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Archive for February, 2013

Blasphemy! The Un-Churched in America are Democrats

February 11th, 2013

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Democrats don’t talk about it, but they have become the party of the unchurched in America. It’s right there in the 2012 exit poll. Asked, “Are you Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, other Christian, Jewish, Muslim, other or none?” 12% of the voters last year called themselves “None.” They voted 70% for Barack Obama.

The unchurched were about equal in number to African-American voters (13%), larger than Latinos (10%) and much larger than either Mormons or Jews (each 2%).

The reason why Democrats don’t talk about the unchurched is obvious. They don’t want to advertise themselves as “the godless party.” The United States is still a country where religion is a major force in both public and private life. That makes the U.S. unique among advanced industrial countries.

In October, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that 58% of Americans claim that religion is very important in their lives—far higher than in Britain (17%), France (13%), Germany (21%) or even Spain, once the land of the Holy Inquisition (22%). More Americans believe in God, heaven, hell, angels, Satan and the inerrant authority of the Bible than citizens of any other modern country.

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Democratic base wants compromise

February 7th, 2013

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Last November, Bob and Evelyn Driscoll waited 90 minutes in line to vote. Standing in a cold drizzle, neither of them were in love with either of the presidential candidates or their congressional representatives. But they were eager to vote because they knew the country faced immense challenges.

They believed the economy was better but still just inching along. Their take-home pay had been basically flat for the past 10 years. They worried that the deficit was standing in the way of America returning to greatness. They wondered whether Social Security and Medicare would be there for their kids — or themselves — when they needed it. And they hoped they had saved enough for retirement and for the ever-increasing cost of college for both of their children.

They stood in the cold until it was their turn to vote. They pulled the lever for the president, and for Democrats in the House and Senate. And if they were able to deliver a short message to each as we cross the threshold into Barack Obama’s second term, it would be this: “Fix it. Work together and fix it.”

The Driscolls aren’t just among a tiny slice of swing voters — they represent millions of moderate and independent voters across Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and throughout America. Most important for the president and Democrats in Congress, they represent the base of the Democratic Party.

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Fighting al Qaeda in the Post-bin Laden Era

February 6th, 2013

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This piece was originally published in U.S. News & World Report.

It’s welcome news to hear French and Malian troops have almost fully liberated northern Mali from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, and the other jihadists who turned much of the country into a neo-Taliban state. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on how to wage war against al Qaeda in the post-Osama bin Laden era.

1. Let our allies shoulder the security burden. For more than a decade, the United States has led the world’s efforts to crush al Qaeda. But let’s be honest: The United States has little experience in the vast, lawless Sahel, despite the much-ballyhooed stand-up of the Pentagon’s Africa Command a few years ago. America’s knowledge of the region remains sparse—chances are you can probably count the number of Bambara or Tuareg speakers in the U.S. government on one hand, if you lop off a few fingers.

Other allies—most notably France, but also Great Britain—know more about the region, the turf, and locals than we ever will. And remember: French and Malian soldiers are doing the fighting, the killing, and the dying. So in this fight, America should support them and provide them with assistance: reconnaissance drones, advanced munitions, refueling capacity, intelligence support—you name it.

They certainly need it. In this hot war, Paris has struggled to move men and materiel to the front lines. And Mali’s army is beset by numerous problems. But let’s not criticize our allies; now is the time to help them. After all, if we can hammer another nail into the coffin of an al Qaeda franchise, it’s certainly worth leasing France a few more C-17s.

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Seeking consensus on immigration, guns

February 4th, 2013

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Two tough issues — immigration reform and gun control. “It won’t be easy,” President Barack Obama said about gun control in December, “but that’s no excuse not to try.”   Tuesday, he said about immigration reform: “The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become.”

Which does he stand a better chance of winning?  Answer: immigration. On immigration, Obama has Democrats strongly behind him. Republicans are divided — and freaked out by the issue. On guns, he’s got Republicans strongly against him. Democrats are divided — and freaked out by the issue.

On both issues, the president has the public solidly behind him. That’s his biggest asset. “There’s already a growing consensus for us to build from,” he said on Dec. 19, five days after the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons.’’ On Jan. 29, when he went to Las Vegas to speak about immigration reform, he said, “A broad consensus is emerging and … a call for action can be heard coming from all across America.”

Even more important, the president’s popularity is soaring. He has a 60 percent favorable rating in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, the highest since his first year in office.

The president intends to use the bully pulpit to rally public opinion behind both causes. He also intends to use his 2012 campaign organization, which has morphed from Obama for America to Organizing for Action, to browbeat Congress into action. Welcome to real the permanent campaign.

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