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Will Republicans Squander Historic Lead on Key Issues?
GOP at historic highs for economy, national security
The two major political parties remain unpopular in the U.S., with 56% of Americans viewing the Republican Party unfavorably and 58% saying the same of the Democratic Party.
Although both parties are about equally disliked, the public chooses the Republican Party over the Democratic Party by healthy margins when asked which will better safeguard the nation’s prosperity and security.
Fifty-three percent of Americans believe the Republican Party will do a better job of keeping the country prosperous over the next few years, whereas 39% choose the Democratic Party.
A slightly larger majority, 57%, have greater faith in the Republican Party to protect the country from international terrorism and military threats, while 35% favor the Democrats.
The latest results are from a Sept. 1-23 Gallup poll in which more than eight in 10 Americans disapprove of the job the politically divided Congress is doing, close to six in 10 disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance, and nearly three-quarters feel pessimistic about the direction of the economy.
Republicans’ 14-percentage-point lead in public preferences for keeping the country prosperous is up from a 10-point margin last year and is its widest advantage on this measure since mid-1991. That followed a period from the mid- to late 1980s when Republicans performed unusually well on this measure, historically. However, in the past three decades, the parties have been more closely matched in perceptions of which can better maintain the nation’s economic health or the Democratic Party has led by a solid margin.
The GOP’s current standing with Americans is even stronger on matters of national security, where it leads the Democratic Party by 22 points for protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats.
The Republican Party has led on this measure in all but two readings in the trend originating in 2002, but today’s margin is one of the widest in that more limited stretch of time.
The recent poll also finds the Republican Party leading the Democrats as the party more Americans choose as better able to handle whatever problem they name as the most important facing the country. Forty-four percent say the Republican Party is better, while 36% name the Democratic Party and the rest say the parties are the same or have no preference. This is at a time when the economy, government/poor leadership and immigration lead Americans’ open-ended responses when asked to name the most important problem facing the country.
Although Republicans periodically enjoyed strong leads on this party preference measure between the 1940s and 1980s, today’s eight-point advantage for the Republicans is fairly uncommon in the context of the trend since 1992. In addition to its 11-point advantage last year, those exceptions include a seven-point lead for the GOP in 2011 and a slight edge in 2015 and 2016.
Ukraine Has Months-Worth of Funding
The Pentagon has more than $5 billion remaining in its coffers to provide weaponry and other security assistance to Ukraine even after Congress declined to include more funding for the war in a weekend bill to keep the government open, Pentagon officials said.
The $5.2 billion is roughly equivalent to the value of the weaponry the Biden administration has sent to Ukraine over the last six months for its fight against Russia, but administration officials said it is unclear how long that money could last. A number of factors contribute to the rate at which security aid flows to Kyiv, and officials believe the $5.2 billion could last only for another few months.
The sum is roughly 12% of the total $43.9 billion in security assistance that the U.S. has sent since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, leaving a sizable amount of security assistance still available.
But another pot of money the U.S. had been using for a longer-term program to refurbish Ukraine’s military and make it more compatible with North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, is empty, administration officials said.
What’s more, an account used to replenish the Defense Department’s own arsenal after the provision of U.S. arms to Ukraine is now down to about $1.6 billion—insufficient to keep the Pentagon whole, officials said.
Aid packages have typically come every two weeks, and the next could come by the end of this week, officials said. But without knowing when Congress will approve more funds, the Pentagon may be reluctant to continue providing regular tranches of new equipment in order to save money to replenish the U.S. military’s own stocks, or in case of a national security emergency, at least until Nov. 17, when the current funding bill runs out, a Senate aide said.
What Iran Bought
The Biden administration’s now-suspended Iran envoy Robert Malley helped to fund, support, and direct an Iranian intelligence operation designed to influence the United States and allied governments, according to a trove of purloined Iranian government emails. The emails, which were reported on by veteran Wall Street Journal correspondent Jay Solomon, writing in Semafor, and by Iran International, the London-based émigré opposition outlet which is the most widely read independent news source inside Iran, were published last week after being extensively verified over a period of several months by the two outlets. They showed that Malley had helped to infiltrate an Iranian agent of influence named Ariane Tabatabai into some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. government—first at the State Department and now the Pentagon, where she has been serving as chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Christopher Maier.
On Thursday, Maier told a congressional committee that the Defense Department is “actively looking into whether all law and policy was properly followed in granting my chief of staff top secret special compartmented information.”
The emails, which were exchanged over a period of several years between Iranian regime diplomats and analysts, show that Tabatabai was part of a regime propaganda unit set up in 2014 by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. The Iran Experts Initiative (IEI) tasked operatives drawn from Iranian diaspora communities to promote Iranian interests during the clerical regime’s negotiations with the United States over its nuclear weapons program. Though several of the IEI operatives and others named in the emails have sought to portray themselves on social media as having engaged with the regime in their capacity as academic experts, or in order to promote better understanding between the United States and Iran, none has questioned the veracity of the emails.
The contents of the emails are damning, showing a group of Iranian American academics being recruited by the Iranian regime, meeting together in foreign countries to receive instructions from top regime officials, and pledging their personal loyalty to the regime. They also show how these operatives used their Iranian heritage and Western academic positions to influence U.S. policy toward Iran, first as outside “experts” and then from high-level U.S. government posts. Both inside and outside of government, the efforts of members of this circle were repeatedly supported and advanced by Malley, who served as the U.S. government’s chief interlocutor with Iran under both the Obama and the Biden administrations. Malley is also the former head of the International Crisis Group (ICG), which directly paid and credentialed several key members of the regime’s influence operation.
Academics Against the Counterculture
After two decades, I have decided to relinquish my full professorship in Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London for the University of Buckingham.
Why leave such a cozy sinecure?
Birkbeck’s uncertain financial position played a role, but my departure came at the end of a 5-year period of steady hostility from radical staff and students inside and outside the university. By 2018 I had begun to voice my views more forthrightly, in the press, in social media, and in my new book on populism, Whiteshift, published by Penguin. I became publicly involved in the government’s Academic Freedom Bill, which was granted royal assent this year. Throughout, I was unsparing in my criticism of wokeness, which I define as the sacralisation of historically marginalised race, gender and sexual identity groups.
This public profile placed me in the crosshairs of a well-organised network of radical students and academics inside and outside the university who took it upon themselves to police the boundaries of acceptable debate on campus. Accordingly, I was the target of a number of Twitter pile-ons organised by student activists based in the Student Union and their online allies, calling for my ouster. An open letter denouncing me circulated online, calling on the university to fire me. In a story that made the higher education press, a young academic ideologue in my department wrote a long resignation essay, claiming I had created a hostile environment for her while suggesting that my emotionally traumatic writings forced her out of academia (in fact she had taken a job next door at SOAS).
These internal activists came together to issue several formal complaints, which, due to the nature of British universities’ policies and procedures, tends to almost always lead to internal investigations. Until you have received an email informing you that you are under investigation and must attend a tribunal, you cannot understand the psychological impact of this tactic. The spectre of unspecified penalties sets the mind racing toward the possibility of termination — this in a collegiate profession where there are hundreds of applications for each post and gossip travels fast. Once out, getting back in is near-impossible. The process is the punishment.
White Feminists New Target: Motherhood
Do you ever wish that your young children would stop asking you questions, constantly touching your body and being needy for your love and attention? That’s called being “touched out,” a new-age expression for the Extremely Online mother who can’t seem to reconcile with the idea that her life is going to be different after she has children. It’s also the title of Amanda Montei’s memoir-cum-cultural criticism on how modern motherhood in America is indistinguishable from the pervasive rape culture that permeates every aspect of a woman’s life in the country, including marriage, the workplace and yes, parenthood.
Montei’s revelations about motherhood came to her after #MeToo took off. One evening, as she was feeling “touched out” — because her toddler wanted to play and read books on her lap — she disassociated from her body by thinking about unsatisfying sexual encounters she had with various men in her twenties. She saw the “demands of modern motherhood as inseparable from the broader violence against women in the US,” with breastfeeding being a particularly “triggering” activity that reminded her of all the ways “men had used and scrutinized her body” throughout her life.
I’ll pause here for a moment so you can reflect on everything you’ve just read.
Montei’s book is a window into how women on the left have come to pathologize motherhood, driven in no small part by the desire to appeal to one of the largest and fastest growing demographics in America: childless women. This trend of describing the everyday challenges of motherhood in therapy speak is the result of more and more liberal women being diagnosed with mental health issues and seeking psychological help to make sense of their lives. Liberal women aren’t having kids and they’re miserable, and those who do decide to become mothers need to make sure their childless peers don’t feel too bad about being left in the dust.
Another book trying to “demystify” motherhood under the guise of radical honesty is Mom Rage — also a term borne out of the psychobabble of internet mom speak — about the “rage that festers beneath the shame” of being a “bad mom.” The book’s thesis was so poorly argued, even the flagship publication of bleeding-heart liberals — the New Yorker — couldn’t give it the kind of glowing review the author, Minna Dubin, was gunning for. Indeed, one of the most glaring issues with Dubin’s book is how specific the experience of having “mom rage” is to her. She claims her son suffers from “sensory-processing disorder, fine and gross motor delays, food rigidity and autism-spectrum disorder,” and how his unwillingness to cooperate with her demands around food, potty-training and crossing the street thrust her into a blinding fury that often sees her engage in physical violence towards him. This level of candor is used to showcase her family’s private moments of hardship so voyeuristic, childless women can pat themselves on the back for choosing against the hellscape that is motherhood. Motivations and ethics be damned when your book is being reviewed in the most prestigious journal in America by none other than celebrity literary critic Merve Emre.
These books are not for the vast majority of mothers out there. They’re written for the primary purpose of making sure their authors are not sidelined in the progressive circles they inhabit. They want to stay relevant, be part of the conversation about “inequities in parenting” and the “gendered misogyny” of motherhood, even if it means throwing their kids under the bus for clout with their liberal peers in influential circles who want to do away with the nuclear family. God forbid they have to settle for moving to the suburbs into a four-bedroom house with their two mid-size SUVs and live happily with their husband, 2.1 kids and dog. The horror!
Items of Interest
“I hated drug literature, which—with a few exceptions—caused anyone with a modicum of awareness to cringe. It was all, in large part, half-formed sentiment and navel-gazing drivel, seeming more to have dribbled out of the author’s mouth than been penned with any intent. Even the so-called great drug authors were undeniable hacks with no skill or insight into anything lasting or true. If there was any place in literature I did not want to stake my claim, it was among the explicitly drug-addicted—or worse, the recovered.”
— Jordan Castro