Yes, you read that right. The Gray Lady has published an accolade of sorts to former President Donald Trump.
“I was Googling around the other day for a factoid: how many Israelis had visited the United Arab Emirates since the signing of their normalization agreement, known as the Abraham Accords. Answer: more than 130,000. Jumping Jehoshaphat, Batman! In the middle of a global pandemic, at least 130,000 Israeli tourists and investors have flown to Dubai and Abu Dhabi since commercial air travel was established in mid-October!” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman on Wednesday.
He credits Mr. Trump for “reshaping” the Middle East with the Abraham Accords, a wide-ranging U.S.-brokered peace and normalization agreement between Israel, and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The pact was formalized on Sept. 15 and has paved the way for peace deals with other Arab nations.
“I believed from the start that the openings between Israel and the U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan — forged by Jared Kushner and Donald Trump — could be game-changing. We are still in the early phase, though, and having lived through the shotgun marriage and divorce of Israelis and Lebanese Christians in the 1980s, I will wait a bit before sending wedding gifts,” Mr. Friedman continued.
“That caveat aside, something big seems to be stirring. Unlike the peace breakthroughs between Israel and Egypt, Israel and Lebanon’s Christians, and Israel and Jordan, which were driven from the top and largely confined there, the openings between Israel and the Gulf States — while initiated from the top to build an alliance against Iran — are now being driven even more from the bottom, by tourists, students and businesses,” Mr. Friedman said.
BIDEN’S BRIEF HONEYMOON ENDS
That didn’t last long — 43 days.
President Biden has been in office for a six weeks and a day, and his positive poll numbers are already eroding, says a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday that gets to the heart of the matter.
In January, a poll conducted by the university found that 51% of the respondents said the nation was on the “wrong track.” That percentage has now gone up to 61%.
Also, 54% said they approved of Mr. Biden’s job performance in January. Now it stands at 51%. And more importantly, 30% of the respondents in the earlier poll said they disapproved of Mr. Biden’s job performance. Now 42% say they disapprove.
“It’s probably not a surprise that Biden’s honeymoon period has closed quickly. He does maintain a net positive rating, but the Covid stimulus package will be the first significant test of how stable that support is,” says Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The polls were conducted Jan. 21-24 and Feb. 25-March 1; the surveys involved, respectively, 809 and 802 U.S. adults.
THE EVOLVING MASK MANDATE
The much-coveted N95 face masks were produced at the rate of 180 million masks a month in the U.S. during 2020, this according to Statista, an industry source. And that’s just the N95. Disposable masks, fashion-forward masks and homemade masks will only add to the total. But wait. Masks may not be the most important wearable in the near future.
“Is the mask dam starting to break? I think so. In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds has lifted her state’s mask mandate. In Texas, too, Governor Greg Abbott has said businesses can operate at full capacity, and no more masks. In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves has revoked the state’s mask mandate in all counties. And I believe there are a few more who have taken similar steps, like Montana and North Dakota, joining South Dakota which never had a mask law in the first place,” writes John Hinderaker, founder of the conservative blog Powerline.com.
“As I say, the dam is breaking. Weirdly, many of the states that require masks are taking an anti-science line toward them. They, with help from the ever-unreliable federal government, are promoting the idea that even after you get vaccinated, you still have to wear a mask. Not to protect yourself, but to protect others. How you can transmit a disease you don’t have to someone else remains a mystery,” he notes.
YOUR DR. SEUSS SALES UPDATE
Cancel culture be damned? Books by Dr. Seuss occupied nine of the top-10 sales positions on Amazon as of Wednesday afternoon. This follows 48 hours of discord for the late author following a public determination that some of his material was “racist.”
And the top five books on Amazon: No. 1 was “The Cat in the Hat,” followed by “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and the Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection.
Fox News once again aced the cable competition last week, according to Nielsen Media Research, emerging as No. 1 in both the daytime and nighttime hours. Fox News enjoyed a prime-time audience of 2.5 million viewers, followed by MSNBC with 1.9 million, CNN (1.2 million), ESPN (1.1 million) and HGTV (1 million).
It is of note that former President Donald Trump‘s speech at CPAC pulled in the network’s highest ratings ever for a Sunday: 5.7 million people tuned in. “The Big Sunday Show” — special programming for the occasion — was in second place overall with 3.7 million.
The network has been outperforming broadcast completion — including such shows as NBC’s “Ellen’s Game of Games” and “Meet the Press,” and ABC’s “The View” — since last Memorial Day, according to the Nielsen numbers.
POLL DU JOUR
• 63% of U.S. adults support the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan from Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic; 33% of Republicans, 56% of independents and 92% of Democrats agree.
• 61% of U.S. adults support the federal government cancelling $10,000 in college debt for those with student loans; 31% of Republicans, 58% of independents and 88% of Democrats agree.
• 53% overall say the amount of a proposed $1,400 stimulus payment is “about right”; 51% of Republicans, 49% of independents and 58% of Democrats agree.
• 52% overall support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; 20% of Republicans, 45% of independents and 87% of Democrats agree.
• 45% overall say the stimulus plan should remain “intact,” with no cuts; 21% of Republicans, 34% of independents and 76% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Monmouth University poll of 802 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 25-March 1.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.