux. Les pauvres se multiplient. La natalité se maintient, mais le poids des minorités, particulièrement celui de la minorité hispanique s’accentue. Les Etats Unis risquent fort de n’avoir bientôt plus les moyens de se défendre, et ils se rapprochent de la soumission préventive.

Comme l’a écrit Mark Steyn dans son dernier livre (after America), la démocratie est un système très optimal, jusqu’au moment où des gens la transforment en un distributeur automatique de billets et en un moyen d’assouvir leurs lubies idéologiques, en transformant une majorité de la population en idiots utiles. La transformation est accomplie depuis longtemps en Europe. Elle est désormais accomplie aux Etats Unis.

Nul ne peut dire aujourd’hui ce qui viendra après la civilisation occidentale. Lorsque l’empire romain s’est effondré sous la poussée des barbares et sous le poids de son propre affaissement, plusieurs siècles de chaos ont suivi.

Depuis des siècles, la production et la création se heurtent aux forces de la prédation et de la stérilisation. La production et la création l’emportent toujours dans le moyen terme, mais il arrive que dans le court terme, la prédation et la stérilisation triomphent. Je crains fort que nous ne soyons dans un court terme de ce type.

Faut-il renoncer en ces conditions ? Faut-il se dire qu’il reste à vivre sa vie, sans plus ? Disons qu’il faut ne pas se bercer d’illusions. Disons qu’il importe, au moins, de comprendre et de ne pas vivre dans la cécité.

Je vais m’employer, dans les semaines qui viennent, à tenter de donner les moyens de comprendre.

Le désastre Obama ne fait que commencer, oui. Il va s’accentuer. La victoire d’Obama montre en elle même que le désastre est déjà immense. Et je dirai à ceux qui sous entendraient qu’Obama doit avoir bien des qualités pour avoir été réélu, que Hugo Chavez a été réélu au Venezuela, et que Hitler a lui même été élu en 1933. Je sais : il existe des gens pour penser que Chavez est un homme de qualité. Et il existait en 1933 des gens pour dire qu’Adolf Hitler était lui-même un homme de qualité.

Je dirai à ceux qui me jugent sévère avec Obama que si celui-ci est le fruit amer de quatre décennies de destruction, il est le catalyseur d’une accélération de la destruction, et il l’est très volontairement, disciple de Franz Fanon et de Saul Alinsky.


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Mais qui a encore besoin d’électeurs quand on a Nate Silver? (Did Voter of the year Nate Silver help Obama’s reelection?)

11 novembre, 2012
Soudain, Norman se sentit fier. Tout s’imposait à lui, avec force. Il était fier. Dans ce monde imparfait, les citoyens souverains de la première et de la plus grande Démocratie Electronique avaient, par l’intermédiaire de Norman Muller (par lui), exercé une fois de plus leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote. Le Votant (Isaac Asimov, 1955)
Le fait même de poser une question peut inventer un résultat car elle fait appel à l’imaginaire du sondé qui n’y avait pas encore réfléchi. Alain Garrigou
D’après les journaux, les sondages montrent que la plupart des gens croient les journaux qui déclarent que la plupart des gens croient les sondages qui montrent que la plupart des gens ont lu les journaux qui conviennent que les sondages montrent qu’il va gagner. Mark Steyn
Le premier ordinateur est livré à l’United States Census Bureau le 30 mars 1951 et mis en service le 14 juin. Le cinquième (construit pour l’Atomic Energy Commission) a été utilisé par CBS pour prédire l’issue de l’élection présidentielle de 1952 (alors que les sondages réalisés "humainement" donnaient Eisenhower perdant). À partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent des votants il prédit qu’Eisenhower aurait été élu président, chose que personne n’aurait pu croire, mais UNIVAC avait vu juste. Wikipedia
UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close. CNN
What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do. Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration. The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic. The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing. Ivan Kenneally

Attention: un bruit peut en cacher un autre !

Mais qui parlera de l’influence médiatique et donc proprement électorale de nos Nate Silver?

Alors qu’au lendemain de la relativement courte réélection du Père Noël de Chicago, où, entre la désaffection apparemment inattendue d’une partie d’électeurs républicains et d’hispaniques et sans compter la "surprise d’octobre" de l’ouragan Sandy, les Américains ont "une fois de plus exercé leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote", la planète progressiste se félicite de la leçon que viennent d’asséner aux sondeurs et stratèges du GOP les ordinateurs du petit génie de la statistique Nate Silver et son blog du NYT (comme d’ailleurs ceux de Sam Wang ou d’Intrade) …

Comment ne pas repenser (merci Dr Goulu) à cette nouvelle de politique-fiction de 1955 d’Isaac Asimov ("Franchise", "droit de vote" mais traduit par "Le Votant" en français) sur la "démocratie électronique" dans laquelle les États-Unis de 2008 (première année du premier succès de Nate!) se sont déchargés du devoir électoral sur un ordinateur géant (MULTIVAC) permettant de réduire toute la consultation électorale au questionnaire d’un seul électeur, simple employé de magasin de son état?

Mais aussi à l’histoire réelle qui l’avait inspirée, à savoir la prédiction il y a exactement 60 ans par le premier superordinateur (UNIVAC I) qu’avait livré la firme Remington Rand au Bureau du recensement américain et qui, à partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent de la population et contre les sondages humains, avait prédit pour CBS le succès du républicain Eisenhower contre le démocrate Stevenson?

Information que CBS avait d’ailleurs, contrairement au NYT de 2012, gardé cachée pour ne pas interférer dans une élection elle aussi annoncée très serrée ?

5 leçons scientifiques du succès de Nate Silver

Tom Roud

Café sciences

Le 07/11/2012

La communauté scientifico-geek s’est trouvée un nouveau héros au cours de cette élection présidentielle américaine: Nate Silver, l’auteur du formidable blog 538, qui, à l’heure où je vous parle, a fait un sans faute au niveau de la prédiction des résultats état par état (la Floride restant indéterminée, ce qu’il avait d’ailleurs aussi prévu).

On peut tirer 5 leçons de ce succès de Silver:

ce n’est pas la première fois que Silver réussit à prédire le résultat d’une élection présidentielle état par état. C’est en réalité la seconde fois après 2008. On dit parfois en science qu’un seul résultat spectaculaire ne vaut rien sans sa confirmation, l’élection de 2012 confirme à mon sens qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un coup de chance, et donc que ses modèles sont capables de correctement capturer une réalité.

pour qu’un modèle marche, il faut se baser sur des données multiples, bonnes et moins bonnes. Dans le cas présent, tous les sondages accumulés. Le modèle de Silver pondère parfaitement tous ces sondages, et surtout permet de nuancer tous les « outliers ». Par exemple, le 18 Octobre, un sondage Gallup très commenté politiquement donnait Romney 7 points devant Obama. Silver a tout de suite dit qu’il s’agissait de bruit (« polls that look like outliers normally prove to be so »). Une approche raisonnée identifie les tendances, là où le commentaire politique se focalise sur le bruit.

Inspiré de http://xkcd.com/904. Oui, je sais, c’est du Comic Sans.

un modèle hyper simple peut pourtant être étonnamment prédictif. Les modèles de Silver reposent sur l’idée que les populations socio-économiquement similaires votent de la même façon. En couplant cette idée avec les données de la démographie et les sondages disponibles, Silver a pu « projeter » les résultats des états même en l’absence de sondage sur ceux-ci. Comme disait quelqu’un sur ma TL ce matin, le modèle tient sur une feuille Excel. Les modèles les plus simples ne sont donc pas les moins efficaces, un principe de parcimonie scientifique souvent absent de nombreuses modélisations (oui, je pense à toi, « systems biology »)

le corollaire, c’est qu’un système complexe est modélisable tant qu’on identifie correctement des « causes premières ». Nul ne peut contester que les déterminants du vote sont multiples, et que la nature humaine est complexe; pourtant, le modèle de Silver prouve qu’ on peut manifestement arriver à comprendre et prédire relativement finement des comportements. Une leçon à retenir à chaque fois qu’on vous dira que nul ne peut modéliser un système complexe multifactoriels (comme au hasard le climat)

enfin, la science, ce sont des prédictions. Silver s’est mouillé (allant jusque parier avec un éditorialiste critiquant son modèle), a été critiqué pour cela y compris dans son propre journal. C’est la grosse différence entre une approche quantitative et le reste: on sort des prédictions, on les valide ou on les réfute, et on améliore ainsi le modèle au cours du temps. Processus totalement inconnu des nombreux éditorialistes.

Grâce soit donc rendue au premier psychohistorien !

Voir aussi:

US elections 2012

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – review

Nate Silver made headlines predicting Obama’s win. Ruth Scurr learns how he did it

Ruth Scurr

The Guardian

9 November 2012

Obama aside, the indubitable hero of the 2012 US presidential election was the statistician and political forecaster Nate Silver. His blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, syndicated by the New York Times since 2010, correctly predicted the results of the election in 50 out of 50 states. When the worldwide media was universally proclaiming the race too close to call and the pundits were deriding mathematical models, FiveThirtyEight.com steadily argued that the odds made clear that Obama would win. On election day, Silver’s final forecast was that Obama had a 90.9% chance of winning.

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

Nate Silver

the Guardian

Reflecting on the electoral impact of Hurricane Sandy, Silver was the voice of sanity in the last few days of the race. On 5 November he suggested that "historical memory" might consider Sandy pivotal, but in fact Obama had been rebounding slowly but surely in the polls since his lows in early October. Listing eight alternative explanations for Obama’s gains after the storm hit – including recent encouraging economic news – Silver concluded that the gains were "over-determined": a lot of variables might have contributed to the one result.

As the votes were counted and the states declared themselves, vindicating the FiveThirtyEight.com predictions in every single case, Silver’s newly published book became an overnight bestseller.

The first thing to note about The Signal and the Noise is that it is modest – not lacking in confidence or pointlessly self-effacing, but calm and honest about the limits to what the author or anyone else can know about what is going to happen next. Across a wide range of subjects about which people make professional predictions – the housing market, the stock market, elections, baseball, the weather, earthquakes, terrorist attacks – Silver argues for a sharper recognition of "the difference between what we know and what we think we know" and recommends a strategy for closing the gap.

Recognition of the gap is not new: there are plenty of political theorists and scientists droning on about it already, in the manner of the automated voice on the tube when train and platform don’t quite meet. Strategies for closing, or at least narrowing, the gap between what we know and what we think we know in specific contexts, are rarer, specialised, and probably pretty hard for anyone outside a small circle of experts to understand.

What Silver has to offer is a lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically. In a promising start, he claims that his model – based on a theorem inspired by Thomas Bayes, the 18th-century English mathematician – has more in common with how soldiers and doctors think than with the cognitive habits of TV pundits. "Much of the most thoughtful work I have found on the use and abuse of statistical models, and on the proper role of prediction, comes from people in the medical profession," Silver reports. You can quite easily get away with a stupid model if you are a political scientist, but in medicine as in war, "stupid models kill people. It has a sobering effect".

Silver is not a medical doctor, even if a version of the Hippocratic oath – Primum non nocere (First, do no harm) – is the guiding principle of his probabilistic thinking: "If you can’t make a good prediction, it is very often harmful to pretend that you can." After graduating from Chicago with a degree in economics in 2000, he worked as a transfer-pricing consultant for the accounting firm KPMG: "The pay was honest and I felt secure," but he soon became bored. In his spare time, on long flights and in airports, he started compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics that later became the basis for a predictive system called Pecota.

Silver delivers a candid account of the hits and misses of Pecota, the lessons learned and the system’s limitations: "It’s hard to have an idea that nobody else has thought of. It’s even harder to have a good idea – and when you do, it will soon be duplicated."

After his interest in baseball peaked, he moved on to predicting electoral politics. The idea for FiveThirtyEight (named after the 538 votes in the electoral college) arrived while Silver was waiting for a delayed flight at New Orleans airport in 2008. Initially, he made predictions about the electoral winners simply by taking an average of the polls after weighting them according to past accuracy. The model gradually became more intricate: his method centres on crunching the data from as many previous examples as possible; imagine a really enormous spreadsheet. He accurately forecast the outcome of 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election and the winner of all 35 senate races.

Challenged by the economist Justin Wolfers and his star student David Rothschild as to why he continues to make forecasts through FiveThirtyEight despite fierce competition from larger prediction websites such as Intrade (which covers "everything from who will win the Academy Award for Best Picture to the chance of an Israeli air strike on Iran") Silver replies: "I find making the forecasts intellectually interesting – and they help to produce traffic for my blog." His unabashed honesty seems the open secret of his success.

Bayes, who lends his name to Silver’s theorem, was "probably born in 1701 – although it might have been 1702". Silver is a statistician, not a historian, so he reports the fact of the uncertainty without elaboration. As a Nonconformist, Bayes could not go to Oxford or Cambridge, but was eventually elected a fellow of the Royal Society. His most famous work, "An Essay toward Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances", was published posthumously in 1763. Silver summarises it as: "a statement – expressed both mathematically and philosophically – about how we learn about the universe: that we learn about it through approximation, getting closer and closer to the truth as we gather more evidence."

The attraction of Bayes’s theorem, as Silver presents it, is that it concerns conditional probability: the probability that a theory or hypothesis is true if some event has happened. He applies the theorem to 9/11. Prior to the first plane striking the twin towers, the initial estimate of how likely it was that terrorists would crash planes into Manhattan skyscrapers is given as 0.005%. After the first plane hit, the revised probability of a terror attack comes out at 38%. Following the second plane hitting the revised estimate that it was a deliberate act jumps to 99.99%. "One accident on a bright sunny day in New York was unlikely enough, but a second one was almost a literal impossibility, as we all horribly deduced."

Fastidiously aware of the gap between what we know and what we think we know, Silver proceeds wryly to delineate the limits of what he has achieved with this application of Bayes theorem to 9/11: "It’s not that much of an accomplishment, however, to describe history in statistical terms."

Silver ends by advocating a balance between curiosity and scepticism when it comes to making predictions: "The more eagerly we commit to scrutinising and testing our theories, the more readily we accept that our knowledge of the world is uncertain, the more willingly we acknowledge that perfect prediction is impossible, the less we will live in fear of our failures, and the more freedom we will have to let our minds flow freely. By knowing more about what we don’t know, we may get a few more predictions right."

More modesty and effort, in other words, would improve the predictive performance of everyone from the TV pundits to the political scientists, and members of the public trying to understand what is likely to happen next. Just do not expect, Silver warns, to fit a decent prediction on a bumper sticker. "Prediction is difficult for us for the same reason that it is so important: it is where objective and subjective reality intersect." You would probably need to be a stat geek to drive around with that on the back of your car, but it might just fit if the lettering were small.

• Ruth Scurr’s Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution is published by Vintage.

 Voir également:

FiveThirtyEight – Nate Silver\’s Political Calculus

Methodology

Our Senate forecasts proceed in seven distinct stages, each of which is described in detail below. For more detail on some of the terms below please see our FiveThirtyEight glossary.

Stage 1. Weighted Polling Average

Polls released into the public domain are collected together and averaged, with the components weighted on three factors:

* Recency. More recent polls receive a higher weight. The formula for discounting older polling is based on an exponential decay formula, with the premium on newness increasing the closer the forecast is made to the election. In addition, when the same polling firm has released multiple polls of a particular race, polls other than its most recent one receive an additional discount. (We do not, however, simply discard an older poll simply because a firm has come out with a newer one in the same race.)

* Sample size. Polls with larger sample sizes receive higher weights. (Note: no sample size can make up for poor methodology. Our model accounts for diminishing returns as sample size increases, especially for less reliable pollsters.)

* Pollster rating. Lastly, each survey is rated based on the past accuracy of “horse race” polls commissioned by the polling firm in elections from 1998 to the present. The procedure for calculating the pollster ratings is described at length here, and the most recent set of pollster ratings can be found here. All else being equal, polling organizations that, like The New York Times, have staff that belong to The American Association for Public Opinion Research (A.A.P.O.R.), or that have committed to the disclosure and transparency standards advanced by the National Council on Public Polls, receive higher ratings, as we have found that membership in one of these organizations is a positive predictor of the accuracy of a firm’s polling on a going-forward basis

The procedure for combining these three factors is modestly complex, and is described in more detail here. But, in general, the weight assigned to a poll is designed to be proportional to the predictive power that it should have in anticipating the results of upcoming elections. Note that it is quite common for a particular survey from a mediocre pollster to receive a higher weight than one from a strong pollster, if its poll happens to be significantly more recent or if it uses a significantly larger sample size.

Certain types of polls are not assigned a weight at all, but are instead dropped from consideration entirely, and not used in FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts nor listed in its polling database. from the firms Strategic Vision and Research 2000, which have been accused – with compelling statistical evidence in each case – of having fabricated some or all of their polling, are excluded. So are interactive (Internet) polls conducted by the firm Zogby, which are associated with by far the worst pollster rating, and which probably should not be considered scientific polls, as their sample consists of volunteers who sign up to take their polls, rather than a randomly-derived sample. (Traditional telephone polls conducted by Zogby are included in the averages, as are Internet polls from firms other than Zogby.)

Polls are also excluded from the Senate model if they are deemed to meet FiveThirtyEight’s definition of being “partisan.” FiveThirtyEight’s definition of a partisan poll is quite narrow, and is limited to polls conducted on behalf of political candidates, campaign committees, political parties, registered PACs, or registered 527 groups. We do not exclude polls simply because the pollster happens to be a Democrat or a Republican, because the pollster has conducted polling for Democratic or Republican candidate in the past, or because the media organization it is polling for is deemed to be liberal or conservative. The designation is based on who the poll was conducted for, and not who conducted it. Note, however, that there are other protections in place (see Stage 2) if a polling firm produces consistently biased results.

Stage 2. Adjusted Polling Average

After the weighted polling average is calculated, it is subject to three additional types of adjustments.

* The trendline adjustment. An estimate of the overall momentum in the national political environment is determined based on a detailed evaluation of trends within generic congressional ballot polling. (The procedure, which was adopted from our Presidential forecasting model, is described at more length here.) The idea behind the adjustment is that, to the extent that out-of-date polls are used at all in the model (because of a lack of more recent polling, for example), we do not simply assume that they reflect the present state of the race. For example, if the Democrats have lost 5 points on the generic ballot since the last time a state was polled, the model assumes, in the absence of other evidence, that they have lost 5 points in that state as well. In practice, the trendline adjustment is designed to be fairly gentle, and so it has relatively little effect unless there has been especially sharp change in the national environment or if the polling in a particular state is especially out-of-date.

* The house effects adjustment. Sometimes, polls from a particular polling firm tend consistently to be more favorable toward one or the other political party. Polls from the firm Rasmussen Reports, for example, have shown results that are about 2 points more favorable to the Republican candidate than average during this election cycle. It is not necessarily correct to equate a house effect with “bias” – there have been certain past elections in which pollsters with large house effects proved to be more accurate than pollsters without them – and systematic differences in polling may result from a whole host of methodological factors unrelated to political bias. This nevertheless may be quite useful to account for: Rasmussen showing a Republican with a 1-point lead in a particular state might be equivalent to a Democratic-leaning pollster showing a 4-point lead for the Democrat in the same state. The procedure for calculating the house effects adjustment is described in more detail here. A key aspect of the house effects adjustment is that a firm is not rewarded by the model simply because it happens to produce more polling than others; the adjustment is calibrated based on what the highest-quality polling firms are saying about the race.

* The likely voter adjustment. Throughout the course of an election year, polls may be conducted among a variety of population samples. Some survey all American adults, some survey only registered voters, and others are based on responses from respondents deemed to be “likely voters,” as determined based on past voting behavior or present voting intentions. Sometimes, there are predictable differences between likely voter and registered voter polls. In 2010, for instance, polls of likely voters are about 4 points more favorable to the Republican candidate, on average, than those of registered voters, perhaps reflecting enthusiasm among Republican voters. And surveys conducted among likely voters are about 7 points more favorable to the Republican than those conducted among all adults, whether registered to vote or not.

By the end of the election cycle, the majority of pollsters employ a likely voter model of some kind. Additionally, there is evidence that likely voter polls are more accurate, especially in Congressional elections. Therefore, polls of registered voters (or adults) are adjusted to be equivalent to likely voter polls; the magnitude of the adjustment is based on a regression analysis of the differences between registered voter polls and likely voter polls throughout the polling database, holding other factors like the identity of the pollster constant.

Step 3: FiveThirtyEight Regression

In spite of the several steps that we undertake to improve the reliability of the polling data, sometimes there just isn’t very much good polling in a race, or all of the polling may tend to be biased in one direction or another. (As often as not, when one poll winds up on the wrong side of a race, so do most of the others). In addition, we have found that electoral forecasts can be improved when polling is supplemented by other types of information about the candidates and the contest. Therefore, we augment the polling average by using a linear regression analysis that attempts to predict the candidates’ standing according to several non-poll factors:

A state’s Partisan Voting Index

The composition of party identification in the state’s electorate (as determined through Gallup polling)

The sum of individual contributions received by each candidate as of the last F.E.C. reporting period (this variable is omitted if one or both candidates are new to the race and have yet to complete an FEC filing period)

Incumbency status

For incumbent Senators, an average of recent approval and favorability ratings

A variable representing stature, based on the highest elected office that the candidate has held. It takes on the value of 3 for candidates who have been Senators or Governors in the past; 2 for U.S. Representatives, statewide officeholders like Attorneys General, and mayors of cities of at least 300,000 persons; 1 for state senators, state representatives, and other material elected officeholders (like county commissioners or mayors of small cities), and 0 for candidates who have not held a material elected office before.

Variables are dropped from the analysis if they are not statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence threshold.

Step 4: FiveThirtyEight Snapshot

This is the most straightforward step: the adjusted polling average and the regression are combined into a ‘snapshot’ that provides the most comprehensive evaluation of the candidates’ electoral standing at the present time. This is accomplished by treating the regression result as though it were a poll: in fact, it is assigned a poll weight equal to a poll of average quality (typically around 0.60) and re-combined with the other polls of the state.

If there are several good polls in race, the regression result will be just one of many such “polls”, and will have relatively little impact on the forecast. But in cases where there are just one or two polls, it can be more influential. The regression analysis can also be used to provide a crude forecast of races in which there is no polling at all, although with a high margin of error.

Step 5. Election Day projection

It is not necessarily the case, however, that the current standing of the candidates – as captured by the snapshot — represents the most accurate forecast of where they will finish on Election Day. (This is one of the areas in which we’ve done a significant amount of work in transitioning FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model to The Times.) For instance, large polling leads have a systematic tendency to diminish in races with a large number of undecided voters, especially early in an election cycle. A lead of 48 percent to 25 percent with a high number of undecided voters, for example, will more often than not decrease as Election Day approaches. Under other circumstances (such an incumbent who is leading a race in which there are few undecided voters), a candidate’s lead might actually be expected to expand slightly.

Separate equations are used for incumbent and open-seat races, the formula for the former being somewhat more aggressive. There are certain circumstances in which an incumbent might actually be a slight underdog to retain a seat despite of having a narrow polling lead — for instance, if there are a large number of undecided voters — although this tendency can sometimes be overstated.

Implicit in this process is distributing the undecided vote; thus, the combined result for the Democratic and the Republican candidate will usually reflect close to 100 percent of the vote, although a small reservoir is reserved for independent candidates in races where they are on the ballot. In races featuring three or more viable candidates (that is, three candidates with a tangible chance of winning the lection), however, such as the Florida Senate election in 2010, there is little empirical basis on which to make a “creative” vote allocation, and so the undecided voters are simply divided evenly among the three candidates.

Step 6. Error analysis

Just as important as estimating the most likely finish of the two candidates is determining the degree of uncertainty intrinsic to the forecast.

For a variety of reasons, the magnitude of error associated with elections outcomes is higher than what pollsters usually report. For instance, in polls of Senate elections since 1998 conducted in the final three weeks of the campaign, the average error in predicting the margin between the two candidates has been about 5 points, which would translate into a roughly 6-point margin of error. This may be twice as high as the 3- or 4-percent margins of error that pollsters typically report, which reflects only sample variance, but not other ambiguities inherent to polling. Combining polls together may diminish this margin of error, but their errors are sometimes correlated, and they are nevertheless not as accurate as their margins-of-error would imply.

Instead of relying on any sort of theoretical calculation of the margin of error, therefore, we instead model it directly based on the past performance of our forecasting model in Senatorial elections since 1998. Our analysis has found that certain factors are predictably associated with a greater degree of uncertainty. For instance:

The error is higher in races with fewer polls

The error is higher in races where the polls disagree with one another.

The error is higher when there are a larger number of undecided voters.

The error is higher when the margin between the two candidates is lopsided.

The error is higher the further one is from Election Day.

Depending on the mixture of these circumstances, a lead that is quite safe under certain conditions may be quite vulnerable in others. Our goal is simply to model the error explicitly, rather than to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step 7. Simulation.

Knowing the mean forecast for the margin between the two candidates, and the standard error associated with it, suffices mathematically to provide a probabilistic assessment of the outcome of any one given race. For instance, a candidate with a 7-point lead, in a race where the standard error on the forecast estimate is 5 points, will win her race 92 percent of the time.

However, this is not the only piece of information that we are interested in. Instead, we might want to know how the results of particular Senate contests are related to one another, in order to determine for example the likelihood of a party gaining a majority, or a supermajority.

Therefore, the error associated with a forecast is decomposed into local and national components by means of a sum-of-squares formula. For Congressional elections, the ‘national’ component of the error is derived from a historical analysis of generic ballot polls: how accurately the generic ballot forecasts election outcomes, and how much the generic ballot changes between Election Day and the period before Election Day. The local component of the error is then assumed to be the residual of the national error from the sum-of-squares formula, i.e.:

The local and national components of the error calculation are then randomly generated (according to a normal distribution) over the course of 100,000 simulation runs. In each simulation run, the degree of national movement is assumed to be the same for all candidates: for instance, all the Republican candidates might receive a 3-point bonus in one simulation, or all the Democrats a 4-point bonus in another. The local error component, meanwhile, is calculated separately for each individual candidate or state. In this way, we avoid the misleading assumption that the results of each election are uncorrelated with one another.

A final step in calculating the error is in randomly assigning a small percentage of the vote to minor-party candidates, which is assumed to follow a gamma distribution.

A separate process is followed where three or more candidates are deemed by FiveThirtyEight to be viable in a particular race, which simulates exchanges of voting preferences between each pairing of candidates. This process is structured such that the margins of error associated with multi-candidate races are assumed to be quite high, as there is evidence that such races are quite volatile.

Voir encore:

50th anniversary of the UNIVAC I

CNN

BLUE BELL, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Fifty years ago — on June 14, 1951 — the U.S. Census Bureau officially put into service what it calls the world’s first commercial computer, known as UNIVAC I.

UNIVAC stands for Universal Automatic Computer. The first model was built by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp., which was purchased by Remington Rand shortly before the UNIVAC went on sale.

Rights to the UNIVAC name are currently held by Unisys.

Unisys spokesmen Guy Isnous and Ron Smith say other early users of UNIVACs included the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the Atomic Energy Commission, General Electric, Metropolitan Life, US Steel, and DuPont.

The UNIVAC was not the first computer ever built. A host of companies, including Eckert-Mauchly, Remington Rand, IBM, and others, all were developing computers for commercial applications at the same time.

Perhaps the most famous computer of the era was the ENIAC, a computer developed for the U.S. military during World War II. Other computers developed in the 1940s were mostly used by academia.

But the UNIVAC I was the first computer to be widely used for commercial purposes — 46 machines were built, for about $1 million each.

Compared to other computers of the era, the UNIVAC I machines were small — about the size of a one-car garage. Each contained about 5,000 vacuum tubes, all of which had to be easily accessible for replacement because they burned out frequently.

Keeping all those vacuum tubes cool was also a major design challenge. The machines were riddled with pipes that circulated cold water to keep the temperature down.

Each unit was so bulky and needed so much maintenance that some of the companies that bought them never moved them to their own facility, instead leaving them on-site at Remington Rand.

UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close.

Voir enfin:

Polling Opinion: More Sorcery Than Science

Ivan Kenneally

November 5, 2012

At first glance, political opinion polls seems like the nadir of modern liberal democracy. In their special alchemy they congeal a sensitivity to the will of the people and an emphasis on mathematical exactitude. The poll is the culmination of the peculiar modern marriage of science and popular sovereignty, the technocratic and the democratic. To borrow from Hamilton, and by borrow I mean disfigure, the poll is the ultimate success of our “grand experiment in self-governance.”

Of course, on another interpretation, they are completely useless.

As the estimable Jay Cost points out in the Weekly Standard, the polls this year simply don’t seem to add up, collectively defeated by the strident arithmetic that underwrites their purported value. Depending on what pollster you ask, Romney is poised for an explosive landslide of a victory, or about to win a historically close election, or is about to lose decisively, in a fit of humiliation. If you ask Paul Krugman, and I don’t advise that you should unless you’ve been inoculated against shrill, he will call you stupid for suggesting Romney has any chance at victory.

What all these positions have in common is an appeal to the unassailability of mathematics, that last frontier that resists our postmodern inclinations to promiscuously construct and deconstruct the truth like a pile of lego pieces.

What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do.

Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration.

The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic.

The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing.

So the mathematical scaffolding of polls all presume non-mathematical foundations, stated and unstated assumptions, partisan inclinations and non-partisan miscalculations. When the vertiginous maelstrom of numbers fails in its most fundamental task, alighting disorder with order, bringing sense to a wilderness of senselessness, then where can we turn for guidance? I can’t just wait for the results Tuesday night–the modern in my marrow craves not just certainty but prediction, absolute knowledge as prologue. There’s no technocratic frisson in finding anything out after the fact, without the prescience of science, which appeals just as much to our desire to be clever as it does to our craving for knowledge.

I will suggest what no political scientist in America is suggesting: set aside the numbing numbers and the conflicting claims to polling precision and follow me follow Aristotle. We must survey what is available to us in ordinary experience, what we can confirm as a matter of pre-scientific perception, the ancient realism that appealed not to computational models, but the evidence I can see with my own eyes.

What do I see with these eyes? A president running as a challenger, pretending he wasn’t in charge the last four years of blight and disappointment. I see a less than commanding Commander in Chief trying to slither past a gathering scandal that calls into suspicion his character and competence to protect his country. I see a wheezing economy, so infirm our president celebrated a palsied jobs report as evidence of our march to prosperity. I see transparent class warfare that insidiously assumes our embattled middle class resents the rich more than they resent their own shrinking economic opportunity and that women feel flattered and emboldened when condescendingly drawn into a magically conjured cultural war.

I see enthusiastic crowds form around the man they think will deliver them from four years of gruesome ineffectiveness and a defeated left, dispirited and weary, unlikely to convert but less likely to surge. I see ads about Big Bird and and a terror of confronting big issues and a president who seems as bored by his performance as we are. Obama does not look like a winner, not to these eyes.

So in an election year hyper-charged with ideological heat, and polling data potentially varnished by self-fulfilling prophecy and partisan wishful thinking, I tend to rely upon an old school conception of realism: what I can see and what I can modestly infer from what I see. Today, as I write this, I see a Romney victory, however narrowly achieved. This would also be a big victory for the common sense of ordinary political perception over the tortured numbers games that aim to capture it precisely, or to mold it presumptuously.


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Le parti républicain est devenu le parti des mariés et des religieux (Do marriage and religion help you stay Republican and privileged?)

10 novembre, 2012

Le mariage. Qui s’y intéressait avant que quelques militants ne lancent sur ce plateau déserté celui des homosexuels? Pas grand monde, et j’ai entendu dire, seuls quelques curés et quelques homosexuels. Les rares, sensibles au fait de se trouver exclus de cette institution. Les rares à souhaiter partager le carcan béni des hétéros, leur haire d’amour et leur discipline de couple! (…) Confondre l’égalité des droits des individus avec l’indifférenciation des sexes ne peut que rendre le sujet victime d’une privation : celle d’une complémentarité structurante, à savoir celle d’être né d’un père et d’une mère. Pas grave, me direz-vous, c’est la source de tant de problèmes! Alors, enfin soulagé avec les parents, P1, P2 ! Marc Knecht
A majority of Americans continue to oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Just over half (53%) oppose same-sex marriage, while 39% support it. The issue cuts along demographic, political and religious lines. Older Americans are far less supportive than young people (a 58%-majority of those ages 18-29 support gay marriage). Blacks are less supportive than are whites and Hispanics (26%, 39% and 45% respectively). Women are more supportive than men. Those with college education are more supportive than those without. Southerners and Midwesterners are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than are those in the East and West. But religion and politics provide the starkest differences. While 72% of liberal Democrats support same-sex marriage, an equally overwhelming 81% of conservative Republicans oppose it. And while a majority of those who never or seldom attend religious services are pro gay marriage (54%), less than a quarter of those that attend regularly (22%) support it. Pew (2009)
Half of Latinos now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while one-third are opposed. As recently as 2006, these figures were reversed (56% of Latinos opposed same-sex marriage, while 31% supported it). Latino evangelicals, however, remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage (66% opposed vs. 25% in favor). Pew (2012)
One of the stark lessons of Obama’s victory is the degree to which. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you’d need a word that means something much bigger than landslide. Obviously, Obama got some votes from the married and the religious (such people can marry their interests to the state, too), but as a generalization, the Obama coalition heavily depends on people who do not see family or religion as rival or superior sources of material aid or moral authority. Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married, though, which is a big reason why they’re well-off. (…) Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that. Jonah Goldberg
A strong reason for that support for big government is that so many Hispanics use government programs. U.S.-born Hispanic households in California use welfare programs at twice the rate of native-born non-Hispanic households. And that is because nearly one-quarter of all Hispanics are poor in California, compared to a little over one-tenth of non-Hispanics. Nearly seven in ten poor children in the state are Hispanic, and one in three Hispanic children is poor, compared to less than one in six non-Hispanic children. One can see that disparity in classrooms across the state, which are chock full of social workers and teachers’ aides trying to boost Hispanic educational performance. The idea of the “social issues” Hispanic voter is also a mirage. A majority of Hispanics (52%) now support gay marriage, a Pew Research Center poll from last month found. The Hispanic out-of-wedlock birth rate is 53 percent, about twice that of whites. Heather MacDonald
It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged. Andrew Cherlin (Johns Hopkins)
The people who need to stick together for economic reasons don’t. And the people who least need to stick together do. Christopher Jencks (Harvard)
Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time. By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man. The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers. The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go. I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances. Sara McLanahan (Princeton)
Changes in family structure do not explain the gains of the very rich — the much-discussed “1 percent” and the richest among them. That story largely spills from Wall Street trading floors and corporate boardrooms. But for inequality more broadly, Mr. Western found that the growth in single parenthood in recent decades accounted for 15 percent to 25 percent of the widening income gaps. (Estimates depend on the time period, the income tiers and the definition of inequality.) Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution found it to account for 21 percent. Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute, comparing lower-middle- and upper-middle-income families, found that single parenthood explained about 40 percent of inequality’s growth. “That’s not peanuts,” he said. Across Middle America, single motherhood has moved from an anomaly to a norm with head-turning speed. (…) As recently as 1990, just 10 percent of the births to women like Ms. Schairer (white women with some postsecondary schooling but not a full college degree) occurred outside marriage, according to Child Trends. Now it has tripled to 30 percent, compared with just 8 percent for women of all races with college degrees. (…) Researchers have found that extracurricular activities can enhance academic performance, and scholars cite a growing activities gap to help explain why affluent children tend to do so much better than others in school. Four decades ago, families in the top income fifth spent about four times as much as those at the bottom fifth on things like sports, music and private schools, according to research by Greg J. Duncan of the University of California, Irvine, and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard. Now affluent families spend seven times as much. (…) While many studies have found that children of single parents are more likely to grow up poor, less is known about their chances of advancement as adults. But there are suggestions that the absence of a father in the house makes it harder for children to climb the economic ladder. The NYT

Ah! C’était donc pour ça que les homos étaient si obsédés par le mariage  …

Au lendemain d’une élection qui a confirmé à quel point le parti républicain était devenu le parti des mariés et des religieux …

Et en ces temps étranges où ceux qui en auraient le plus besoin n’en veulent plus …

Pendant que  ceux qui en auraient le moins besoin continuent à le choisir …

Confirmation de la sociologie sur le lien apparemment important entre mariage et privilège …

Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’

Jason DeParle

The New York Times

July 14, 2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jessica Schairer has so much in common with her boss, Chris Faulkner, that a visitor to the day care center they run might get them confused.

They are both friendly white women from modest Midwestern backgrounds who left for college with conventional hopes of marriage, motherhood and career. They both have children in elementary school. They pass their days in similar ways: juggling toddlers, coaching teachers and swapping small secrets that mark them as friends. They even got tattoos together. Though Ms. Faulkner, as the boss, earns more money, the difference is a gap, not a chasm.

But a friendship that evokes parity by day becomes a study of inequality at night and a testament to the way family structure deepens class divides. Ms. Faulkner is married and living on two paychecks, while Ms. Schairer is raising her children by herself. That gives the Faulkner family a profound advantage in income and nurturing time, and makes their children statistically more likely to finish college, find good jobs and form stable marriages.

Ms. Faulkner goes home to a trim subdivision and weekends crowded with children’s events. Ms. Schairer’s rent consumes more than half her income, and she scrapes by on food stamps.

“I see Chris’s kids — they’re in swimming and karate and baseball and Boy Scouts, and it seems like it’s always her or her husband who’s able to make it there,” Ms. Schairer said. “That’s something I wish I could do for my kids. But number one, that stuff costs a lot of money and, two, I just don’t have the time.”

The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.

But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

“It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

About 41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago. But equally sharp are the educational divides, according to an analysis by Child Trends, a Washington research group. Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent.

Long concentrated among minorities, motherhood outside marriage now varies by class about as much as it does by race. It is growing fastest in the lower reaches of the white middle class — among women like Ms. Schairer who have some postsecondary schooling but no four-year degree.

While many children of single mothers flourish (two of the last three presidents had mothers who were single during part of their childhood), a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.

Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist, warns that family structure increasingly consigns children to “diverging destinies.”

Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time. By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man.

“The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers,” Ms. McLanahan said. “The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go.”

She said, “I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances.”

Ms. Schairer’s life offers a vivid example of how rapidly norms have changed. She grew up in a small town outside Ann Arbor, where her life revolved around church and school and everyone she knew was married.

“I thought, ‘I’ll meet someone, and we’ll marry and have kids and the house and the white picket fence,’ ” she said. “That’s what I wanted. That’s what I still want.”

She got pregnant during her first year of college, left school and stayed in a troubled relationship that left her with three children when it finally collapsed six years ago. She has had little contact with the children’s father and receives no child support. With an annual income of just under $25,000, Ms. Schairer barely lifts her children out of poverty, but she is not one to complain. “I’m in this position because of decisions I made,” she said.

She buys generic cereal at about half the brand-name price, takes the children to church every week and posts their happy moments on her Facebook page. Inequality is a word she rarely uses, though her family life is a showcase of its broadening reach.

“Two incomes would certainly help with the bills,” she said. “But it’s parenting, too. I wish I could say, ‘Call your dad.’ ”

Path to Single Motherhood

The van with the cracked windshield arrived on a recent day at 7:30 a.m., and three people emerged, the smallest stifling yawns. Several days a week, Ms. Schairer opens the child care center 45 minutes before she can send her two youngest children to school. Bored children in work spaces make mornings tense.

Savannah, 7, crossed the play area on stilts. Steavon, 10, threw a ball. As parents with infants and toddlers hurried past, Ms. Schairer chided the two to stay out of the way. “They’re really not supposed to be here,” she said.

Steavon has Asperger syndrome, a mild form of autism that can lead to sharp mood swings. He slumped on her desk, wanting $2 to buy a bagel at school. Ms. Schairer does not carry cash — one way not to spend it — and handed him pretzels from home. “I don’t like those!” he said, shoving them away.

Ms. Schairer is known for a spotless desk. Steavon found a leaky pen.

“I’m ready for you to go,” she said.

Time away is money lost — Ms. Schairer punched a clock by the door — so she hurried the children to school and returned with a look of relief. A stop in Ms. Faulkner’s office brought a bit of rejuvenating gossip: two teachers were having a tiff. Adult diversions are absent at home.

“I talk to myself a lot,” Ms. Schairer said.

Although she grew up in the 1990s, Ms. Schairer’s small-town childhood had a 1950s feel. Her father drove a beer truck, her mother served as church trustee and her grandparents lived next door. She knew no one rich, no one poor and no one raising children outside of marriage. “It was just the way it was,” she said.

William Penn University, eight hours away in Iowa, offered a taste of independence and a spot on the basketball team. Her first thought when she got pregnant was “My mother’s going to kill me.” Abortion crossed her mind, but her boyfriend, an African-American student from Arkansas, said they should start a family. They agreed that marriage should wait until they could afford a big reception and a long gown.

Their odds were not particularly good: nearly half the unmarried parents living together at a child’s birth split up within five years, according to Child Trends.

Ms. Schairer has trouble explaining, even to herself, why she stayed so long with a man who she said earned little, berated her often and did no parenting. They lived with family (his and hers) and worked off and on while she hoped things would change. “I wanted him to love me,” she said. She was 25 when the breakup made it official: she was raising three children on her own.

She had just answered an ad from a child care center that needed a teacher’s assistant. Ms. Faulkner hired her and promoted her twice, most recently to assistant director.

“She was always stepping out of the classroom and helping,” Ms. Faulkner said. “She just had that drive, that leader in her. I trust her completely.”

Ms. Schairer took night classes and earned a degree from Washtenaw Community College. A supervisor from the corporate office wrote, “We are so lucky to have you.” Still, after nearly six years, she remains an hourly employee making $12.35 an hour, simultaneously in management and on food stamps.

After Ms. Schairer had an operation for cervical cancer last summer, the surgeon told her to take six weeks off. She went back to work five weeks early, with a rare flash of class anger. “It’s easy when you make $500 an hour to stand there and tell me to take six weeks off,” she said. “I can’t have six weeks with no pay.”

A Broadening Gap

Despite the egalitarian trappings of her youth, Ms. Schairer was born (in 1981) as a tidal surge of inequality was remaking American life. Incomes at the top soared, progress in the middle stalled and the paychecks of the poor fell sharply.

Four decades ago, households with children at the 90th percentile of incomes received five times as much as those at the 10th percentile, according to Bruce Western and Tracey Shollenberger of the Harvard sociology department. Now they have 10 times as much. The gaps have widened even more higher up the income scale.

The reasons are manifold: the growing premium a college education commands, technological change that favors mind over muscle, the growth of the financial sector, the loss of manufacturing jobs to automation and foreign competitors, and the decline of labor unions.

But marriage also shapes the story in complex ways. Economic woes speed marital decline, as women see fewer “marriageable men.” The opposite also holds true: marital decline compounds economic woes, since it leaves the needy to struggle alone.

“The people who need to stick together for economic reasons don’t,” said Christopher Jencks, a Harvard sociologist. “And the people who least need to stick together do.”

Changes in family structure do not explain the gains of the very rich — the much-discussed “1 percent” and the richest among them. That story largely spills from Wall Street trading floors and corporate boardrooms.

But for inequality more broadly, Mr. Western found that the growth in single parenthood in recent decades accounted for 15 percent to 25 percent of the widening income gaps. (Estimates depend on the time period, the income tiers and the definition of inequality.) Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution found it to account for 21 percent. Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute, comparing lower-middle- and upper-middle-income families, found that single parenthood explained about 40 percent of inequality’s growth. “That’s not peanuts,” he said.

Across Middle America, single motherhood has moved from an anomaly to a norm with head-turning speed. (That change received a burst of attention this year with the publication of Charles Murray’s new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” which attributed the decline of marriage to the erosion of values, rather than the decline of economic opportunity.)

As recently as 1990, just 10 percent of the births to women like Ms. Schairer (white women with some postsecondary schooling but not a full college degree) occurred outside marriage, according to Child Trends. Now it has tripled to 30 percent, compared with just 8 percent for women of all races with college degrees.

Less-educated women are also more likely to have children with more than one man. Analyzing nearly 2,000 mothers in their mid- to late 20s, Child Trends found that a third of those with high school degrees or less already had children with multiple men. So did 12 percent of mothers with some post-high-school training. But none of the women in the study who had finished college before giving birth had children with multiple men.

“That’s a dramatic difference, and it varies by education more than by race,” said Mindy Scott, a Child Trends demographer. “It tells you these families are on different trajectories. Having men in the house for a short time with ambiguous parenting roles can be really disruptive for children.”

Ms. Schairer did not have a child with another man, but she did find a new boyfriend, who she thought would help with the children and the bills. They dated for a year before he moved in. Kirsten, 11, and Savannah liked him fine, but Steavon adored him.

“I’m not the only boy anymore; we’re going to do boy stuff!” Ms. Schairer recounts him saying.

“What’s boy stuff?” she asked.

“We’re going to play video games and shoot Nerf guns and play Legos,” he said.

“We do that now,” she said.

“Yeah, but you’re not a boy,” he said.

The details of what followed are less important than the disappointment the boyfriend left behind. No Legos got built during his six-month stay, and it took a call to the police to get him to go. The children asked about him a few days later but have not mentioned him since.

Whether measured by Legos or marriage rates, the pattern is similar: the middle is shifting toward the bottom.

Forty years ago, the top and middle income thirds had virtually identical family patterns: more than 95 percent of households with children in either tier had two parents in the home. Since then the groups have diverged, according to Mr. Western and Ms. Shollenberger: 88 percent at the top have two parents, but just 71 percent do in the middle.

“Things remained extremely stable in the top third,” Mr. Western said. “The middle is increasingly suffering some of the same disadvantages as the bottom.”

That is the essence of the story of Ms. Faulkner and Ms. Schairer. What most separates them is not the impact of globalization on their wages but a 6-foot-8-inch man named Kevin.

School Trips and Scouting

Kevin Faulkner works the sunrise shift twice a week, leaving home at 5:30 a.m. for a computer programming job so he can leave work in time to take his sons to afternoon swim practice. Jeremy, 12, is serious and quiet. Justin, 10, is less driven but more openly affectionate. They arrived home recently to a note from Ms. Faulkner about the next day’s Boy Scout trip.

Thursday night:

Pack

Kevin — Pay Home Depot

Chris — Sort clothes

The couple’s life together has unfolded in to-do-list style. They did not inherit wealth or connections or rise on rare talent. They just did standard things in standard order: high school, college, job, marriage and children. “I don’t think I could have done it any more by the books,” Ms. Faulkner said.

The result is a three-bedroom house, two busy boys and an annual Disney cruise.

The secret to their success resides in part in old-fashioned math: strength in numbers. Together, the Faulkners earn nearly three times as much as what Ms. Faulkner earns alone. Their high five-figure income ranks them near the 75th percentile — hardly rich, but better off than nearly three of four families with children.

For Ms. Schairer, the logic works in reverse. Her individual income of $24,500 puts her at the 49th percentile among parents: smack in the middle. But with only one paycheck, her family income falls to the 19th percentile, lagging more than four out of five.

The Faulkners built a house in Livingston County because of the good schools. Ms. Schairer cares about education, too. But with Ann Arbor rents wreaking havoc on her budget, she is considering a move to a neighboring town where the school system lags. She shops at discount grocery stores and tells Savannah to keep away a friend who raids the cabinets.

“I feel bad, like maybe she’s not getting enough to eat,” Ms. Schairer said. “But sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to feed my own kids, never mind another.”

Jeremy Faulkner plays tennis and takes karate. Justin plays soccer and baseball. They both swim and participate in Boy Scouts, including a weeklong summer camp that brings the annual activities bill to about $3,500.

Boy Scouts has been especially important, offering the boys leadership opportunities and time with their father, who helps manage the troop and rarely misses a weekly meeting or monthly camping trip. Jeremy started as a shy boy terrified of public speaking. Now he leads the singalong and is racing to make Eagle Scout.

“He’s just blossomed through Boy Scouts,” Ms. Faulkner said. “I could do the scouting with them, because we have single moms who play that role. But they have different experiences with their dad. Kevin makes good money, but he’s an awesome dad.”

Ms. Schairer tells an opposite story: constraints in time and money limit her children to one sports season a year. That compounds Steavon’s isolation, she said, and reduces her chances to network on his behalf. When she invited his classmates to a park on his birthday a few months ago, no one came.

“He cried and cried and cried,” she said. “I tried the parents I had numbers for, but they didn’t respond.”

Researchers have found that extracurricular activities can enhance academic performance, and scholars cite a growing activities gap to help explain why affluent children tend to do so much better than others in school.

Four decades ago, families in the top income fifth spent about four times as much as those at the bottom fifth on things like sports, music and private schools, according to research by Greg J. Duncan of the University of California, Irvine, and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard. Now affluent families spend seven times as much.

Two parents also bring two parenting perspectives. Ms. Faulkner does bedtime talks. Mr. Faulkner does math. When Ms. Faulkner’s coaxing failed to persuade Jeremy to try hamburgers, Mr. Faulkner offered to jump in a pool fully clothed if he took a bite — an offer Jeremy found too tempting to refuse.

While many studies have found that children of single parents are more likely to grow up poor, less is known about their chances of advancement as adults. But there are suggestions that the absence of a father in the house makes it harder for children to climb the economic ladder.

Scott Winship of the Brookings Institution examined the class trajectories of 2,400 Americans now in their mid-20s. Among those raised in the poorest third as teenagers, 58 percent living with two parents moved up to a higher level as adults, compared with just 44 percent of those with an absent parent.

A parallel story played out at the top: just 15 percent of teenagers living with two parents fell to the bottom third, compared with 27 percent of teenagers without both parents.

“You’re more likely to rise out of the bottom if you live with two parents, and you’re less likely to fall out of the top,” Mr. Winship said.

Mr. Winship interprets his own results cautiously, warning that other differences (like race, education or parenting styles) may also separate the two groups. And even if marriage helped the people who got married, he warns, it might hurt other families if it tied them to troubled men.

“You get back to the question of how many marriageable men there are,” he said.

At the same time, scholars have found that marriage itself can have a motivating effect, pushing men to earn more than unmarried peers. Marriage, that is, can help make men marriageable.

As Mr. Faulkner tells it, something like that happened to him — he returned to college after an aimless hiatus because he wanted to marry Ms. Faulkner. “I knew I had to get serious about my life,” he said.

His experiences as a father so far suggest just how much there is to be said for simply showing up.

“Thank you for coming, Dad,” Justin wrote after a school trip. “I like it when you’re with me at every event and watching me do every activity.”

He added 16 exclamation points.

End of the Day

Left to do the showing up alone, Ms. Schairer makes big efforts. She rarely misses a weekend of church with the children, and she sacrificed a day’s pay this spring to chaperon field day at Steavon and Savannah’s school. “They were both saying, ‘This is my mom, my mom is here!’ ” she said.

In February, she received $7,000 of refundable tax credits, the low-wage worker’s annual bonus. She prepaid her rent for six months and bought plane tickets to Orlando, Fla. After years of seeing pictures of Ms. Faulkner’s vacations, she wanted to give her children one of their own.

“Do you think we’ll see Jesus?” Savannah asked on the flight. “I hope the plane doesn’t run him over.”

They stayed with Ms. Schairer’s brother, visited SeaWorld and Gatorland, and brought back happy memories. But the trip soon began to seem long ago, more a break from their life than an embodiment of it.

Ms. Schairer sank into the couch on a recent Friday night, looking weary, and half-watched a rerun of “Friends.” Steavon retreated to his room to watch “Superman” alone, and Savannah went out to play with the girl who always seems hungry. Kirsten was in her pajamas at 7 o’clock. They had few weekend plans.

Thirty miles away, Troop 395 was pitching tents beside a rural airstrip, where the next day the boys would take glider rides and earn aviation badges. The fields and barns looked as tidy as cartoons, and an extravagant sunset painted them pomegranate.

The clipboard in Justin Faulkner’s hands called for an early reveille. “I’m the patrol leader,” he said, beaming.

Thirty minutes later, a rope appeared. Boys started to boast. Mr. Faulkner snapped on his tug of war gloves, only to discover that Justin had disappeared. He found him sitting in the grass nearby, fighting back tears. “I want to go home,” Justin said.

Mr. Faulkner did not say much. Jeremy used to get homesick, too. Now he is halfway to Eagle Scout. After a while Mr. Faulkner asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to do a tug of war against me?”

Justin watched the other boys tumble. “When?” he said.

“We can do it right now,” Mr. Faulkner said.

It was not much of a contest for a man who outweighs his two sons combined by more than 100 pounds. Justin fell face first and bumped through the cool grass — a laughing tenderfoot pulled along by his dad.

Voir enfin:

Becoming European

Jonah Goldberg

NRO

November 9, 2012

The Progressives won on Tuesday.

I don’t mean the people who voted Democrat who call themselves “progressive.” Though they won, too.

I mean the Progressives who’ve been waging a century-long effort to transform our American-style government into a European-style state.

The words “government” and “state” are often used interchangeably, but they are really different things. According to the Founders’ vision, the people are sovereign and the government belongs to us. Under the European notion of the state, the people are creatures of the state, significant only as parts of the whole.

This European version of the state can be nice. One can live comfortably under it. Many decent and smart people sincerely believe this is the intellectually and morally superior way to organize society. And, to be fair, it’s not a binary thing. The line between the European and American models is blurry. France is not a Huxleyan dystopia, and America is not and has never been an anarchist’s utopia, nor do conservatives want it to be one.

The distinction between the two worldviews is mostly a disagreement over first assumptions about which institutions should take the lead in our lives. It is an argument about what the habits of the American heart should be. Should we live in a country where the first recourse is to appeal to the government, or should government interventions be reserved as a last resort?

These assumptions are formed and informed by political rhetoric. President Obama ran a campaign insisting that Democrats believe “we’re all in it together” and that Republicans think you should be “on your own” no matter what hardships you face. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ “keepers,” according to Obama, and the state is how we “keep” each other. The introductory video at the Democratic National Convention proclaimed, “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

Exactly 100 years before Barack Obama’s reelection victory, Woodrow Wilson was elected president for the first time. It was Wilson’s belief that the old American understanding of government needed to be Europeanized. The key to this transformation was convincing Americans that we all must “marry our interests to the state.”

The chief obstacle for this mission is the family. The family, rightly understood, is an autonomous source of meaning in our lives and the chief place where we sacrifice for, and cooperate with, others. It is also the foundation for local communities and social engagement. As social scientist Charles Murray likes to say, unmarried men rarely volunteer to coach kids’ soccer teams.

Progressivism always looked at the family with skepticism and occasionally hostility. Reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman hoped state-backed liberation of children would destroy “the unchecked tyranny . . . of the private home.” Wilson believed the point of education was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Hillary Clinton, who calls herself a modern progressive and not a liberal, once said we must move beyond the notion there is “any such thing as someone else’s child.”

One of the stark lessons of Obama’s victory is the degree to which the Republican party has become a party for the married and the religious. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you’d need a word that means something much bigger than landslide. Obviously, Obama got some votes from the married and the religious (such people can marry their interests to the state, too), but as a generalization, the Obama coalition heavily depends on people who do not see family or religion as rival or superior sources of material aid or moral authority.

Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married, though, which is a big reason why they’re well-off. “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.

Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that.

In the aftermath of massive American urbanization and industrialization, and in the teeth of a brutal economic downturn, Franklin D. Roosevelt promised to fight for the “forgotten man” — the American who felt lost amidst the social chaos of the age. Obama campaigned for “Julia” — the affluent single mom who had no family and no ostensible faith to fall back on.

In short, the American people are starting to look like Europeans, and as a result they want a European form of government.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Les hispaniques devraient être un électoral naturel pour les Républicains (Who needs two liberal parties?)

9 novembre, 2012
It’s very hard to make the economic argument to people who think you want to deport their grandmother. Marco Rubio
The irony, for those Republican primary voters who demanded tough stances on immigration, is that this is one problem Obama has inadvertently solved. The economy is so lousy under his stewardship that immigrants have stopped coming. Mona Charen
We have never quite had the present perfect storm of nearly half not paying federal income taxes, nearly 50 million on food stamps, and almost half the population on some sort of federal largess — and a sophistic elite that promotes it and at the same time finds ways to be exempt from its social and cultural consequences. For an Obama, Biden, Kerry, Pelosi, or Feinstein, the psychological cost for living like 18th-century French royalty is the promotion of the welfare state for millions of others who for now will be kept far away, in places like Bakersfield or Mendota. The solution, I fear, may be near-insolvency along the Wisconsin model, and self-correction after some dark Greek-like years, or, in contrast, in extremis blue politicians having to deal with the consequences of their own policies. In the manner that an Obama can vastly expand drones and renditions without a whimper of liberal angst, so too someone like him will have to deal with bounced Medicare reimbursements or free cell phones that can’t be replaced when they break, or long lines in federal health clinics emptied of doctors who have gone elsewhere. The laws of physics ultimately prevail. In Michigan in September I had a talk with a retired auto worker who did not care that the bailout cost $25 billion, was not sustainable, shorted the legal first-in-line creditors, shorted politically incorrect managerial pensioners, or ensured the Volt debacle. He simply said to me, “Obama saved my son’s job and I don’t care about much else.” That’s the rub in the short term that seems to the norm in at least the past and future few years. It means that the Republicans, without a once-in-a-lifetime Reagan-like perfect candidate — or some sort of national crisis in the manner that Iran once derailed Jimmy Carter, or Ross Perot once caused incumbent George H. W. Bush to implode — can’t quite get that extra 2 to 3 percentage points they need on the national scene to succeed. Victor Davis Hanson
Hispanics (…) should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented, and socially conservative(on abortion, for example). The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back. For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement. (…) Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable. (…) The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence. (…) More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz, and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.) (…) The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized, and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism. Charles Krauthammer

Susana Martinez, Nikki Haley, Marc Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Brian Sandoval

Alors qu’après la courte défaite républicaine à l’élection présidentielle américaine suite à la défection, sans parler de la "surprise d’octobre" de l’ouragan Sandy, d’une partie de son électorat face au Père Noël de Chicago et ses cadeaux empoisonnés …

Tout le monde y va de ses appels à réformer, devant l’évolution démographique du pays, le prétendument néenderthalien GOP …

Remise des pendules à l’heure avec l’éditorialiste conservateur du Washington Post Charles Krauthammer …

Rappelant l’évidence de l’appartenance naturelle des hispaniques et d’ailleurs des autres minorités au parti de l’effort individuel et des valeurs familiales et judéo-chrétiennes …

The Way Forward

Charles Krauthammer

NRO

November 8, 2012

They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.

The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented, and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).

The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.

For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.

I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.

Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.

The other part of the current lament is that the Republican party consistently trails among blacks, young people, and (unmarried) women. (Republicans are plus-seven among married women.) But this is not for reasons of culture, identity, or even affinity. It is because these constituencies tend to be more politically liberal — and Republicans are the conservative party.

The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.

Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!

More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that, by an eight-point margin (51–43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.

So, why give it up? Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Although Romney ran a solid campaign, he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.

More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz, and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)

They were all either a little too young or just not personally prepared to run in 2012. No longer. There may not be a Reagan among them, but this generation of rising leaders is philosophically rooted and politically fluent in the new constitutional conservatism.

Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.

Romney is a good man who made the best argument he could, and nearly won. He would have made a superb chief executive, but he (like the Clinton machine) could not match Barack Obama in the darker arts of public persuasion.

The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized, and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.

Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism, but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2012 the Washington Post Writers Group.

Voir aussi:

Can Marco Rubio save the GOP on immigration?

Scott Wong and Lois Romano

Politico

November 9, 2012

Barely an hour after Mitt Romney conceded the presidential election Wednesday morning, Marco Rubio laid down his marker for 2016: No, he wouldn’t be the candidate of the tired old white guy.

“The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it,” the GOP Florida senator posted on his Facebook page at 2:16 a.m. “And Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them.”

This is indisputably Rubio’s moment, and how the 41-year-old senator and the most prominent Latino in national politics today carries his party’s demographic burden will define not only his own future — but the future of the Republican Party. He was the biggest Republican winner Tuesday, Republicans will tell you, as it became painfully clear that Romney would carry only 27 percent of the nation’s fastest-growing demographic.

Now, as fingers are pointed and blame is assigned, all eyes are on Rubio to help lead his party out of the political abyss with Hispanic voters. As Rubio positions himself for a 2016 run, his advisers are adamant that he not become merely the Latino candidate but a conservative leader with a compelling voice who can articulate to Hispanics that the Republican Party’s values are their values — family, social conservatism, free-market entrepreneurialism.

“He is without question a world-class political talent with the ability to lead the party into the 21st century … a party that has become synonymous with intolerance and loons to too many swing voters,” said Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who ran Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“You know the media and the party — everyone is looking at this lifeboat with Marco written on the side of it and everyone wants to jump in,” said GOP political strategist Alex Castellanos. “We better be careful or we’re gonna sink it. We’re going to take one of our greatest assets and pigeonhole and typecast him. We need to move the conversation to the next generation, and he’s one of the people who understand that we have to be the party of hope.”

Rubio and his advisers are well aware of the risks: He must thread a needle as he tries to portray an open, tolerant party while not incensing the ultraconservative base who want tall fences, closed borders and nothing that looks like amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Rubio is already testing the national waters — he’s heading to an Iowa fundraiser next week — so he’s well aware of the complexity of moving the party to the left on immigration while appealing to the conservatives who rule the Republican primary process.

Rubio seems likely to approach potential immigration talks from a biographical standpoint. The son of working-class, Cuban-born parents, the bilingual senator often speaks of how his mom and dad toiled for decades as a hotel maid and bartender after moving to America, longing for a better future for their children.

“He is well-positioned to be a leader on this issue — but it will take courage and he can’t do it alone,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

“This is a very, very dangerous area for Rubio if he has national aspirations,” said Roy Beck, head of the anti-immigration group Numbers USA. “You’ve had Republicans trying to do this in the past that really lost their status in the party once they did it.”

Rubio also has a potential problem inside the Senate. Two of the top Senate Republicans — Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of Texas — are up for reelection in 2014 and have to be worried about a tea party primary challenge if they fire up the base on immigration.

In an interview with POLITICO last summer, Rubio made clear that he would like to move past immigration reform so that he can relay a broader message to the Latino community about his party. “If we could just get past that gateway issue of immigration policy and what it means about us as Republicans, I think we have a very compelling story to tell about how our economic policies are better for the Hispanic community than the Democrats’ economic policies,” he said.

“I think it’s a gateway issue, [which] in many ways, sends a signal about how a political movement, a candidate or a group of individuals feels about another group of people.”

The numbers behind the 2012 election tell the story of the party’s demographic challenge.

President George W. Bush, who was a strong voice for comprehensive immigration reform, won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004 and 35 percent in 2000. Romney took only 27 percent Tuesday.

“What I urge my Republican colleagues to do is to understand we have a demographic problem, the rhetoric around immigration has led to our reduction in Hispanic votes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told POLITICO.

While Rubio will most likely be the GOP’s point man on immigration on the Hill, Bush’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also is expected to help bridge the gap with Hispanics.

“They both have the stature and the credibility, and they both have the messaging talents to deal with an issue that has been a difficult issue for our party to drive consensus,” said Al Cardenas, chairman of the grass-roots American Conservative Union and a close friend of both men.

“A bipartisan version of the DREAM Act is not at this time the appropriate remedy,” he added. “We need to get this whole wedge issue off the table in order to be true competitors for that vote.”

Rubio declined to be interviewed. But spokesman Alex Conant said his boss had spent most of the year developing an alternative to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s DREAM Act and would try to pass it in the new Congress “if the Democrats are serious about permanently addressing the status of undocumented young people.”

Rubio never introduced legislation this year, but his ideas would give “non-immigrant” visas to undocumented children brought to the United States at an early age provided they have no criminal record and have completed high school. It would allow them to stay in the country and access the existing immigration system through which they could eventually become green-card holders or naturalized citizens

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s elections, many Republicans believe they need to recalibrate and listen to Rubio. But while Rubio may be able to sway his Senate colleagues, his influence among House members is less certain.

“My gut is there are not too many Republicans who have been against comprehensive reform who will change positions,” said longtime pro-immigration activist Rick Swartz, who founded the National Immigration Forum. Reform “is easy to talk about but harder to get it done.”

Rubio, who early on had been mentioned as a possible Romney running mate, played the role of surrogate and loyal foot soldier during this year’s presidential campaign. From April to November, Rubio stumped for Romney at nearly 60 events — in virtually all the battleground states, including states with big Latino populations such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado. He also provided star power for another 40 fundraisers and campaign events for Senate Republican candidates in states from Massachusetts to Nebraska.

The rigorous schedule kept his name in the news, raised his profile in key states and gave him a taste of a presidential campaign. As the GOP searches for a new standard-bearer for 2016, Rubio is continuing to make moves toward a possible run, wooing party leaders and voters in the all-important primary state of Iowa.

On Nov. 17, Rubio will headline the annual birthday fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad at the Palace Theater in Altoona. He stumped for Romney in the Des Moines area back in July. And at the invitation of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rubio addressed nearly 200 members of a Des Moines business group in May during their annual visit to Washington.

Manu Raju contributed to this report.

Voir enfin:

Le phénomène Nikki Haley: une ex-sikhe élue gouverneur?

Richard Hétu

La Presse

21 juin 2010

(New York) En jetant leur dévolu sur Barack Obama lors de l’élection présidentielle de 2008, les États-Unis ont aboli ce qui semblait être la plus haute des barrières raciales ou sociales. Or, il faut se demander si la Caroline-du-Sud, un des États américains les plus conservateurs, n’est pas en voie de réaliser une première encore plus remarquable: élire en novembre au poste de gouverneur une candidate indo-américaine élevée dans la religion sikhe qui a été accusée d’adultère deux fois plutôt qu’une au cours des dernières semaines.

Le phénomène en question, Nikki Haley, née Nimrata Nikki Randhawa il y a 38 ans à Bamberg, une ville de Caroline-du-Sud, a d’excellentes chances de remporter demain l’investiture républicaine en vue de cette élection dont elle serait favorite en raison de son appartenance au parti le plus populaire de son État. La plupart des observateurs semblent avoir besoin de se pincer pour se convaincre qu’ils ne rêvent pas.

«Je suis très surprise», dit Laura Woliver, directrice adjointe du programme d’études féminines à l’Université de Caroline-du-Sud. «Cela me fait penser à l’histoire de Bobby Jindal en Louisiane, avec en supplément le facteur du sexe», ajoute-t-elle en faisant référence au premier politicien d’origine indienne à se faire élire au poste de gouverneur d’un État américain.

«Ce sera un grand changement», dit de son côté David Woodard, politologue à l’Université Clemson et coauteur d’un livre avec Jim DeMint, sénateur très conservateur de Caroline-du-Sud. «Mais le facteur ethnique est moins important que le facteur du sexe. La Caroline-du-Sud est l’État américain qui compte le moins de femmes parmi ses élus. Le fait que Nikki Haley ait autant de succès tranche avec l’histoire de l’État.»

Comment cette comptable de profession, dont le père porte le turban, en est-elle arrivée là? Après avoir travaillé pour l’entreprise familiale et s’être mariée à Michael Haley, un chrétien rencontré à l’Université Clemson avec lequel elle a eu deux enfants, Nikki Haley a entrepris sa carrière politique en se faisant élire à la Chambre basse de Caroline-du-Sud en 2004.

Au fil des ans, elle est devenue une alliée du gouverneur républicain Mark Sanford, dont elle a épousé le discours libertarien en faveur d’un État minimal. Cette approche, combinée avec un aplomb et une éloquence incontestables, a fait d’elle la favorite des militants du Tea Party de Caroline-du-Sud et lui a permis de passer de la quatrième à la première place dans les sondages parmi les quatre candidats engagés dans la course à l’investiture républicaine pour le poste de gouverneur de l’État.

C’est alors que Will Folks, ex-porte-parole du gouverneur Sanford devenu blogueur, a lancé la première accusation d’adultère contre Nikki Haley, affirmant avoir eu une liaison «déplacée» avec la candidate. Un lobbyiste ayant travaillé pour un rival de Haley lui a emboîté le pas en prétendant également avoir couché avec celle-ci.

Nikki Haley a vigoureusement nié ces allégations. Et, après avoir reçu l’appui de Sarah Palin et de Mitt Romney, deux candidats potentiels à la présidence en 2012, elle a fini en tête lors de la primaire républicaine du 8 juin avec 49% des voix contre 22% pour son plus proche rival, le représentant Gresham Barrett.

Les deux candidats s’affronteront demain dans un deuxième tour.

«De toute évidence, les électeurs n’ont pas accordé beaucoup de crédibilité aux allégations des accusateurs de Nikki Haley, dit David Woodard, politologue de l’Université Clemson. En fait, selon un de mes sondages, seulement 15% d’entre eux y ont cru.»

Nikki Haley a également dû faire face au racisme qui persiste au sein même de son parti. «Nous avons déjà une tête enturbannée à la Maison-Blanche, nous n’en avons pas besoin d’une autre à la maison du gouverneur», a déclaré un élu républicain au Sénat de Caroline-du-Sud.

Et la candidate doit répondre aux questions persistantes des journalistes et des électeurs sur sa religion. Elle dit avoir abandonné la foi sikhe de son père pour embrasser la religion méthodiste de son mari. Certains de ses adversaires ont mis en doute la sincérité de sa conversion.


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Seul un candidat noir aurait pu gagner avec un programme aussi rétrograde (The night we waved goodbye to America – again!)

9 novembre, 2012
It’s clear to me that the current GOP has dissolved into the angry white people’s party, much like the old National Party of South Africa. How can this political party recreate itself into a multi-racial, multi-religious party that is relevant to most Americans? Catherine Lugg (Princeton, NJ, Nov. 3, 2008)
If Obama was white, he wouldn’t be president. ET Williams
Aucun candidat blanc en Amérique n’aurait pu gagner une élection fondée sur la base d’un tel programme. Shelby Steele (Nov. 2008)
The President-elect’s so-called “tax cut” will absolve 48 percent of Americans from paying any federal income tax at all, while those that are left will pay more. Just under half the population will be, as Daniel Henninger pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, on the dole. By 2012, it will be more than half, and this will be an electorate where the majority of the electorate will be able to vote itself more lollipops from the minority of their compatriots still dumb enough to prioritize self-reliance, dynamism, and innovation over the sedating cocoon of the nanny state. That is the death of the American idea. Mark Steyn (Nov. 2008)
I was in Washington DC the night of the election. (…) There had been a few white people blowing car horns and shouting, as the result became clear. But among the Mexicans, Salvadorans and the other Third World nationalities, there was something like ecstasy. They grasped the real significance of this moment. They knew it meant that America had finally switched sides in a global cultural war. Forget the Cold War, or even the Iraq War. The United States, having for the most part a deeply conservative people, had until now just about stood out against many of the mistakes which have ruined so much of the rest of the world. Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice and high taxes, totally committed to preserving its own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part Muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, it was unique. These strengths had been fading for some time, mainly due to poorly controlled mass immigration and to the march of political correctness. They had also been weakened by the failure of America’s conservative party – the Republicans – to fight on the cultural and moral fronts. They preferred to posture on the world stage. Scared of confronting Left-wing teachers and sexual revolutionaries at home, they could order soldiers to be brave on their behalf in far-off deserts. And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World. How sad. Where now is our last best hope on Earth? Peter Hitchens (Nov. 2008)
In textbook community-organizing fashion, Obama won the election by brilliantly cobbling together factions with shrill warnings of supposed enemies everywhere. Young women were threatened by sexist Neanderthal males. Minorities were oppressed by neo-Confederate tea partiers. Greens were in danger from greedy smokestack polluters. Gays were bullied by homophobic Evangelicals. Illegal aliens were demonized by xenophobic nativists. And the 47 percent were at the mercy of the grasping 1 percent. Almost any American could fall into the category of either an Obama-aligned victim or a Romney-aligned oppressor. How, then, can a reelected President Obama put the fractured American Humpty Dumpty together again after it has been shattered by such a nasty campaign? Victor Davis Hanson (Nov. 2012)
We have never quite had the present perfect storm of nearly half not paying federal income taxes, nearly 50 million on food stamps, and almost half the population on some sort of federal largess — and a sophistic elite that promotes it and at the same time finds ways to be exempt from its social and cultural consequences. For an Obama, Biden, Kerry, Pelosi, or Feinstein, the psychological cost for living like 18th-century French royalty is the promotion of the welfare state for millions of others who for now will be kept far away, in places like Bakersfield or Mendota. The solution, I fear, may be near-insolvency along the Wisconsin model, and self-correction after some dark Greek-like years, or, in contrast, in extremis blue politicians having to deal with the consequences of their own policies. In the manner that an Obama can vastly expand drones and renditions without a whimper of liberal angst, so too someone like him will have to deal with bounced Medicare reimbursements or free cell phones that can’t be replaced when they break, or long lines in federal health clinics emptied of doctors who have gone elsewhere. The laws of physics ultimately prevail. In Michigan in September I had a talk with a retired auto worker who did not care that the bailout cost $25 billion, was not sustainable, shorted the legal first-in-line creditors, shorted politically incorrect managerial pensioners, or ensured the Volt debacle. He simply said to me, “Obama saved my son’s job and I don’t care about much else.” That’s the rub in the short term that seems to the norm in at least the past and future few years. It means that the Republicans, without a once-in-a-lifetime Reagan-like perfect candidate — or some sort of national crisis in the manner that Iran once derailed Jimmy Carter, or Ross Perot once caused incumbent George H. W. Bush to implode — can’t quite get that extra 2 to 3 percentage points they need on the national scene to succeed. Victor Davis Hanson (Nov. 2012)
Hispanics (…) should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented, and socially conservative (on abortion, for example). The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back. For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement. (…) Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable. (…) The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence. (…) More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz, and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.) (…) The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized, and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism. Charles Krauthammer

Pour ceux qui, comme Victor Davis Hanson et à l’instar du héros d’ "Un jour sans fin", auraient l’impression de revivre à nouveau la même journée à l’infini …

A l’heure où, au lendemain d’une courte réélection du premier président américain élu sur sa simple couleur de peau et ses cadeaux de Noël, nos médias ont repris leur matraquage obamalâtre …

Et où tout progressiste qui se respecte n’a pas de mots assez durs pour fustiger l’indécrottable racisme et esprit rétrograde républicains auxquels nous aurions prétendument échappé …

Comment ne pas repenser, avec les célèbres commentateurs conservateurs Peter Hitchens, Mark Steyn et Shelby Steele (merci james), à cette fameuse journée de novembre 2008 où le cauchemar a commencé ?

The night we waved goodbye to America… our last best hope on Earth

Peter Hitchens

The Daily Mail

10 November 2008

Anyone would think we had just elected a hip, skinny and youthful replacement for God, with a plan to modernise Heaven and Hell – or that at the very least John Lennon had come back from the dead.

The swooning frenzy over the choice of Barack Obama as President of the United States must be one of the most absurd waves of self-deception and swirling fantasy ever to sweep through an advanced civilisation. At least Mandela-worship – its nearest equivalent – is focused on a man who actually did something.

I really don’t see how the Obama devotees can ever in future mock the Moonies, the Scientologists or people who claim to have been abducted in flying saucers. This is a cult like the one which grew up around Princess Diana, bereft of reason and hostile to facts.

It already has all the signs of such a thing. The newspapers which recorded Obama’s victory have become valuable relics. You may buy Obama picture books and Obama calendars and if there isn’t yet a children’s picture version of his story, there soon will be.

Proper books, recording his sordid associates, his cowardly voting record, his astonishingly militant commitment to unrestricted abortion and his blundering trip to Africa, are little-read and hard to find.

If you can believe that this undistinguished and conventionally Left-wing machine politician is a sort of secular saviour, then you can believe anything. He plainly doesn’t believe it himself. His cliche-stuffed, PC clunker of an acceptance speech suffered badly from nerves. It was what you would expect from someone who knew he’d promised too much and that from now on the easy bit was over.

He needn’t worry too much. From now on, the rough boys and girls of America’s Democratic Party apparatus, many recycled from Bill Clinton’s stained and crumpled entourage, will crowd round him, to collect the rich spoils of his victory and also tell him what to do, which is what he is used to.

Just look at his sermon by the shores of Lake Michigan. He really did talk about a ‘new dawn’, and a ‘timeless creed’ (which was ‘yes, we can’). He proclaimed that ‘change has come’. He revealed that, despite having edited the Harvard Law Review, he doesn’t know what ‘enormity’ means. He reached depths of oratorical drivel never even plumbed by our own Mr Blair, burbling about putting our hands on the arc of history (or was it the ark of history?) and bending it once more toward the hope of a better day (Don’t try this at home).

I am not making this up. No wonder that awful old hack Jesse Jackson sobbed as he watched. How he must wish he, too, could get away with this sort of stuff.

And it was interesting how the President-elect failed to lift his admiring audience by repeated – but rather hesitant – invocations of the brainless slogan he was forced by his minders to adopt against his will – ‘Yes, we can’. They were supposed to thunder ‘Yes, we can!’ back at him, but they just wouldn’t join in. No wonder. Yes we can what exactly? Go home and keep a close eye on the tax rate, is my advice. He’d have been better off bursting into ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony’ which contains roughly the same message and might have attracted some valuable commercial sponsorship.

Perhaps, being a Chicago crowd, they knew some of the things that 52.5 per cent of America prefers not to know. They know Obama is the obedient servant of one of the most squalid and unshakeable political machines in America. They know that one of his alarmingly close associates, a state-subsidised slum landlord called Tony Rezko, has been convicted on fraud and corruption charges.

They also know the US is just as segregated as it was before Martin Luther King – in schools, streets, neighbourhoods, holidays, even in its TV-watching habits and its choice of fast-food joint. The difference is that it is now done by unspoken agreement rather than by law.

If Mr Obama’s election had threatened any of that, his feel-good white supporters would have scuttled off and voted for John McCain, or practically anyone. But it doesn’t. Mr Obama, thanks mainly to the now-departed grandmother he alternately praised as a saint and denounced as a racial bigot, has the huge advantages of an expensive private education. He did not have to grow up in the badlands of useless schools, shattered families and gangs which are the lot of so many young black men of his generation.

If the nonsensical claims made for this election were true, then every positive discrimination programme aimed at helping black people into jobs they otherwise wouldn’t get should be abandoned forthwith. Nothing of the kind will happen. On the contrary, there will probably be more of them.

And if those who voted for Obama were all proving their anti-racist nobility, that presumably means that those many millions who didn’t vote for him were proving themselves to be hopeless bigots. This is obviously untrue.

Yes we can what?: Barack Obama ran on the ticket of change

I was in Washington DC the night of the election. America’s beautiful capital has a sad secret. It is perhaps the most racially divided city in the world, with 15th Street – which runs due north from the White House – the unofficial frontier between black and white. But, like so much of America, it also now has a new division, and one which is in many ways much more important. I had attended an election-night party in a smart and liberal white area, but was staying the night less than a mile away on the edge of a suburb where Spanish is spoken as much as English, plus a smattering of tongues from such places as Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan.

As I walked, I crossed another of Washington’s secret frontiers. There had been a few white people blowing car horns and shouting, as the result became clear. But among the Mexicans, Salvadorans and the other Third World nationalities, there was something like ecstasy.

They grasped the real significance of this moment. They knew it meant that America had finally switched sides in a global cultural war. Forget the Cold War, or even the Iraq War. The United States, having for the most part a deeply conservative people, had until now just about stood out against many of the mistakes which have ruined so much of the rest of the world.

Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice and high taxes, totally committed to preserving its own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part Muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, it was unique.

These strengths had been fading for some time, mainly due to poorly controlled mass immigration and to the march of political correctness. They had also been weakened by the failure of America’s conservative party – the Republicans – to fight on the cultural and moral fronts.

They preferred to posture on the world stage. Scared of confronting Left-wing teachers and sexual revolutionaries at home, they could order soldiers to be brave on their behalf in far-off deserts. And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World. How sad. Where now is our last best hope on Earth?

Voir aussi:

The Death of the American Idea

Mark Steyn

The National Review

November 8, 2008

‘Give me liberty or give me death!”

“Live free or die!”

What’s that? Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just trying out slogans for the 2012 campaign and seeing which one would get the biggest laughs.

My Republican friends are now saying, oh, not to worry, look at the exit polls, this is still a “center-right” country. Americans didn’t vote to go left, they voted to go cool. It was a Dancing With The Stars election: Obama’s a star and everyone wants to dance with him. It doesn’t mean they’re suddenly gung-ho for left-wingery.

Up to a point. Unlike those excitable countries where the peasants overrun the presidential palace, settled democratic societies rarely vote to “go left.” Yet oddly enough that’s where they’ve all gone. In its assumptions about the size of the state and the role of government, almost every advanced nation is more left than it was, and getting lefter. Even in America, federal spending (in inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars) has gone from $600 billion in 1965 to $3 trillion today. The Heritage Foundation put it in a convenient graph: It’s pretty much a straight line across four decades, up, up, up. Doesn’t make any difference who controls Congress, who’s in the White House. The government just grows and grows, remorselessly. Every two years, the voters walk out of their town halls and school gyms and tell the exit pollsters that three-quarters of them are “moderates” or “conservatives” (ie, the center and the right) and barely 20 per cent are “liberals.” And then, regardless of how the vote went, big government just resumes its inexorable growth.

“The greatest dangers to liberty,” wrote Justice Brandeis, “lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”

Now who does that remind you of?

Ha! Trick question! Never mind Obama, it’s John McCain. He encroached on our liberties with the constitutional abomination of McCain-Feingold. Well-meaning but without understanding, he proposed that the federal government buy up all these junk mortgages so that people would be able to stay in “their” homes. And this is the “center-right” candidate? It’s hard for Republicans to hammer Obama as a socialist when their own party’s nationalizing the banks and its presidential nominee is denouncing the private sector for putting profits before patriotism. That’s why Joe the Plumber struck a chord: he briefly turned a one-and-a-half party election back into a two-party choice again.

If you went back to the end of the 19th century and suggested to, say, William McKinley that one day Americans would find themselves choosing between a candidate promising to guarantee your mortgage and a candidate promising to give “tax cuts” to millions of people who pay no taxes he would scoff at you for concocting some patently absurd H G Wells dystopian fantasy. Yet it happened. Slowly, remorselessly, government metastasized to the point where it now seems entirely normal for Peggy Joseph of Sarasota, Florida to vote for Obama because “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.”

While few electorates consciously choose to leap left, a couple more steps every election and eventually societies reach a tipping point. In much of the west, it’s government health care. It changes the relationship between state and citizen into something closer to pusher and junkie. Henceforth, elections are fought over which party is proposing the shiniest government bauble: If you think President-elect Obama’s promise of federally subsidized day care was a relatively peripheral part of his platform, in Canada in the election before last it was the dominant issue. Yet America may be approaching its tipping point even more directly. In political terms, the message of the gazillion-dollar bipartisan bailout was a simple one: “Individual responsibility” and “self-reliance” are for chumps. If Goldman Sachs and AIG and Bear Stearns are getting government checks to “stay in their homes” (and boardrooms, and luxury corporate retreats), why shouldn’t Peggy Joseph?

I don’t need Barack Obama’s help to “spread the wealth around.” I spread my wealth around every time I hire somebody, expand my business, or just go to the general store and buy a quart of milk and loaf of bread. As far as I know, only one bloated plutocrat declines to spread his wealth around, and that’s Scrooge McDuck, whose principal activity in Disney cartoons was getting into his little bulldozer and plowing back and forth over a mountain of warehoused gold and silver coins. Don’t know where he is these days. On the board at Halliburton, no doubt. But most of the beleaguered band of American capitalists do not warehouse their wealth in McDuck fashion. It’s not a choice between hoarding and spreading, but a choice between who spreads it best: an individual free to make his own decisions about investment and spending, or Barney Frank. I don’t find that a difficult question to answer. More to the point, put Barney & Co in charge of the spreading, and there’ll be a lot less to spread.

I disagree with my fellow conservatives who think the Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Frank liberal behemoth will so obviously screw up that they’ll be routed in two or four years’ time. The President-elect’s so-called “tax cut” will absolve 48 percent of Americans from paying any federal income tax at all, while those that are left will pay more. Just under half the population will be, as Daniel Henninger pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, on the dole. By 2012, it will be more than half, and this will be an electorate where the majority of the electorate will be able to vote itself more lollipops from the minority of their compatriots still dumb enough to prioritize self-reliance, dynamism, and innovation over the sedating cocoon of the nanny state. That is the death of the American idea — which, after all, began as an economic argument: “No taxation without representation” is a great rallying cry. “No representation without taxation” has less mass appeal. For how do you tell an electorate living high off the entitlement hog that it’s unsustainable and you’ve got to give some of it back?

At that point, America might as well apply for honorary membership in the European Union. It will be a nation at odds with the spirit of its founding, and embarking on decline from which there are few escape routes. In 2012, the least we deserve is a choice between the collectivist assumptions of the Democrats, and a candidate who stands for individual liberty — for economic dynamism not the sclerotic “managed capitalism” of Germany; for the First Amendment, not Canadian-style government regulation of approved opinion; for self-reliance and the Second Amendment, not the security state in which Britons are second only to North Koreans in the number of times they’re photographed by government cameras in the course of going about their daily business. In Forbes this week, Claudia Rosett issued a stirring defense of individual liberty. That it should require a stirring defense at all is a melancholy reflection on this election season. Live free — or die from a thousand beguiling caresses of nanny-state sirens.

Voir enfin:

Groundhog Day in America

Victor Davis Hanson

The NRO

November 8, 2012

Barack Obama won a moderately close victory over Mitt Romney on Tuesday. But oddly, nothing much has changed. The country is still split nearly 50/50. There is still a Democratic president, and an almost identically Democratic Senate at war with an almost identically Republican House, in a Groundhog Day America.

Obama’s win did not really reflect affirmation of his first term, given that the president made only halfhearted efforts to defend Obamacare, the stimulus, huge Keynesian deficits, and his attempts to implement cap-and-trade. So if there is a second-term agenda, even Obama supporters don’t quite know what it will be.

Unlike the hope-and-change campaign of 2008, Obama’s theme this time around was that George W. Bush had been awful and Mitt Romney would be far worse. The Obama campaign spent almost $1 billion to brand the latter as a veritable felon who callously let people suffer without health insurance.

In textbook community-organizing fashion, Obama won the election by brilliantly cobbling together factions with shrill warnings of supposed enemies everywhere. Young women were threatened by sexist Neanderthal males. Minorities were oppressed by neo-Confederate tea partiers. Greens were in danger from greedy smokestack polluters. Gays were bullied by homophobic Evangelicals. Illegal aliens were demonized by xenophobic nativists. And the 47 percent were at the mercy of the grasping 1 percent. Almost any American could fall into the category of either an Obama-aligned victim or a Romney-aligned oppressor.

How, then, can a reelected President Obama put the fractured American Humpty Dumpty together again after it has been shattered by such a nasty campaign? Certainly, it will no longer work for the president merely to wax eloquent on the need for more civility. Instead, his congressional opponents will expect more hardball Chicago politics and will probably reply in kind.

Yet Obama is going to need bipartisan help to solve a number of menacing crises. His $1 trillion deficits cannot continue for another four years without wrecking the country. A staggering national debt of nearly $17 trillion must also be reduced before our currency is rendered worthless and the interest on the vast borrowing overwhelms the budget. Sequestration looms, with massive cuts in defense and entitlements on the immediate horizon, reminding us that we can live neither with the disease of massive borrowing nor apparently with the medicine of radical cuts and higher taxes.

If most Americans are willing to consider allowing paths to citizenship for law-obeying illegal aliens who were brought here as children, then they should be equally adamant about deporting illegals who have committed felonies or have become wards of the state. But does anyone believe such a balance will really be the basis for compromise?

The dread of Obamacare has already helped to spike insurance premiums. No one yet quite knows how the massive wave of new regulations will affect patients, doctors, and hospitals. Nearly three years after the bill’s passage, the public is still not happy with even the idea of it.

Abroad, most believe that Iran will become a nuclear power unless it is stopped during Obama’s second term. Obama’s choices are bad versus worse: a nuclear-armed Iran bullying the Middle East with a sword of Damocles permanently suspended over Israel’s head, or a preemptive war to defang the theocracy, leading to an almost certain wave of terrorism in the Middle East and a flaming Persian Gulf.

There must be truth-telling soon over the terrorist killing of our ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. A mostly pro-Obama media — in fear of endangering the president’s reelection bid — postponed questioning the preposterous administration narrative of a spontaneous demonstration gone awry over an obscure video.

But the facts of the worst terrorist attack on Americans since 9/11/01 remain stubborn things and won’t go away. Al-Qaeda has not been dismantled, but is still killing Americans. Libya is not a model of a democratic Arab Spring, but mired in tribal chaos.

Key administration officials — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, especially — will have to explain why prior warnings from Libya were ignored, with fatal consequences. Others, like Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, Vice President Joe Biden, and perhaps the president himself, must tell us why for so long they claimed that the violence was spontaneous, when they knew, or should have known, it was preplanned terrorism.

Yet not everything ahead is bleak. Vast new gas and oil finds could soon make America energy independent. The American economy is cyclical and may finally rebound on its own — if Obama just leaves it alone and stops regulating and borrowing.

Popular lore attests that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Let’s hope that the same Democratic president, the same polarized Congress, and the same divided country do something differently from what they did in the last, lost four years.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta.

 


Présidentielle américaine/2012: C’était bien la participation, imbécile ! (Romney even got fewer votes than McCain)

8 novembre, 2012
En 2012, la participation frôle les 80 %, ce qui est important. Si elle est de 4 points inférieure à celle de 2007, elle est très supérieure à ce que les instituts de sondage prévoyaient : un effondrement proche de 10 points ! A mon sens, on doit y voir la très forte mobilisation de la gauche dans son rejet du sarkozysme. L’autre manifestation de cette colère à l’égard du président sortant s’est traduite par une plus faible participation des villes où Nicolas Sarkozy avait fait le plein en 2007. Typiquement, le retraité qui a voté pour le candidat UMP, il y a cinq ans, s’est abstenu au premier tour cette fois-ci. Ce qui laisse une certaine marge de progression pour le convaincre de se déplacer au second tour. En revanche, François Hollande semble ne disposer que de peu de réserve parmi les abstentionnistes du premier tour. (…)  Si l’on met l’accent sur sa deuxième place, on pourrait conclure à un échec par rapport aux présidents sortants tous arrivés en tête. Seulement, en 2002, Jacques Chirac, dont le bilan est jugé comme inexistant, a certes respecté la règle en s’offrant la première marche du podium, mais en ne captant que moins de 20% des voix. Aussi dire que la stratégie Buisson, ou plutôt Buisson-Guaino a échoué, est-il, à mon sens une erreur d’analyse. Christophe Guilluy
Dans de nombreux milieux académiques, artistiques et éduqués, il est impossible d’afficher son soutien éventuel à Nicolas Sarkozy, tellement l’antisarkozysme y est explicitement hurlé, ce qui évidemment empêche toute discussion entre amis. On se doit d’y adhérer par le silence. Il suffirait que lors des prochains jours, un petit pourcent de ces personnes retranchées dans leur civilité « osent » leur opinion, et se mettent à débattre pour contribuer à ce petit fléchissement d’inflexibles qui, toujours d’après les équations, provoquerait un effet de levier brutal et soudain, amenant le jour de l’élection la victoire surprise de Nicolas Sarkozy comme illustré sur la figure où seule une différence de 1% d’inflexibles différencie les deux courbes ci-dessous.
Les « inflexibles », ceux qui ont fait un choix et n’en démordront pas quoi qu’il arrive (…) ont un effet démultiplicateur énorme sur la dynamique de changements d’opinion des flexibles. Ainsi, ce ne sont pas des millions d’électeurs qu’il faut convaincre, mais former une petite minorité d’inflexibles, qui par le simple fait du débat entre amis, va produire par un effet viral la « contamination » d’un grand nombre d’électeurs flexibles. Ces inflexibles ne se forment pas par un coup de baguette magique, mais en l’occurrence de nombreux inflexibles favorables à Nicolas Sarkozy sont aujourd’hui silencieux. C’est leurs paroles locales qu’il s’agit de libérer pour Nicolas Sarkozy. Comme pour François Hollande, l’enjeu est au contraire de les maintenir silencieux. Serge Galam
Au-delà du phénomène traditionnel de non-révélation des préférences, deux paramètres peuvent échapper aux enquêtes des sondeurs. D’abord les reports très fluctuants et dispersés d’un institut à l’autre, rappelons-le, reposent sur une participation inconnue au second tour. Or, on ignore aujourd’hui quel camp a le plus de réserves. Par ailleurs, les participants du premier tour ne sont jamais tout à fait les mêmes qu’au second tour, même si la participation reste en apparence constante. Enfin, les instituts insistent sur la mauvaise qualité (postulée) des reports à droite et fort peu sur celle des reports à gauche. Or, la grande inconnue réside dans le comportement des électeurs du front de gauche dont l’électorat dépasse largement les contours du seul parti communiste, qui de son côté, est généralement discipliné. (…) Si les « vrais » votes du 6 mai sont influencés par un ou plusieurs des paramètres précédents, l’écart entre F. Hollande et de N. Sarkozy pourrait être beaucoup plus serré qu’attendu par les instituts de sondages voire même réserver un énorme surprise …du point de vue des commentateurs…mais pas du point de vue de l’arithmétique électorale et de l’observation empirique. Bruno Jérôme et Véronique Jérôme-Speziari
According to exit polls, the partisan breakdown on Election Day was 38 percent Democratic, 30 percent Republican, and 31 percent independent. That gave Democrats an 8-point advantage — the same they enjoyed in 2008. (In 2004, Republicans had a 5-point advantage in the Buckeye state.) NRO
The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator. So who were these whites and why did they stay home? My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations. So instead, I looked at my current home state of Ohio, which has counted almost all of its votes (absentees are counted first here). (…) Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years. My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home. (…) Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party). Sean Trende

C’était bien la participation, imbécile !

Moins de voix que McCain en 2008? Moins de voix que Bush en 2004? Obama à 92% de ses voix de 2008?

Alors qu’un peu comme en France il y a cinq mois et avec le même résultat, certains observateurs dont le spécialiste républicain Karl Rove lui-même pensaient que les chiffres des sondeurs sureprésentaient les démocrates en s’appuyant sur les chiffres de participation particulièrement élevés de 2008 censés être nettement en baisse cette année face à des électeurs républicains supposés nettement plus motivés …

Retour sur les premiers chiffres de sortie des urnes …

Et la plus que surprenante réaité: la participation a effectivement compté mais pas dans le sens anticipé:

Les Républicains semblant être largement restés chez eux, privant de fait leur candidat d’une victoire théoriquement à sa portée  …

Alright… so… what happened?

The AnarchAngel

November 7, 2012

So how did Obama win?

Well.. as it happens, so did Romney.

Get less votes than McCain that is… About 3 million less actually.

In fact, Romney lost to Obama, by fewer votes (about 2.6 million) than the difference between McCain and Romney from 2008 to 2012.

If Romney had achieved the same number of votes McCain did in 2008, he probably would have won.

It really did come down to turnout… But not in the way we expected.

Those of us who believed that Romney was going to win, assumed that that while almost no-one actually loved Romney… or even particularly liked the idea of him as president; that those voters dislike of Obama would cause them to vote for Romney, to get Obama out of office.

They didn’t.

Instead, they just didn’t vote.

Polls showed a large independent break for Romney. up to 20%

But the turnout models were wrong, and the likely voter models were wrong. Romney only ended up with a 5% advantage among independents.

Those 15% ?

They just decided not to vote.

In fact, not only did both Romney AND Obama get less votes than 2008… they also both got less than their counterparts in 2004.

Absolute turnout hasn’t been this low since 2000, when the country had 35 million fewer people in it.

As a percentage, turnout hasn’t been this bad since 1948.

Yes, seriously, we haven’t had turnout this bad in 64 years.

So, where did Romney lose support from McCain?

Actually, in most demographic categories, Romney gained support over McCain as a percentage… But in a few critical groups, he lost substantially:

Fiscal conservatives (more than 10% loss)

Libertarians (more than 20% loss)

Latinos (Romney lost 6%, Obama gained 3%, 3% less voted)

Asians (Romney lost 9%, Obama gained 11%, 2% more voted)

The elderly (Romney lost 3%, Obama picked up 1%, 2% less voted)

He also lost HUGE on “shares my values” (over 10%), and “cares about people like me” (over 6%).

Basically, Romney was successfully portrayed as an uncaring and detached rich guy to “centrists” and “independents”; and he actually IS a big government Republican, which other independents, fiscal conservatives, and libertarians didn’t want to vote for.

The Republican party (and most everyone else for that matter) simply assumed that by choosing Romney as their nominee, people would vote for him as the lesser of two evils…

They didn’t.

Instead, they just didn’t vote.

What were we tellling ourselves in the runup to the election: Oh, that’s right, that for a lot of voters, the choice was either Romney or not voting at all. Apparently, though, back in the real world, voters thought the choice was either Obama or not voting at all.

Voir aussi:

Turnout Shaping Up to Be Lower Than 2008

Josh Lederman

November 7, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — A drop in voter turnout in Tuesday’s election didn’t keep President Barack Obama from winning a second term in the White House.

Preliminary figures suggest fewer people voted this year than four years ago, when voters shattered turnout records as they elected Obama to his first term.

In most states, the numbers are shaping up to be even lower than in 2004, said Curtis Gans, the director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Still, the full picture may not be known for weeks, because much of the counting takes place after Election Day.

"By and large, people didn’t show up," Gans said.

In Texas, turnout for the presidential race dropped almost 11 percent from 2008. Vermont and South Carolina saw declines that were almost as large. The drop-off was more than 7 percent in Maryland, where voters approved a ballot measure allowing gay marriage.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press figures showed more than 117 million people had voted in the White House race, but that number will go up as more votes are counted. In 2008, 131 million people voted, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Experts calculate turnout in different ways based on who they consider eligible voters. A separate, preliminary estimate from George Mason University’s Michael McDonald put the 2012 turnout rate at 60 percent of eligible voters. That figure was expected to be revised as more precincts reported and absentee votes were counted.

The biggest plunge by far, according to the American University analysis, came in Eastern Seaboard states still reeling from the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, which wiped out power for millions and disrupted usual voting routines. Fifteen percent fewer voters cast ballots in New York this year than in 2008. In New Jersey, it was almost 12 percent. The gap in New Jersey could narrow in the coming days because elections officials have given displaced residents in some areas until Friday to cast special email ballots.

Best efforts be darned, making it to the polls in the wake of Sandy may have simply been too much for some affected voters. In Hoboken, N.J., Anthony Morrone said he’s never missed a vote — until now.

"No time, no time to vote, too much to do," said Morrone, 76, as he surveyed the exterior of his home: a pile of junked refrigerators, a car destroyed by flooding and a curbside mountain of waterlogged debris.

In other areas not affected by the storm, a host of factors could have contributed to waning voter enthusiasm, Gans said. The 2012 race was one of the nastiest in recent memory, leaving many voters feeling turned off.

With Democrats weary from a difficult four years and Republicans splintered by a divisive primary, neither party was particularly enthused about their own candidate. Stricter voting restrictions adopted by many states may also have kept some voters away from the polls.

"Beyond the people with passion, we have a disengaged electorate," Gans said. "This was a very tight race, there were serious things to be decided."

Decided they were — by the millions of voters who, in many cases, braved all kinds of inconveniences to make sure their voices were heard.

Some voters in South Carolina’s Richland County waited more than four hours to cast their votes, and leaders from both parties blamed the delays on broken voting machines. Officials in Virginia and New Hampshire reported many voters were still waiting to vote when polls closed in the evening. In major battleground states like Ohio and Florida, lines snaked back and forth as voters waited patiently to cast their ballots.

"I’ve been waiting for four years to cast this vote," said Robert Dan Perry, 64, as he cast his vote for Romney in Zebulon, N.C.

Both Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made voter turnout a top priority in the waning days of an intensely close race. But for months leading up to Election Day, both candidates were obsessed with that tiny sliver of undecided voters.

It may be that those who were still undecided Tuesday decided just not to show up, said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

"Everyone was talking about how the Democrats are unenthusiastic and the Republicans are fired up," Kondik said. "It sounds like that was all talk."

One bright spot in this year’s voting was the number of early and mail-in ballots cast. Before polls opened on Election Day, more than 32 million people had voted, either by mail or in person, in 34 states and the District of Columbia. In a number of states, including Iowa, Maryland and Montana, early voting appeared to far exceed totals from 2008.

___

Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Zebulon, N.C., and Samantha Henry in Hoboken, N.J., contributed to this report.

Voir encore:

Fox News Conservatives Lose Credibility

Cliff Kincaid

Fox news

November 7, 2012

Although Republican Mitt Romney lost an easily winnable election, many conservative commentators and analysts took a beating as well. They were determined to believe that Romney would win no matter what Obama threw at him. They underestimated the aggressive nature of the Obama political machine and its ability to exploit economic, class, and cultural divisions in society for political gain.

Except for Juan Williams, the liberal Fox News commentator who predicted an Obama win, the personalities on Fox News were wildly off the mark in their predictions for the election. Karl Rove, Fred Barnes, Michael Barone and Dick Morris had all predicted a Romney win. Generally speaking, they thought Republicans were more excited about Romney than Democrats were about Obama. This turned out to be a fatal miscalculation.

One of the obvious and immediate conclusions is that Romney failed to get enough of the social conservative vote. Exit polls show Obama getting more of the Catholic vote, 50 percent, than Romney, who got 48 percent. Catholics make up approximately one in four U.S. voters.

Although Catholic leaders were emphasizing the themes of “life and liberty,” a reference to Catholic teachings being challenged by the Obama Administration’s pro-abortion mandates, Romney largely avoided the issue during the campaign. It was a strange omission. Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said, “The collision course of the Obama Administration with the Catholic Church could have been averted yesterday, but now it is assured instead.”

In Maryland, a very liberal state, gay marriage won, but 47 percent voted against it. That was ten points more people than voted for Romney in Maryland. He lost the state 61-37 percent. Again, reflecting his aversion to social issues, Romney stayed out of the controversy, preferring to run a campaign based almost exclusively on economics.

On the matter of the numbers alone, Juan Williams had predicted Obama winning with 298 Electoral College votes to Romney-Ryan’s 240. The total now looks like 303-206 for Obama, though the figure is likely to rise to 332 for Obama.

On November 5, Rove, who raised $330 million for Romney, had predicted Romney winning with 285 Electoral College votes and Obama losing with 253. He said at the time that he believed that Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were “in play and very winnable” for Romney. “If crowds at his recent stops in these states are any indication of his supporters’ enthusiasm, Mr. Romney will likely be able to claim victory in these states as well,” he added.

In fact, Obama beat Romney by six points in Nevada, seven points in Wisconsin, and five points in Pennsylvania.

“The tie in the polls goes to the challenger,” Fred Barnes had said, in a Weekly Standard article headlined, “Why Romney Will Win.” He explained, “The Obama get-out-the-vote drive (GOTV) is not quite the powerful juggernaut it was in 2008 and the Republican effort is far better than four years ago.”

Barone, the anchor of Fox News election coverage, had predicted Romney winning 315 Electoral College votes and Obama only 223. “Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That’s bad news for Barack Obama… most voters oppose Obama’s major policies and consider unsatisfactory the very sluggish economic recovery.”

In this Fox News video, Barone, who is also the senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, talked about a possible “hidden vote” that could lead to a Romney landslide. He said the polls showing an Obama edge were characterized by a “systemic problem” of failing to reach the actual electorate.

Morris’s prediction was Romney 325, Obama 213. “That’s right,” Morris said. “A landslide for Romney approaching the magnitude of Obama’s against McCain.” Obama beat McCain 53-46 percent.

In this video of a Morris appearance on the Fox News Greta Van Susteren show, Morris explained why he believes Mitt Romney could decisively defeat Obama and seal his fate as a one-term president. Morris said, “In the popular vote, he [Romney] is going to win by more than five points.” He said he came to this conclusion through an analysis of how the polls were overestimating Democratic turnout. “You have me back on the show,” Morris said. “You hold me accountable.”

He left no room for debate. “I’ve done this for a living,” he said, emphasizing his credentials as a political analyst.

On radio, Rush Limbaugh was convinced that more Republicans would vote for Romney in 2012 than voted for McCain in 2008, thus propelling Romney to victory over Obama. Limbaugh also emphasized that Romney was getting huge crowds at his rallies and that early voting for Romney was up. He said, “…my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this—factoring everything I see plus the polling data—it’s not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.”

In fact, Romney got only 48 percent of the vote, just two points over McCain’s total in 2008. Romney lost his home state of Massachusetts by 61-37 percent and Wisconsin, which is Paul Ryan’s home state, by 53-46.

In the end, prominent conservative news personalities made major miscalculations about where the election was heading and the nature of the two candidates and their campaigns. As Dick Morris says, they should be held accountable.

Voir enfin:

The Case of the Missing White Voters

Sean Trende

Real Clear politics

November 8, 2012

One of the more intriguing narratives for election 2012 was proposed by political scientist Brendan Nyhan fairly early on: that it was "Bizarro 2004." The parallels to that year certainly were eerie: An incumbent adored by his base but with middling approval ratings nationally faces off against an uncharismatic, wishy-washy official from Massachusetts. The race is tight during the summer until the president breaks open a significant lead after his convention. Then, after a tepid first debate for the incumbent, the contest tightens, bringing the opposition tantalizingly close to a win, but not quite close enough.

The Election Day returns actually continued the similarities. George W. Bush won by 2.4 percent of the popular vote, which is probably about what Obama’s victory margin will be once all the ballots are counted. Republicans in 2004 won some surprising Senate seats, and picked up a handful of House seats as well. The GOP was cheered, claiming a broad mandate as a result of voters’ decision to ratify clear, unified Republican control of Congress and the presidency for the first time since 1928. As Bush famously put it, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.”

Democrats, like Republicans today, were despondent. Aside from having a president they loathed in the White House for four more years, they were terrified by what seemed to be an emerging Republican majority. John Kerry had, after all, hit all of his turnout targets, only to be swamped by the Republican re-election effort. “Values voters” was the catchphrase, and an inordinate number of keystrokes were expended trying to figure out how, as Howard Dean had memorably put it before the election, Democrats could reconnect with “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

For Republicans, that despair now comes from an electorate that seems to have undergone a sea change. In the 2008 final exit polls (unavailable online), the electorate was 75 percent white, 12.2 percent African-American, 8.4 percent Latino, with 4.5 percent distributed to other ethnicities. We’ll have to wait for this year’s absolute final exit polls to come in to know the exact estimate of the composition this time, but right now it appears to be pegged at about 72 percent white, 13 percent black, 10 percent Latino and 5 percent “other.”

Obviously, this surge in the non-white vote is troubling to Republicans, who are increasingly almost as reliant upon the white vote to win as Democrats are on the non-white vote. With the white vote decreasing as a share of the electorate over time, it becomes harder and harder for Republicans to prevail.

This supposed surge in minority voting has sparked discussions about the GOP’s renewed need to draw in minority voters, especially Latinos, usually by agreeing to comprehensive immigration reform. Continuing the “Bizarro 2004” theme, Democrats are encouraging the GOP to move leftward, just as the 2004 GOP insisted that Democrats needed to abandon their opposition to the Iraq War, adopt less liberal economics, and shift more to the right on social issues in order to win.

Setting aside completely the sometimes-considerable merits of various immigration reform measures, I think these analyses are off base. First, there are real questions about the degree to which immigration policies — rather than deeper issues such as income and ideology — drive the rift between the GOP and Latinos. Remember, passage of Simpson-Mazzoli in 1986 was actually followed two years later by one of the worst GOP showings among Latinos in recent history.

Moreover, the simple fact is that the Democrats aren’t going to readily let Republicans get to their left on the issue in an attempt to poach an increasing portion of the Democratic base. If the GOP embraces things such as the DREAM Act, the Democrats can always up the ante. There are plenty of other issues on which Latinos agree with the GOP, but at a bare minimum the party will have to learn to sharply change its rhetoric on immigration before it can credibly make the case for these policies.

But most importantly, the 2012 elections actually weren’t about a demographic explosion with non-white voters. Instead, they were about a large group of white voters not showing up.

As of this writing, Barack Obama has received a bit more than 60 million votes. Mitt Romney has received 57 million votes. Although the gap between Republicans and Democrats has closed considerably since 2008, Romney is still running about 2.5 million votes behind John McCain; the gap has closed simply because Obama is running about 9 million votes behind his 2008 totals.

Of course, there are an unknown number of ballots outstanding. If we guesstimate the total at 7 million (3 million in California, 1.5 million or so in Oregon and Washington, and another 2.5 million or so spread throughout the country), that would bring the total number of votes cast in 2012 to about 125 million: 5 million votes shy of the number cast four years ago.

With this base line, and armed with the exit-poll data, we can get a pretty good estimate of how many whites, blacks, and Latinos cast ballots in both 2008 and 2012. Assuming the 72/13/10/5 percentage split described above for 2012, that would equate to about 91.6 million votes cast by whites, 16.6 million by blacks, 12.7 million by Latinos, with the balance of 6.3 million votes spread among other groups.

Compare this with 2008, when the numbers were 98.6 million whites, 16.3 million blacks, 11 million Latinos, and 5.9 million from other groups.

In other words, if our underlying assumption — that there are 7 million votes outstanding — is correct, then the African-American vote only increased by about 300,000 votes, or 0.2 percent, from 2008 to 2012. The Latino vote increased by a healthier 1.7 million votes, while the “other” category increased by about 470,000 votes.

This is nothing to sneeze at, but in terms of the effect on the electorate, it is dwarfed by the decline in the number of whites. Again, if our assumption about the total number of votes cast is correct, almost 7 million fewer whites voted in 2012 than in 2008. This isn’t readily explainable by demographic shifts either; although whites are declining as a share of the voting-age population, their raw numbers are not.

Moreover, we should have expected these populations to increase on their own, as a result of overall population growth. If we build in an estimate for the growth of the various voting-age populations over the past four years and assume 55 percent voter turnout, we find ourselves with about 8 million fewer white voters than we would expect given turnout in the 2008 elections and population growth.

Had the same number of white voters cast ballots in 2012 as did in 2008, the 2012 electorate would have been about 74 percent white, 12 percent black, and 9 percent Latino (the same result occurs if you build in expectations for population growth among all these groups). In other words, the reason this electorate looked so different from the 2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home. The other groups increased their vote, but by less than we would have expected simply from population growth.

Put another way: The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator.

So who were these whites and why did they stay home? My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations.

So instead, I looked at my current home state of Ohio, which has counted almost all of its votes (absentees are counted first here). The following map shows how turnout presently stands relative to 2008. The brightest red counties met or exceeded 2008 turnout. Each gradation of lighter red represents a 1 percent drop in the percentage of votes cast from 2008. Blue counties are at less than 90 percent of the 2008 vote.

We can see that the counties clustered around Columbus in the center of the state turned out in full force, as did the suburban counties near Cincinnati in the southwest. These heavily Republican counties are the growing areas of the state, filled with white-collar workers.

Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years.

My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home.

We’ll have a better sense of how this holds up when the final exit-poll data is released, and we can generate some very detailed crosstabs. And it may be that my estimate of the number of votes outstanding is low, though I think it is more likely to be high.

Of course, none of this is intended to place any sort of asterisk on Obama’s win: Some of these missing voters might well have voted for him had they opted to participate in the election. Moreover, there are still huge reservoirs of African-Americans and Latinos who don’t register and vote every election. Elections are decided on who shows up, not on who might have shown up.

But in terms of interpreting elections, and analyzing the future, the substantial drop-off in the white vote is a significant data point. Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party).

//

Sean Trende is Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at strende@realclearpolitics.com.


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