Monday, August 9, 2010

A Special Place in Hell / The United States of Crazy in Israel-Palestine

A Special Place in Hell / The United States of Crazy in Israel-Palestine - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Protesters at weekly demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah
SHEIKH JARRAH, East Jerusalem – You have to have a key to play in the tiger cage.
Protesters at a weekly demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah in April, 2010.
Photo by: Emil Salman

And if you're not Jewish, you can’t have a key.

And the beast in question is not in the cage, but in the tension that weights the faces of the settlers, their children, the Israeli police and border guards and riot officers who keep the Arab residents of the neighborhood at a distance, and the Arab children who - under the strictly enforced and entirely arbitrary bylaws of this Jewish colony which marries ancient ritual, manifest destiny, and science fiction - cannot enter the cage to play.
There's a reason why Israel's New Left is being born in this neighborhood of the city's largely Palestinian eastern half. There's a reason why the two-state division may well be spurred by this place. There's a reason why the demonstrations only grow in strength and impact, week after week after week. The reason is the extremism and the delusional reasoning of the settlement enterprise here, a reductio ad absurdum so exquisite, so cryingly self-defeating, that the Palestinian national movement should have thought of it years ago.
Settlers here have simply applied the Palestinian Right of Return to themselves. Hoping for – and winning – a court ruling that could have been handed down by a bizarro Ismail Haniyeh, they argued that if Jews lived in homes here before Israel's creation in 1948, Jews should be able to return to those homes.
As fate would have it, many of the Palestinians expelled from their homes a year ago to make way for the settlers, were themselves driven from their original residences in predominately Jewish West Jerusalem by the 1948 war.
The settlers' tiny archipelago of settlement in Sheikh Jarrah, a speck in relation to most West Bank settler enclaves and even to many illegal outposts, has thus managed to call into question the basic underpinnings of Zionism itself. It gives new meaning to the settlers' old and, at the time, markedly unsuccessful motto, Yesha Zeh Kahn ["The West Bank Is Here", which is to say, all of Israel has the same status as the West Bank].
But it suggests something else as well. It suggests that for the true Messianist, a status which encompasses all the ultra-Othodox and a growing segment of the "Knitted Kipot" [also called Modern or National Orthodox] community, Post-Zionism is Here.
Is it only coincidence that Haredi youth are increasingly drawn to pro-settlement activism and Knitted Kippa youth are increasingly drawn to ultra-Orthodox observance?
What matters, at root, is that whatever mess is made by wanton settlement, disproportionate military actions with attendant casualties among Arab non-combatants, or artful dodging of peace possibilities, the Almighty will come and clean up the mess.
What matters, under this worldview, is that the rabbinical establishment wield deepening and widening control over the affairs of daily life for the Israeli population, from diplomacy to matrimony, from marriage eligibility to citizenship eligibility, from deportation of non-Jews to demonizing pro-democracy groups, from ruling out peace concessions to disqualifying foreign conversions.
The consequences for the State of Israel, in this approach, are secondary. In fact, carried to its logical extreme, under this approach, the existence of a State of Israel is secondary.
If what really matters is rabbinical control of daily life and the sanctity of leaving settlements where they are, the answer is obvious: Leave everything to the Haredim, the Kahanists, and Hamas. Many of the Haredim are ambivalent about the idea of a Jewish state. Some are overtly opposed, even hostile. For many settlers, the trauma and sense of betrayal caused by the abrupt withdrawal from Gaza has shifted their focus from the primacy of the state to the necessity of settlement.
In their goals and in their view of governance, Hamas, Kahanists and Haredim have much in common. Why not just let things go on the way they are?
Let go and let God.
Who needs democracy when you can have an enormous archipelago of tiger cages where just Jews can play? Why not simply leave everything to the mega-pious? The United States of Jerusalem, the United States of Crazy, a holy land of cantons where everyone can declare independence and live out his or her personal End of Days ideal.
A Bantustan for everyone and everyone in their own.
Before we decided finally to let this play out, however, it would be worth everyone's while to recall that End of Days movements, just like the revolutions that they actually are, tend to go gray and turn irrelevant.
And while waiting for the Messiah to sort out the United States of Jerusalem, there's still room on that street corner in Sheikh Jarrah, where on a clear day, you can actually see a future.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

9 mercs killed in Afghanistan

9 mercs killed in Afghanistan

At least nine members of a private security firm have been killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan, local Afghan officials say.

The bomb blast damaged a car carrying security firm workers in the village of Asmar in Kunar province late on Thursday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Local officials said the nine people killed were working for a road construction company.

No further details on the nationality of the security guards who were killed have been disclosed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, a spokesman for the militant group said in a statement.

Mercenaries of the infamous private security firm Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, have contracts to provide security in Afghanistan, but the private security firm that employed the nine men has not been identified.

In the June 4 edition of The Wall Street Journal, it was reported that Xe's most recent government contract tasked the group with protecting CIA bases in Afghanistan.

The report was confirmed at the end of June by Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta during a TV interview, the newspaper wrote.

Blackwater/Xe mercs were hated by the Iraqis during their time in that country because they were able to kill many civilians with impunity.

Over the past few months, public opinion has been turning against the war in the United States and other countries, and thus US President Barack Obama's upbeat assessments about progress in the Afghan war will probably not go down well at home or abroad.

The death toll for US service members stationed in Afghanistan reached 66 for the month of July 2010, making it the deadliest month for US troops deployed in the Central Asian nation since the conflict began in October 2001.

Beck and Stossel imagine rosy world of private military contractors with no civilian deaths

Beck and Stossel imagine rosy world of private military contractors with no civilian deaths | Media Matters for America

Glenn Beck hosted staunchly libertarian Fox Business host John Stossel to discuss the idea of using private contractors to wage war instead of military personnel. From the August 5 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: What is the closest you came to saying, well, maybe the government should do this?

STOSSEL: Well, I always assumed that fighting wars was a job for government. You didn't want to trust that to a profit-seeking enterprise. But, you know, you've sort of moved my head about that a bit and that if you have a bunch of private contractors like Blackwater going to work and they do it so much more efficiently - the CBO says that it takes three government workers to replace one Halliburton worker, that, you know, maybe they would fight wars better, and if we didn't like what they were doing we could fire them. You can't fire the government, but contractors compete.

BECK: It would be great to say that these guys are private contractors and the war is dragging on, the war is dragging on and being able to have the president say we're getting a new contractor. Because they'll finish the job. They'll finish the job. And you can also hold them responsible for everything. The problem with government is you can never actually hold these people responsible for everything.

STOSSEL: And people will say, "Are you kidding me? A private, for-profit company fighting a war? They'll just kill all sorts of civilians." But they don't think ahead to the fact that this company wants to be hired again by some other country.

BECK: It's exactly right. It's like planes. The only really horribly irresponsible companies say you know we're going to chintz on the repair on the airliner because once one goes down and you've been caught chintzing on it, sure you lose 200 people which is a horrible, horrible tragedy, but the company knows you lose 200 people it's over. We're all out of business and if we really do something wrong we're going to jail.

In their enthusiasm for the idea that the free market would keep contractors from killing civilians, both Stossel and Beck ignored that defense contractor Blackwater (now rebranded Xe) did kill civilians in Iraq.

In 2007, Blackwater employees killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounded at least 20 others when, reportedly unprovoked, the security guards opened fire in a public square in Baghdad. Although the Iraqi government called the shootings "deliberate murder" and five Blackwater employees were charged with manslaughter in the U.S., the charges against all five were dropped because of problems with the case.

Not only was Blackwater not held accountable under the law, but the company remains the State Department's largest security contractor, and as late as April 2009 it continued to operate in Iraq.

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  • Author by txthinker (August 05, 2010 3:55 pm ET)
    Let's send Beck and Stossel to the front line.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by peace4all (August 05, 2010 3:59 pm ET)
    what idiots. every great military mind in history has warned against using mercenary's to fight a country's wars. but it makes sense that these two don't know that. maybe if they would pick up a real history book instead of a right wing revised edition they would learn something from the reality based world.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by neon desert (August 05, 2010 4:02 pm ET)
    From an October 2007 article in the WashPo:
    According to data provided to the House panel, the average per-day pay to personnel Blackwater hired was $600. According to the schedule of rates, supplies and services attached to the contract, Blackwater charged Regency $1,075 a day for senior managers, $945 a day for middle managers and $815 a day for operators.
    Any military personnel out there who would care to compare their per-day pay to this "efficient" private-contractor schedule?
    Report Abuse
    • Author by mattcable250650 (August 05, 2010 5:09 pm ET)
      As a 3rd Class Petty Officer (E-4, equivalent to an Army Corporal) back in 2000, I pulled in about $22,000 annually, which works out to around $61 per day or about 1/10th of what a Xe employee makes. Private contractors do not have many privileges that military personnel do, like official medals for bravery or free burials. If you were aboard a vessel, your food was free, but if you were at a shore command, you'd pay a small charge for meals.
      Yeah, I'd be very interested to see how ther charges were calculated.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by magnolialover (August 06, 2010 8:15 am ET)
        Remember, that is what Blackwater charged, not necessarily what their employees received.
        Report Abuse
  • Author by hashadenough (August 05, 2010 4:03 pm ET)
    Gosh Glenn, I seem to remember the "founding fathers" that you so worship rather disliking a bunch of hired soldiers. Something about them mistreating colonial civilians and ransacking American property. Hessians, or something, I think they were called...
    Report Abuse
    • Author by progressivevoicedaily (August 05, 2010 4:12 pm ET)
      Imagine that, Glenda not knowing the facts or the history.
      Report Abuse
  • Author by soze169880 (August 05, 2010 4:05 pm ET)
    I guess this is how the right "supports the troops" now-- by wanting them to lose their jobs to a bunch of kill-crazy mercenaries.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by raddave43 (August 05, 2010 4:08 pm ET)
    Stossel says " You can't fire the government, but contractors compete." I guess he didn't hear about the no-bid contracts that these companies got and were continually renewed.

    Somehow I doubt that one Haliburton employee can do the job of three Government employee. When I was in Iraq there seemed to be about 2 or 3 Haliburton employee sitting on his arse while one was actually working.
    Report Abuse
    • Author by nerzog (August 05, 2010 4:16 pm ET)
      This might be a good time for everyone to watch Iraq for Sale. Among other things, it details how private contractors charged us $100 per load to do laundry, a duty which used to be performed by Armed Forces personnel.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by raddave43 (August 05, 2010 5:14 pm ET)
      I also forgot to mention that the Haliburton employees doing the manual labor were in fact people from countries like Pakistan and the Phillipines that were brought in to work cheaply.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by magnolialover (August 06, 2010 8:16 am ET)
        Which, Halliburton and others would charge huge rates, and then rake in huge profits by using super cheap labor. They're still doing it.
        Report Abuse
  • Author by progressivevoicedaily (August 05, 2010 4:08 pm ET)
    What happens when this "private war company" decides they don't like the fact that they didn't get the contract from some country?? Then they decide to act in their own interest and attack a country. These guys are out of their minds. These people and the way the think is very dangerous for this country, and humanity as a whole.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by nerzog (August 05, 2010 4:13 pm ET)
    The Troglodytes occasionally like to compare the United States to the Roman Empire, especially when it comes to things like Gay Rights. They'll try to argue that Rome fell because they all turned gay, or something like that.

    Of course, the fall of Rome was due to many overlapping, complex factors. One of these was their heavy dependance on mercenaries to defend their empire.

    I guess they don't teach that in Beck U. World History 101.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by epkklk851 (August 05, 2010 4:13 pm ET)
    I know something about government personnel and contractor practices. It isn't cheaper for the government to hire contractors, and that bit about onr Halliburton worker to three government workers probably doesn't include Halliburton's subcontractors and contractors get paid more than Federal employees and some of them have guaranteed profits, above their expenses. Look into the KBR mess last year, a local subcontractor's shoddy work led to the deaths of U.S. service members. The government spends huge sums on contracts and contract management, we can't put a man in the field without contractors to feed and shelter him. Another thing, those jobs don't have to go to Americans, they can go to foreign citizens. Federal Appropriated Funds jobs must hire U.S. citizens.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by magnolialover (August 05, 2010 4:30 pm ET)
    Mercenary outfits like Blackwater/Xe are freakin' dangerous to a well established democracy. Blackwater's "Army" is stronger and bigger, and better equipped than a lot of countries around the world.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by progressiveright (August 05, 2010 4:36 pm ET)
    The faulty dream and one of no loyalty.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by mattcable250650 (August 05, 2010 5:23 pm ET)
    The problem, which I believe Machiavelli noticed and that, of course, has not and never can be solved, is that mercenaries are all very fine and well when you need an impressive parade-ground force to overawe the other side with or when undertaking non-dangerous duties (As mercernaries have been doing for the past decade, taking on non-serious opponents in Third World countries), but when you have a Battle of the Bulge or Verdun 1916, when the enemy is attacking in great force and your guys are scrambling to hang on by their fingernails, mercenaries have absolutely no motivation to stick around. They'll suddenly decide they can get a better deal elsewhere at precisely the point when they're most desperately needed.
    Report Abuse
  • Author by IRONY 101 (August 05, 2010 5:36 pm ET)
    Kapitalist Killers...yea, baby. ;>)
    Report Abuse
  • Author by Tbone Slickens (3 hours and 56 minutes ago)
    Rolling Stone mag had an article on the then Blackwater in Sept '04. It was mainly about one of their operative Walt Weiss I think it was but at the end of the article they pointed out that when the USSD traveled out of the Green Zone it was Blackwater that they requested. I imagine nothing has changed much in that respect.

    Don't bite the hand too hard that protects you.

Murdered doctor was a 'true hero'

Taliban claims responsibility for killing foreigners

The Hindu : International : Taliban claims responsibility for killing foreigners: "Gulbudin Hekmatyar"

DUBAI: The Taliban has claimed that it has killed eight foreigners and their two Afghan interpreters for spreading Christianity.

“These people were preaching Christianity and we punished them,” a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted as saying.

He added that a number of books and documents found on them proved that they were involved in preaching Christianity.

Provincial police chief Aqa Noor Kintoz said the killings took place in Karan-o-Manjan district of Badakshan province in northern Afghanistan, and the bodies were found on Friday.

The Islamic Party (Hizb-e-Islami), a radical group commanded by the former Prime Minister, Gulbudin Hekmatyar, also claimed responsibility for the attack.

It is likely that the victims belonged to the International Assistance Mission (I.A.M.), an organisation that has been functional in Afghanistan since 1966. The organisation said it was likely that the dead were members of its eye care team.

The Associated Press quoted Dirk Frans, director of the I.A.M. as saying that six Americans, one German, one Briton and two Afghans were part of the team. Mr. Frans said the I.A.M. had been registered as a non-profit Christian organisation, which did not engage in proselytising.

The American embassy said: “We have reason to believe that several American citizens are among the deceased. We cannot confirm any details at this point, but are actively working with local authorities to learn more about the identities and nationalities of these individuals.”

Karzai is talking to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (again)

Karzai is talking to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (again) - The Majlis

A delegation from Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami is in Kabul this week meeting with Afghan leaders, including president Hamid Karzai. Pajhwok dubs these "covert" peace talks -- suggesting that the government is worried about the public reaction.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

The Hezb-i-Islami delegation presented a 15-point plan to Karzai; one of the points calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan over a six-month period beginning in July. Other conditions include "the independence of the country and a lasting peace." The full 15-point plan hasn't been made public, but presumably it includes some kind of governmental role for Gulbuddin himself.

"I can confirm that a delegation of Hezb-i-Islami ... is in Kabul with a plan and has met with the president," Waheed Omar, a spokesman for Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said.

Haroun Zarghoun, a spokesman for the party, said the delegation might also meet with U.S. officials -- but the U.S. embassy in Kabul says there won't be any talks.

Hekmatyar's gestures towards the Karzai government aren't surprising: Karzai is under a lot of international pressure to accelerate his reconciliation talks with the Taliban, and Hekmatyar sees that as a tactical opening. What's surprising is that anyone is placing much stock in this dialogue. Consider this line from the Washington Post:

As U.S. and NATO officials revamp their strategy in Afghanistan, a renegade Afghan commander could prove central to U.S. plans to rein in the insurgency through negotiations.

This sentence sums up today's thinking -- but it was actually written in November 2008. Needless to say, Hekmatyar hasn't suddenly become a constructive force over the last 18 months. His militia is still killing people; he still hasn't agreed to any reconciliation deal with Kabul (a deal which few Afghans would welcome, honestly).

Negotiations between Kabul and Hemkatyar have been going on for years. They haven't accomplished much.

Christian Support for Obama Declines

The Barna Group - Christian Support for Obama Declines

Christian Support for Obama Declines

Barack Obama was swept into office on a wave of hopes and dreams founded on his promises of a better life and a more competent government. With this first year in office now behind him, many Americans are considerably less enthusiastic about his performance than expected. A new survey conducted by The Barna Group shows that Christians, who formed a large segment of his support, are even less enthralled with the president’s handling of the job than are other Americans.

In the 2008 election, 42% of all born again adults voted for Barack Obama. The born again vote represented 40% of his aggregate support in the general election.

Job Satisfaction
Most Americans are not satisfied with the job the president is doing. Currently, just 42% are either completely satisfied (15%) or somewhat satisfied (27%). One-quarter of adults (24%) are divided, saying they are “somewhat satisfied and somewhat dissatisfied.” The remaining 30% are either “mostly dissatisfied (13%) or “somewhat dissatisfied” (17%). Only a few (4%) don’t know how to assess the president’s job performance.

The picture is less rosy when looking at the ratings given to the president by committed Christians. Among evangelicals, only 18% are satisfied (just 6% are “completely satisfied”) while 69% are dissatisfied (including 38% who are “completely dissatisfied”). Among all born again Christians – one-fifth of whom are evangelicals and four-fifths of whom are not – the ratings are not quite as scathing, but are notably worse than those provided by non-Christian adults: 35% are satisfied and 36% are dissatisfied. Among adults who are not born again the president fares much better, with such people twice as likely to be satisfied as dissatisfied (48% satisfied, 24% are not).

When political affiliations and faith commitments are merged, the numbers are also quite diverse. A majority of registered Republicans (55%) are born again. Among them, only 9% are satisfied with President Obama’s performance to date, compared to 67% who are not. That rating is slightly less positive than the 15% satisfaction and 58% dissatisfaction found among Republicans who are not born again.

The picture is decidedly different among Democrats, among whom 47% are born again. Among born again Democrats, President Obama has satisfied 62% and dissatisfied 10%. That is not quite as upbeat a view as held by Democrats who are not born again, 76% of whom are satisfied and 8% of whom are dissatisfied.

Independent voters are notably less pleased with the president, regardless of their faith leanings. Thirty-seven percent are born again, the lowest proportion of born again adults found among the three partisan affiliations. Among the born again Independents, 25% are satisfied and 38% dissatisfied. Among the Independents who are not born again, 44% are satisfied and 21% are dissatisfied.

Ideological Consistency
Two-thirds of all American adults feel that the president has conformed to their ideological expectations of him. Among those who feel he is different than expected, they are twice as likely to say he has been more liberal than expected (21%) than to say he is more conservative than anticipated (10%).

Mr. Obama has been especially surprising to evangelicals (25% said he is more liberal than expected, 4% said more conservative) and born again adults (24% vs. 9%, respectively). Catholics were about equally likely to be surprised by his liberal leanings as by his conservative tendencies (16% more liberal, 14% more conservative) than were Protestants, who were three times more likely to see the president as more liberal than expected than to consider his performance more conservative than they foresaw (23% more liberal, 8% more conservative).

People who are not associated with the Christian faith had varying views on this matter. For instance, people who belong to a non-Christian faith group were about evenly divided as to whether the president is more liberal than expected (14%) or more conservative than expected (12%). Atheists and agnostics, however, were more likely to say he has been more conservative (23%) than more liberal (15%) in relation to their expectations.

Specific Performance Ratings
In filling one of the most demanding and complex jobs on earth, the president addresses numerous areas of governance. The Barna survey explored people’s ratings of Mr. Obama’s performance in seven of those areas.

Most Americans believe the president’s top priority should be the restoration of the national economy. In this area just 42% are satisfied with the president’s efforts to date. Satisfaction was registered among just 26% of evangelicals, 38% of all born again Christians, and 46% of adults who are not born again. Catholics were marginally more satisfied (43%) than were Protestants (39%). Born again Democrats were among the president’s biggest supporters of his economic performance, with 63% satisfied. In contrast, only 15% of born again Republicans and 32% of born again Independents were satisfied.

The standout dimension of the president’s efforts relates to the environment, where a majority of Americans (58%) are satisfied with the president’s work. While evangelicals are among his biggest critics on environmental matters (only 40% were satisfied), a majority of all born again (55%) as well as non-born again adults (60%) are satisfied. The partisan divide was as big as ever in this dimension, with just 31% of born again Republicans, 51% of born again Independents, and 73% of born again Democrats approving of the president’s work in this area.

About half of the nation (52%) believes the chief executive has done a satisfactory job of fighting terrorism. That includes only one-quarter of evangelicals (27%), slightly less than half of all born again Christians (47%) and a slight majority of non-born again adults (55%). Two-thirds of born again Democrats (67%), less than half of born again Independents (44%) and barely one-fourth of born again Republicans gave Mr. Obama the thumbs up in this area.

In each of the other four dimensions of job performance that were measured in the Barna study a minority of the public was satisfied with the president’s efforts.

Forty-seven percent are satisfied with his tax policies and activities. Not surprisingly, he fared best among non-born again adults (51%), less well among all born again individuals (43%), and worst among evangelicals (24%). Seven out of ten born again Democrats approved of his taxation efforts, which was double his approval rating in this area among born again Independents (33%) and nearly five times the approval score awarded by born again Republicans.

  • Forty-six percent are pleased with how the president has handled the war in the Middle East. Born again (44%) and non-born again adults (48%) straddled the national average, while evangelicals were far less satisfied (30%). A majority of both born again Democrats (64%) and born again Independents (51%) were satisfied, but just one-quarter of born again Republicans (25%) joined them.
  • The president’s campaign promises included plans to reform the political system and restore civility and bipartisan cooperation to the process. Most Americans do not believe he has delivered on that promise yet. Only 43% are satisfied with what he has done to improve the political system, which includes 47% of non-born again adults, 38% of all born agains, and 21% of evangelicals. Feelings on this matter run especially strong along party lines, with Democrats his only significant support base. Fifty-eight percent of born again Democrats approved of his job in improving the political system, compared to only 25% among born again Independents and 15% among born again Republicans.
  • The president’s major initiative during his first year in office failed to impress most Americans. Just 40% said they are satisfied with his work related to the health care system. This ranged from 46% of non-born again people who approved his job, to 33% among all born again individuals, and just 12% of evangelicals. While a small majority of born again Democrats (56%) approved his health care efforts, less than half as many born again Independents concurred (26%), and a mere 7% of born again Republicans indicated their satisfaction in this area.

The survey also revealed several consistent patterns. Non-whites were more supportive of the president’s results during his first year than were whites by an average of 21 percentage points. Downscale adults were typically more supportive than were upscale adults, except in the area of dealing with terrorism. Pre-Boomers (i.e. adults under 45) were invariably more supportive than were adults 45 or older. Single adults – those who have never been married as well as those who were presently divorced or widowed – were an average of 22 points more likely to express satisfaction with the president’s performance in these areas.

The study also found that Protestants and Catholics were generally similar in their views on these matters.

Americans Want It Now
The study suggests that many Americans may be losing their patience with President Obama. While most people recognize the complexities of the job, they have high expectations of their leader and have been generally disappointed during the first year of the Obama administration. Historically it is clear that legislative victories or other public relations efforts are capable of shifting people’s perceptions in a short period of time. However, with the mid-term elections on the horizon and the very real possibility of a significant number of Democratic seats being lost in Congress this November, the president’s sagging image or campaign presence may not be the boon for which many Democratic candidates had hoped.

The Barna data point out that at this stage of Mr. Obama’s tenure, party affiliation is a stronger predictor of people’s perceptions of his performance than is their faith commitment. At the same time, it appears that many committed Christians who were supportive of Mr. Obama during the election campaign are substantially less supportive of him today.
About the Research
This Barna Update is based upon a nationwide tracking study, called OmniPollSM, conducted by The Barna Group. The telephone interviews were derived from a random sample of 1,005 adults selected from across the continental United States, age 18 and older, from February 7 - 10, 2010. Interviews were conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the aggregate sample to known population percentages in relation to several key demographic variables.

"Born again Christians" are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents are not asked to describe themselves as "born again."

"Evangelicals" meet the born again criteria (described above) plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as "evangelical."

"Downscale" individuals are those whose annual household income is less than $20,000 and who have not attended college. "Upscale" people are those whose annual household income is $75,000 or more and who have graduated from a four-year college.

The Barna Group (which includes its research division, The Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research on a wide range of issues and products, produces resources pertaining to cultural change, leadership and spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-monthly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website ( Additional research-based resources, both free and at discounted prices, are also available through that website.