Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson Makes Fundraising Pitch for Jindal

by Jim Geraghty

We’re nearly at the end of an FEC fundraising quarter, so there’s a good chance your e-mailbox is filling up with fundraising requests, with each campaign announcing they’re oh-so-close to their goal and how they need a donation from you right now to put them over the top.

Most of these requests all look the same, but Bobby Jindal’s newly-announced campaign called in one of their celebrity endorsers, Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson:


Last week, my friend Bobby Jindal announced his campaign for President. I’m excited he is running. Bobby has my vote.

Bobby hasn’t even been in the race a week, but today’s already the first fundraising deadline for his campaign.

I first met Bobby before he was Governor. He spoke at our church, and just preached. My family was so impressed, and we have been a fan of his ever since.

I know the values Bobby has. He is a good man. An honest man. A Godly man. And I’m proud to call him a friend.

That’s why I’m asking everyone to help my friend Bobby and chip in $100, $50, even $25 before this important fundraising deadline.

We are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world. We need Bobby’s leadership to help fix the mess in Washington. I’m the kind of guy who really likes smart people – and Bobby’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life.

Can I count on you to help my friend Bobby?

Thank you,

Willie Robertson President, Duck and Buck Commander

Robertson, left, and Jindal.

The Campaign Spot Closes, Moving Over to the Corner . . .

by Jim Geraghty

As mentioned in today’s Morning Jolt, The Campaign Spot will stop being updated and you’ll see my blogging over in NRO’s The Corner. We had debated this move for a few years, and it makes sense, particularly with campaign coverage heating up, to bring 2016-related blog posts to the Corner instead of making readers click through twice on a menu to get from Campaign Spot from the NRO home page. You can still find any blog post or article I write at NRO here.

The good folks running the ship here at National Review are also now calling me “senior political correspondent” . . . because that’s what you call a political correspondent who gets old. The Morning Jolt will remain the same, my articles at NRO will remain the same, Three Martini Lunch will remain the same.

The Kerry Spot began back in May 16, 2004. It’s been a spectacular eleven-year run, and not really much of a “goodbye”; similar gig, different office.

See you over there!

Pension Costs, Health Insurance Costs, Illegal Immigration: They All Hit Home.

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Pensions Costs, Health-Insurance Costs, Illegal Immigration: They All Hit Home.

Here in Fairfax County, property taxes are up . . . 

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 7 to 3 to raise taxes on Fairfax County homeowners. This year’s $185 dollar property tax rate increase on the average homeowner results in a 16 percent tax increase over the last 3 years.

Sales-tax revenues are up . . . 

Sales-tax receipts distributed to the Fairfax County government by the state government in April totaled $12.3 million, up 4.6 percent from a year before.

For the first nine months of the Fairfax County fiscal year, sales-tax receipts are up 6.6 percent from a year before.

And yet the school district informs me that they’re going to be forced to reduce spending by a bunch:

Fairfax County Public Schools expects the school year 2016-17 (FY 2017) budget to be a tremendous challenge with an anticipated deficit of more than $100 million.

Without additional funding, FCPS will be forced to have some very difficult conversations with the community to determine which programs to consider for reduction. In the coming months, there will be opportunities for the community to provide feedback on the potential cuts. In order to provide parents with accurate information and help you communicate about how we can work to #saveFCPS, a list of frequently asked questions about FY 2017 and other information is now online.

The school district’s explanation:

The cost drivers for the school year 2016-17 (FY 2017) budget include both items outside of FCPS’ control, like retirement and enrollment increases, and providing competitive compensation for our teachers. The cost drivers include:

  • a growing student population with diverse needs.
  • increased state-required retirement contributions rates.
  • increased health insurance costs.
  • increased compensation for our teachers.

Gee, what’s got the school enrollment in Fairfax County jumping so high? Ohhhh . . . 

Three counties in the Washington region have received among the highest numbers of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America since January, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Fairfax, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties have taken in more children from the recent border surge than all but five other cities and counties across the nation, largely due to their sizeable populations of Central American immigrants. Most arriving children are placed with relatives or other guardians while awaiting deportation hearings.

According to the agency, only Los Angeles, Miami, one border county in Texas and two counties near New York City have received more such children in the past seven months. Fairfax has received 1,023 children . . . 

Where else is all of that surging tax-revenue money going? I mean, I can see one expenditure that just shot up more than 25 percent:

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted to raise the salaries of future supervisors by $20,000 a year.

The vote was 6 to 4. Each member of the next board will make $95,000 a year, up from $75,000. The chairman will make $100,000, up from $75,000.

And there’s a cost-of-living increase for county workers:

The county’s 12,000 employees will receive cost-of-living raises of 1.10 percent — which is short of the actual 1.68 percent increase in the cost of living from last year.

So, let’s review:

  • Underfunded pension plans.
  • Rising health-insurance costs despite all the promises of Obamacare.
  • A deluge of new children who, adorable and innocent as they are, entered the country illegally and now are requiring more resources to educate.
  • Tax hikes.
  • Higher salaries for lawmakers.

All conservatives deserve a throw pillow embroidered with “I TOLD YOU SO” on their couches.

Life ain’t easy for a conservative in “The Burbs.”

The Obama Era of Unresolved Scandals and Outrages

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

The Obama Era of Unresolved Scandals and Outrages

We’re in the era of “The Unresolved.”

Remember Fast & Furious? The first of many embarrassing scandals, one that put American guns in the hands of drug cartels, used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent and numerous innocent people — 211 deaths and injuries in Mexico. Was there ever any sign that anyone in the administration or our government as a whole learned anything, or went about their jobs any differently, from that?

Probably not. “The Committees and the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General found that ATF employees in Phoenix and Washington bore responsibility for the conduct of Operation Fast and Furious and that the Justice Department failed to adequately supervise ATF’s conduct of the case. It remains unclear, however, whether and to what extent additional disciplinary actions were taken,” wrote Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Jason Chaffetz to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, in a letter in April of this year. Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. It’s been four and a half years, and the U.S. Senate still doesn’t know who was punished and how.

Remember The president goes out, tells the American public the site is working at the precise moment it is thoroughly dysfunctional. The inspector general later confirms the obvious: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “did not perform thorough reviews of contractor past performance when awarding two key contracts.” The contractor, of course, was CGI Federal.

Here’s CGI Federal, getting a 10-year, multi-billion contract from the General Services Administration in July 2014. Here’s CGI Federal, getting half of a $2.5 billion contract from the U.S. Navy in January of this year.

Remember the Syrian red line? It’s broken again.

International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

Samples taken by experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in December and January tested positive for chemical precursors needed to make the toxic agents, the sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential.

“This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source said. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”

Remember the VA scandal? Remember how outraged everyone was, and how adamant President Obama and the new VA secretary were to get to the bottom of it and hold everyone accountable? Well, now we know:

Then in February, the new secretary, Robert A. McDonald, asserted in a nationally televised interview that the department had fired 60 people involved in manipulating wait times to make it appear that veterans were receiving care faster than they were. In fact, the department quickly clarified after that interview, only 14 people had been removed from their jobs, while about 60 others had received lesser punishments.

Now, new internal documents show that the real number of people removed from their jobs is much smaller still: at most, three.

The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal. One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.

Remember Benghazi? No one at the State Department was ever fired for making the decision to turn down Ambassador Chris Stevens’s requests for additional security. Because four employees were put on paid leave, as Darrell Issa put it, the administration’s review “ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll.”

One perpetrator of the Benghazi attack has been caught and is facing trial. There were reportedly 150 armed attackers involved.

We don’t get resolutions anymore. Really terrible things happen, people get outraged — often entirely justifiably — pledges of full investigations are made, partisan defenses get deployed, it gets chewed over for a news cycle or two . . . and then it gets replaced by some other outrage. If the axe ever falls, it falls on those darned rogue low-level employees in Cincinnati.

We Need a Real Debate About American Immigration Levels.

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

We Need a Real Debate About American Immigration Levels.

A thought on Monday’s piece about Scott Walker, Jeff Sessions, and legal immigration . . . 

As noted in the article, the United States brings in about one million legal immigrants per year, a figure that is at or near record levels. A lot of Americans, asked for their ideal immigration policy, would envision no illegal immigration, and a smooth, fast-moving, efficient system for legal immigration.

I suspect a lot of people would like to say, “as long as you haven’t committed any crimes and you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules, if you want to be an American, we’ll let you become an American citizen.” That’s a nice and heart-warming philosophy. It’s a policy of rarely ever saying “no.” For anyone who’s a descendant of immigrants, it means never shutting the door on anyone else. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote, in 1984 and again in 2001, that the U.S. should adopt a constitutional amendment declaring, “there shall be open borders.”

The problem is that there are millions, probably tens of millions, of foreign citizens who would like to become Americans if they were given the chance.

If we permitted 1.5 million immigrants to become American citizens per year, we would find enough applicants, or 2 million or 3 million.

And no matter how much we love legal immigrants, the country couldn’t take them all in at once without going through a wrenching social and economic upheaval. That 2001 Journal editorial saluted the country’s capacity for assimilating new immigrants, and I suspect that a lot of Americans aren’t so confident in our ability to do that in 2015. (Do we even have a common, unifying culture anymore?) How many new jobs per year can our economy generate? How many empty slots do we have in our schools and hospitals? How’s our infrastructure doing handling the influx?

If you say that the million-a-year rate should be reduced to some lower level . . . does that ipso facto make you a xenophobe? Hateful? Racist?

The boss has a column about illegal immigrants working in New York City’s nail salons and concludes . . . 

There has been booming growth in nail salons in New York City during the past 15 years, and prices haven’t really changed since the 1990s, according to the Times. This is a boon to women who want an affordable reverse-French manicure. In this case, and in many others, illegal immigration is a subsidy for the upper-middle class that can enjoy cheaper services than it would if the country had a strictly legal labor market and lower levels of overall immigration. No one wants to hear it, though.

When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker suggested that the effect on wages of American workers should be the first concern in considering levels of immigration, the political class recoiled in horror. Surely, one reason that salons can pay so poorly is that the supply of illegal workers is so plentiful. And this supply of labor must, at least at the margins, crowd out workers already here who might consider working in salons if pay and conditions were better.

The country deserves a serious, hard-minded debate about what level of legal immigration is appropriate for our economy – and how well we can bring legal immigrants into the full embrace of American culture. But we’re probably not going to get that. We’re going to get a lot of accusations about “xenophobia.”

UPDATE: The perfect illustration of this issue:

About 13 percent of the world’s adults — or about 630 million people — say they would like to leave their country and move somewhere else permanently. For roughly 138 million people, that somewhere else would be the U.S. — the No. 1 desired destination for potential migrants.

Obama to Announce Presidential Library Site Tomorrow

by Jim Geraghty

If you’ve been wondering where President Obama’s presidential center/library will be located . . . you will know tomorrow:

Tomorrow, The Barack Obama Foundation will announce the home of the future Barack Obama Presidential Center. The Foundation will release the announcement at 6am ET/5am CT and convene a press conference in Chicago — where the Foundation is based — at 1 p.m. ET. The press conference will also be webcast live on the Obama Foundation website:

The Barack Obama Foundation was formed in January 2014 by close family and friends of the President and First Lady in order to oversee the building, construction, design, and planning processes for a future Obama Presidential Center. Over the last 14 months, the Foundation has evaluated more than a dozen potential sites through an RFP process and considered a number of key factors, such as transportation and accessibility, economic development opportunities, community interest and engagement and the potential for academic and programmatic collaboration.

That Awful Interview of Ted Cruz, and Why We Can Expect More

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

That Awful Interview of Ted Cruz, and Why We Can Expect More

Credit Reuben Navarrette for noticing a glaring double standard.

Watching Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics interview Cruz recently, I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was actually nauseated . . . 

He told Cruz that people are curious about his “identity.” Then, the host asked a series of questions intended to establish his guest’s Hispanic bona fides. What kind of Cuban food did Cruz like to eat growing up? And what sort of Cuban music does Cruz listen to even now?

I’ve known Ted for more than a decade and I could tell he was uncomfortable. But he played along, listing various kinds of Cuban food and saying that his musical taste veers more toward country.

I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche — all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.

Just when I thought I’d seen the worst, it got even more offensive. Earlier that day, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, had entered the presidential race. So, Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.”

What nerve, treating a U.S. senator like a trained seal! Who does this guy think he is, trying to evaluate how well a Hispanic speaks Spanish? And what does that have to do with being authentic anyway?

Navarrette points out that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and his twin brother, Representative Joaquin Castro (D., Texas), don’t speak Spanish well, and that hasn’t harmed their political careers nor their sense of “authenticity.” Reporters can look pretty silly when they make assumptions about their interview subject’s heritage. A little while back, Andrea Mitchell asked Julian Castro about his “Cuban-American background,” to which he replied, “Well, I’m Mexican-American.”

I can understand the desire to go beyond the “tell us about your tax plan” line of questions. But Halperin came across as snide, presumptive, and arrogant, with the underlying tone of the questions suggesting Cruz was somehow faking his status as a Cuban-American.

Jonathan Tobin: “With two Republican presidential candidates of Hispanic background (Cruz and fellow Cuban-American Marco Rubio) and one GOP hopeful that is a woman (Carly Fiorina) and another an African America (Ben Carson), the liberal authenticity police will be out in force. But rather than merely ignore them as Cruz, who kept his cool with Halperin did, this insidious bias needs to be shown for what it is: a desire by the media to delegitimize anyone who doesn’t conform to their ideas about identity politics as interpreted through the catechism of liberal ideology.”

BuzzFeed’s Katherine Miller observes, “nothing really happened after the interview! Besides Rush Limbaugh, no one on the Internet seems to have noticed this happened for . . . nine days.” Maybe that says something about who’s watching Halperin’s program?

UPDATE: Today Halperin apologized.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ted Cruz responds:

Mark Halperin is a serious and fair-minded journalist. Today he kindly issued an apology for some silly questions he asked me in an interview. The apology was unnecessary — no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended — but is certainly appreciated.

Greg Abbott Could Be a 2016 Kingmaker — But He May Not Want to Be

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Greg Abbott Could Be a 2016 Kingmaker — But He May Not Want to Be

Texas governor Greg Abbott met with some of NR’s Washington staff yesterday, and discussed what he’s hoping to see in the GOP presidential nominee.

He said he doesn’t know if he’ll endorse before the Texas primary. Part of me would be surprised if he did. In Washington yesterday, Abbott said he had met with Senators Ted Cruz and Jon Cornyn, along with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Of course, Abbott’s predecessor, Rick Perry, is almost certain to launch a bid in the near future. Perry and Abbott worked closely as governor and attorney general for about 14 years, and while they occasionally disagreed, the two men think well of each other. And of course, the Bush family is still quite well-regarded, connected, and influential in Texas; both President Bushes have their presidential libraries in Texas, and George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, is currently commissioner of the Texas Land Office.

In short, by endorsing one, Abbott would do some damage to his relationship with the other two; the media both nationally and in Texas would interpret an endorsement of one as a slap in the face of the other two. If Cruz doesn’t win the presidency, he’s likely to be a senator from Texas for a very, very long time, and George P. Bush is likely to be a significant player in Texas politics for just as long or even longer.

As our Joel Gehrke laid out, Texas offers about 10 percent of all of the delegates needed to win the nomination. It costs $1.5 million a week to buy television ads in every media market in the state, and the allocation of the delegates is . . . complicated:

Seventy percent of the 155 delegates will be allocated based on the March 1 election results, following a winner-take-all by congressional district formula: If a candidate fails to earn more than 50 percent of the votes in a given congressional district, the delegates will be divided two-to-one between the first-place and second-place finishers. The remaining 30 percent will be awarded by a caucus at the state convention in May.

For the local candidates Cruz and Perry, the Texas primary is like “playing the Game of Thrones”: you either win or you die (metaphorically). An Abbott endorsement of one candidate could be seen as an insurmountable setback for the other.

Why Did a Nigerian Company Pay Bill Clinton $1.4 Million for Two Speeches?

by Jim Geraghty

In light of Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer, reviewed by my friend Bruce Webster here . . . 

. . . does anyone else find it surprising that Lagos, Nigeria–based newspaper company THISDAY would pay Bill Clinton $700,000 for a single speech . . . twice in two years? Once in 2011, once in 2012. Bill Clinton also spoke at a THISDAY event in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in February 2013.

This newspaper company ran into serious financial trouble by May 2013:

The industrial look of the office space clashes against [Nduka] Obaigbena’s image as a wealthy playboy who has brought in artists like Jay-Z, Beyonce and Snoop Dogg to Nigeria. His award shows have featured former U.S. President Bill Clinton several times, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others. That has meant hundreds of thousands of dollars in performance and speaking fees.

Meanwhile, union leaders and workers say Obaigbena routinely shorted them on their salaries and kept withholding taxes and obligations for himself. He has close ties to major business leaders and those in the ruling People’s Democratic Party. But lately, it appears as though Obaigbena has been suffering a cash crunch. He canceled his annual fashion week, which brings designers from around the world. Meanwhile, he continues to pump money into a satellite news channel called Arise TV. A previous effort to start a ThisDay newspaper in South Africa collapsed.

At the time of Bill Clinton’s speeches, some members of the small community of individuals focused on U.S. policy towards Nigeria wanted Washington to take a tougher line on corruption in the oil-rich country. Before Hillary Clinton’s trip to 2012 Nigeria, Human Rights Watch wrote to the secretary of state, urging her to take a tougher line on alleged human-rights abuses by the Nigerian government in her meeting with Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and declaring his anti-corruption agency had “not yet made significant strides”; the group pointed out that “despite the endemic corruption, no senior political figure in Nigeria is currently serving prison time for corruption.”

Here’s Hillary meeting with Jonathan in 2012:

She spoke pretty positively about Jonathan during her visit to Nigeria in 2012, describing him as a force against corruption:

We intend to remain very supportive on your reform efforts. Thank you for mentioning the work we did together on the election.

We were also very supportive of anti-corruption reform efforts, more transparency in the work that you and your team are also championing because we really believe that the future for Nigeria is limitless. But the most important task that you face, as you have said, is making sure that there are better opportunities for all Nigerians, South, East, West, every young boy and girl to have chance to fulfill his God-given potential. We want to work with you and we will be by your side as you make the reforms and take the tough decisions that are necessary.”

After speaking in Nigeria the three preceding years, and being compensated exceptionally well for two of them, Bill Clinton didn’t do a speech in Nigeria in 2014. And by that year, Hillary was offering a dramatically different view of the Nigerian government and Goodluck Jonathan:

“The government of Nigeria has been in my view somewhat derelict in its responsibility toward protecting boy and girls, men and women in northern Nigeria over the last years. . . . Nigeria has made bad choices, not hard choices,” Clinton said, parroting the name of her forthcoming memoir. “They have squandered their oil wealth, they have allowed corruption to fester and now they are losing control of parts of their territory because they wouldn’t make hard choices.”

The Most Profitable Name in News . . .

by Jim Geraghty

We all know Fox News enjoys significantly higher ratings than its news-network rivals, but the disparity in these numbers on their earnings and profits seems pretty astounding:

Fox News, which also declined comment for this story, remains one of the most profitable channels of any kind on television. It attracted $2 billion in advertising and license fees from cable operators last year, according to SNL Kagan’s estimates. It earned $1.2 billion — for a staggering 60 percent profit margin.

Even woebegone MSNBC, whose daytime audience has fallen to fewer than 300,000 viewers, did relatively steady business, turning a $206 million profit on $501 million in revenue last year, according to SNL Kagan (the comparable numbers for CNN: earnings of $327 million on $1.13 billion of revenue).

So Fox News Channel is six times as profitable as MSNBC, and about three and a half times as profitable as CNN.

Huckabee Unveils Fundraising Schedule for May and June

by Jim Geraghty

Today Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign released a memo about the former governor’s fundraising schedule.

Hosts of upcoming Huckabee events include Representative Trent Franks of Arizona, influential Texas lobbyist Dean McWilliams, Shelby County mayor Mark Luttrell, and the family of longtime Huckabee aide Chip Saltsman.

TO: Interested Parties
From: Chip Saltsman, Senior Advisor, Mike Huckabee

Date: May 6, 2015

RE: Post-launch fundraising Schedule

Contact: [email protected]

On the heels of his 2016 presidential campaign launch, Governor Mike Huckabee and our team have assembled an aggressive month-long fundraising schedule with stops across the entire continental United States. The following are details of his planned events available for public release:

Monday, May 11 – Houston, Texas

Monday, May 11 – Austin, Texas – Dean & Andrea McWilliams

Tuesday, May 12 – Dallas, Texas – Bobby Adkins, Jr.

Tuesday, May 12 – Washington, DC

Thursday, May 14 – Phoenix, Arizona – Floyd & Mary Beth Brown, Congressman Trent & Josie Franks, Mike & Sheila Ingram, and Christine Jones

Wednesday, May 20 – Memphis, Tennessee – Mike Keeney, David Kustoff, and Mayor Mark Luttrell

Wednesday, May 20 – Nashville, Tennessee – Bruce & Elaine Saltsman, Chip Saltsman, and Duane Ward

Tuesday, May 26 – Atherton, California – Ken & Roberta Eldred, Tom & Kipp Gutshall, & Drs. Bill & Marilee Clauson

Wednesday, May 27 – Laguna Beach, California – Gary & Cathy Daichendt, Ken & Roberta Eldred

Thursday, May 28 – Amarillo, Texas – Jack Sisemore

Sunday, May 31 – New York, New York – Dr. Joe Frager & Ken Abramowitz

Monday, June 1 – New York, New York

Wednesday, June 3 – Jonesboro, Arkansas

Wednesday, June 3 – Little Rock, Arkansas

Thursday, June 4 – El Dorado, Arkansas

Thursday, June 4 – Bentonville, Arkansas

Friday, June 5 – Texarkana, Arkansas

Alleged ‘Political Assassination’ vs. Actual Attempts to Kill People

by Jim Geraghty

Welcome to another edition of “Why Today’s Political Culture Is Particularly Insufferable.”

In today’s Washington Post, the paper checks in with the former president Bill Clinton and his supporters at a Clinton Foundation event in Marrakesh, Morocco:

Later Wednesday, in a 20-minute gaggle with reporters here, [Mo] Ibrahim [a billionaire Sudanese-British telecommunications entrepreneur and philanthropist], attributed the media attention on the Clinton Foundation to the “polarized” state of U.S. politics and suggested it was part of a witch hunt to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. “If Saudi money goes to help poor farmers in Tanzania, isn’t that a wonderful thing?” Ibrahim asked reporters. “It just begs the question, was that fair scrutiny or is that a political assassination process?”

Reporting by major newspapers and news groups like the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, etc., gets labeled “political assassination.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Post, the newspaper finds it newsworthy that Pamela Geller didn’t feel the need to apologize after hosting a Mohammed cartoon event that was attacked by two aspiring jihadists.

In other words, reporting about what the Clintons have been doing, and how they’ve made their money in the past few years, is deemed “political assassination,” while an actual assassination attempt is treated as some sort of natural response to an inexcusable provocation.

Look, I get that it’s baked into the human condition that we value “our guys” more than “their guys” and that we all hate to see “our guys” getting criticism. But today’s political culture — particularly the subculture that surrounds the Clintons! — is full of people who believe that any criticism of “their guys” is the worst outrage ever, one of history’s great tragedies, an abomination, etc. Meanwhile, no criticism of the other side is ever out of bounds; “hey, politics ain’t beanbag,” and so on. Asked about his lie that Romney didn’t pay taxes, Harry Reid shrugs and says, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Push this mentality far enough, and you end up insisting that anything my guys do is okay, and anything your guys do is immoral, unethical, illegal, and deserving of expulsion from public life. (One might argue that’s what we’re seeing on college campuses. The very presence of Christina Hoff Summers on a college campus is an unacceptable provocation and outrage, but a professor physically assaulting a pro-life 16-year-old is just an unavoidable reaction to an obvious unacceptable “hate.”)

After a while, you begin to realize you’re trying to reason with crazy people. Yes, if you think the news desks of the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and other media groups all got together in a conspiratorial effort to harm Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency, you’re off your rocker, I don’t care how much money you have.

Why can we not have reasonable, respectful public discourse? Because a lot of the participants are more or less . . . well, “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” to use the technical term.

Walker, Paul, Rubio Lead New Poll of GOP Iowa Caucus-Goers

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

Walker, Paul, Rubio Lead New Poll of GOP Iowa Caucus-Goers

A new Quinnipiac poll out this morning, surveying likely Iowa caucus-goers:

Walker is at 21 percent of likely GOP caucus participants, compared to 25 percent in a February 25 poll . . . 

In the scramble for second place are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 13 percent each, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 12 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 11 percent. Physician Ben Carson has 7 percent, with 5 percent for Jeb Bush. No other candidate is above 3 percent and 6 percent are undecided.

Not many surprises in there, and obviously there’s a lot of road ahead. Having said that, if they finished in that order on Caucus Night, it would be a nice burst of momentum for Walker, Paul, Rubio, and Cruz. For Huckabee, after winning Iowa in 2008, 11 percent would be a disappointment.

Somehow previous caucus winner Rick Santorum is at 2 percent! Also, if Bobby Jindal doesn’t move much beyond 1 percent, where’s his next stronghold? South Carolina? If you’re in that 5 percent–or–less category, should you put a lot of effort in Iowa in the next seven months or so?

We Have Invented Jihadist Flypaper.

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

We Have Invented Jihadist Flypaper.

Is it just me, or have we just invented a form of Islamist/jihadist/ISIS flypaper?

They wore body armor. They carried assault rifles. And one had declared loyalty to ISIS.

A day after police killed two gunmen who tried to ambush a Garland, Texas, event featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, details began to emerge about the shooters.

One suspect, identified as Elton Simpson by a federal law enforcement source, linked himself to ISIS in a tweet posted just before the attack.

Think about it. These guys had to know the event would be guarded. These guys had to know that the event is going on in Texas, meaning that a lot of attendees and passers-by would be armed. Heck it’s Texas. Everybody’s armed. The former governor, Rick Perry, shot a coyote while jogging.

This is Rick Perry’s pre-jog stretching routine.

And yet, knowing that they were attempting the equivalent of robbing a police station or attempting a carjacking outside the NRA convention, these two idiots went ahead and did it anyway! Did I say Islamist flypaper? How about Islamist catnip? These guys just can’t resist attempting to kill people if there’s an announced effort to draw Muhammad!

More about the perps:

He also was no stranger to federal investigators. In 2011, he was convicted of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism.

Why do we have a “watch list”? Don’t we need a “do something about his guy” list?

The other suspect, identified as Nadir Soofi by two federal law enforcement officials, was Simpson’s roommate in a Phoenix apartment.

He wasn’t well-known to federal law enforcement and was not on the FBI’s radar, one of the officials said. Investigators were combing through evidence retrieved from the shooters’ Arizona home to help piece together a timeline of how their plot came together, the official said.

Authorities are still trying to determine the suspects’ motives, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday. At this point, he said, one thing appears clear: A quick-thinking police officer “likely saved a number of innocent lives.”

Writing in the Daily Beast, James Kirchick attempts to remind liberals that saying things they dislike doesn’t mean that potential terrorism victims had it coming:

Geller’s being an obnoxious blowhard cannot lessen her claim to the same free speech rights that more salubrious individuals enjoy. Indeed, it is vital that free speech supporters unequivocally condemn Sunday’s attack precisely because Geller is an obnoxious blowhard. To understand why, it helps to remember one of America’s most important First Amendment legal cases.

Anyway, if jihadists really are driven to an irrational — excuse me, even less rational than usual compulsion to attack those who think they’re mocking Mohammed, won’t it be pretty easy to set up traps and ambushes?

Rubio’s Smooth Dexterity About His Agenda’s Downsides

by Jim Geraghty

From the Monday Morning Jolt:

Marco Rubio’s Smooth Dexterity About His Agenda’s Downsides

You can watch my interview with Marco Rubio here, or read our Joel Gehrke’s write-up here.

There’s a lot to like about Rubio; he’s the best communicator in the GOP. But his plans do have details that some folks on the right might dislike. But the senator’s such a smooth, polished communicator that he can talk around the inconvenient drawbacks and unpopular points and leave audiences feeling good about everything he’s just said.

For example, he conceded that under the proposed Rubio-Lee tax plan, some people — he estimated about 10 percent — would face higher taxes, while reducing it for the rest.

For 2015, the top tax rate is 39.6 percent and kicks in for $413,200 for individuals, $464,850 for married couples.

Under Rubio’s plan, the top rate drops from 39 percent to 35 percent . . . but it kicks in at $75,000 for individuals, and $150,000 for married couples. There are a decent number of individuals making $75,000 and married couples making $150,000 who will be surprised to learn that they’re in the top tax bracket in the United States. Rubio points out that there are various little steps people can take to reduce their taxable income below that threshold — put money in a retirement account or health savings account, etc., and Rubio-Lee also includes a $2,500 per child tax credit, which will do a lot for the parents in that higher categories. (The other tax rate under Rubio-Lee? Fifteen percent. Right now, the 15 percent tax rate only applies to single filers making $9,225 to $37,450 and married couples making $18,450 to $74,900.)

If you’re a married couple with a combined taxable income of, say, $140,000, currently playing the 25 percent rate, the Rubio tax plan is terrific! Your rate is dropping to 15 percent! But if you’re a married couple with a combined taxable income of, say, $160,000, currently paying a 28 percent rate . . . Rubio-Lee’s 35 percent rate doesn’t look good at all! (UPDATE: See below)

On immigration, he would insist his views are nowhere near pro-amnesty . . . but under his preferred scenario, a decent number of people who entered the country illegally will be allowed to stay and not fear deportation. He says that his agenda would require a secure border, employers using E-Verify to ensure they’re not hiring illegal immigrants to do work, and a visa entry and exit system to ensure those who enter legally on temporary visas don’t stay longer than they’re permitted. Then those who are here illegally would register, pay a fine for violating immigration law, and face deportation only if they committed crimes. I pressed him on whether that would apply to both misdemeanors and felonies, and he indicated he wanted it “as strict as possible” — including DUIs. He expressed frustration with pro-immigration-“reform” groups (my scare quotes, not his) that believe those who are entered the country are owed the right to stay here, instead of being granted the privilege of remaining here by a United States that deems their stay in the country’s best interest.

You’re going to want to watch these:

1) Rich Lowry interviews former governor Jeb Bush.

2) Larry Kudlow interviews Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

3) John Fund interviews Carly Fiorina.

4) Heather Higgins of the Independent Women’s Forum interviews Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

5) Stephen Moore, NRO contributor and economist at the Heritage Foundation, interviews Ohio governor John Kasich.

6) Rich Lowry interviews Dr. Charles Krauthammer.

7) John O’Sullivan interviews Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

UPDATE: Ramesh writes in, saying that the married couple in my example above would be better off on their overall tax bill because even though they’re paying a higher rate on their income beyond $150,000, they’re paying a lower rate on the income below $150,000.

He calculates that couples would start seeing their tax rates go up at about $220,000 or so. (Right now a married couple making $151,200 to $230,450 is taxed at the 28 percent rate.) There’s a class of Americans sometimes referred to as “HENRYs” — “High Earners, Not Rich Yet” — who will make up most of that 10 percent and will pay more under the Rubio-Lee plan. Those folks might be a little irked that they’re the ones who pay more under a new plan, compared to those with much higher income levels; the married couple in the next neighborhood over with a combined taxable income of $465,000 would be enjoying the top rate dropping from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.

Elaborating a bit more, if the 10 percent who will pay more under Rubio-Lee is mostly married couples making, say, $220,000 to $465,000 and singles making $180,000 to $413,000, a lot of people will dismiss the complaints about higher taxes as whining from spoiled suburban yuppies.

But a married couple with each partner making a low-six-figure income in New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, most of Connecticut, etc. doesn’t feel particularly rich, and while I can’t stand the “balancing the budget on the backs of” cliché, people in this demographic are going to ask why the upwardly mobile and working are paying more compared to groups they perceive as super-wealthy — all under a plan that’s supposed to help people “live the American dream,” etc. These groups certainly don’t think of themselves as undertaxed, and you figure they pack more clout in terms of influence than some other demographics . . . 

The Clinton Family’s Proud Tradition of Shamelessly Lying

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

The Clinton Family’s Proud Tradition of Shamelessly Lying

Everybody has a particular figure in the news who drives them a little bonkers. You may recall that for some reason, media hosannas for Chelsea Clinton stick in my craw. I’m perfectly happy to see Chelsea Clinton go off and live a happy life as a mom or doing whatever she likes away from the public spotlight. But I’m tired of the media telling us she’s remarkably accomplished in her own right, her keynote addresses to conferences like SXSW, treating her like she’s an A-list celebrity and fascinating figure, the “Woman of the Year” and “Mom of the Year” awards, her widely panned $600,000-per-year, part-time work as an increasingly infrequent NBC News correspondent, and her assistant vice provost position at New York University, taken at age 30, before finishing her dissertation.

Now there’s a new angle to Chelsea Clinton’s public profile. She’s as shameless a liar as both of her parents:

“What the Clinton foundation has said is that we will be kind of even more transparent,” said the former first daughter, now vice chairman of the foundation, at an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Even though Transparency International and others have said we’re among the most transparent foundations, we’ll disclose donors on a quarterly basis, not just an annual basis.”

The problem with that, though, is Transparency International never cited the Clinton foundation. It did award Hillary Clinton its 2012 TI-USA Integrity Award when Clinton was secretary of state for “recognizing her contributions as secretary of state in raising the importance of transparency and anticorruption as elements of U.S. policy,” Claudia Dumas, president of Transparency International, told NPR. (The organization put out a fuller statement Monday.)

It’s a false statement, but it also looks like Freudian slip. Transparency International gives the U.S. State Department an award, and Chelsea thinks it went to the Clinton Foundation. It’s hard to shake the feeling that for the Clintons, the U.S. State Department and the Clinton Foundation were intertwined and interchangeable.

NPR’s report continues: “The Clinton foundation discloses all of its donors . . . ”

No, it doesn’t. Bloomberg reported yesterday that the Clinton Foundation did not disclose 1,100 foreign donors, and when they filed their taxes for the years Hillary was running the State Department, they just happened to forget to mention tens of millions of dollars in donations from foreign governments.

Wait, there’s more!

Loopholes and legalistic explanations about what new foreign donations should be excluded from disclosure were not publicly discussed in the initial deal. In 2009, the incoming Obama administration, Clinton, and then-Senator John F. Kerry all publicly touted the Clinton charities’ “memorandum of understanding’’ as a guarantee that transparency and public scrutiny would be brought to bear on activities that posed any potential conflicts of interest with State Department business.

“Transparency is critically important here, obviously, because it allows the American people, the media, and those of us here in Congress . . . to be able to judge for ourselves that no conflicts — real or apparent — exist,’’ Kerry said during a Senate floor speech on Jan. 21, 2009.

The memorandum, which did not outline a penalty for failing to comply, was signed in December 2008 by Valerie Jarrett, co-chairwoman of the Obama transition team, and Bruce Lindsey, a longtime Clinton aide who at the time was CEO of the Clinton Foundation and sits on the board of the [Clinton Health Access Initiative].

Jarrett and Lindsey declined to be interviewed about CHAI’s repeated failures to disclose major increases in foreign grants.

This is the way the Clintons operate: Make the grand promise, even sign on the dotted line to make the promise official, then ignore it. A great quality in a president, huh?

NPR continues, “ . . . and, as Chelsea Clinton noted, it is now doing so more frequently as Hillary Clinton is running for president. That’s more than other presidential libraries and foundations.”

Yes, but other presidential libraries and foundations aren’t a way to put money at the disposal of a future presidential candidate. When Clinton defenders trot out the “but Hillary doesn’t make a salary from the Foundation” claim, remind them that the family’s travel — by charter or first class, “due to extraordinary security and other requirements” — is paid for by the Foundation.

Potential Primary Challenger to Senator Mike Lee Declines 2016 Bid

by Jim Geraghty

That didn’t take long. Hours after Campaign Spot reported that Utah senator Mike Lee hired Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and the opposition research group America Rising, one of his potential primary rivals decides he’s not that interested in running after all:

Alex Dunn, the Provo business executive being recruited by a top adviser to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to run against Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, announced Tuesday he won’t get in the race.

“Given my current responsibilities as president of an incredible company and to my young family, my wife and I have decided now is not the right time,” Dunn, president of Vivint Inc., a home security company, said in a statement . . . 

Earlier, Rhoades told the National Review Online in a statement that America Rising is “excited to join Sen. Lee’s team in his re-election effort. The senator is working to unite the Republican Party around common sense solutions and a positive agenda.”

In the statement, Rhoades said that “Utah needs Mike Lee in the United States Senate, and America Rising LLC will help ensure his campaign has the tools they need to take on an opponent while the senator focuses on taking his message directly to the people.”

Oh, and for those who contend the National Republican Senatorial Committee is always out to help the squishes against the true conservatives . . . 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is also gearing up for a potential effort to unseat Lee, who was elected in 2010 after Utah GOP delegates voted out longtime Sen. Bob Bennett in a state party convention.

“The NRSC will do whatever it takes to ensure Sen. Lee can continue to serve Utah families,” Executive Director Ward Baker said. “If anyone runs against a Republican incumbent, they should understand they will have the full weight of the NRSC against them.”

The NRSC is pro-GOP incumbent, for better or for worse.

Mike Lee Hires America Rising to Fend Off Primary Challenger

by Jim Geraghty

One of the more interesting unresolved questions in the 2016 Senate races is whether Senator Mike Lee, Utah Republican, will face a primary challenger. Some deep-pocketed figures in the state are attempting to recruit a challenger:

[Former Romney finance director] Spencer Zwick told KSL News he wants to see Alex Dunn, president of Vivint Inc., who worked on Romney’s 2002 campaign for governor of Massachusetts and served on his gubernatorial staff, take on Lee in a GOP primary in 2016.

Dunn, a graduate of Brigham Young University, confirmed he’s considering a run against the first-term senator.

Lee hears the footsteps, and is getting prepared. He’s hired Matt Rhoades and America Rising, perhaps the best opposition-research organization on the GOP side. Rhoades, of course, was Romney’s campaign manager in 2012.

“We are excited to join Senator Lee’s team in his re-election effort,” Rhodes said in a statement to NRO. “The Senator is working to unite the Republican Party around common sense solutions and a positive agenda. &Utah needs Mike Lee in the United States Senate, and America Rising, LLC will help ensure his campaign has the tools they need to take on an opponent while the Senator focuses on taking his message directly to the people.”

Stealing Pringles in the Name of Justice.

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Baltimore Is Burning

Whenever this kind of unforgivable idiocy occurs, some chin-stroking media wise man assures us that rioting is an expression of anger from oppressed communities, a cry for justice from those who feel every other avenue of regress has been unfairly blocked, blah blah blah.

It’s all nonsense. The last “riot” that achieved anything useful was the Boston Tea Party. If everyone in the United States swore a pledge declaring, “I will never riot,” there would be less injustice in this world, not more.

Hey. At least somebody got some Pringles.

What the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said:

I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act, because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate, and that’s what you saw.

What the mayor of Baltimore meant to say, according to a release by her office:

I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act, because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also [as a result] gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate, and that’s what you saw.

Eh, not quite the same, Ms. Mayor. And after we saw Baltimore turn into Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday afternoon, one can’t help but wonder if some troublemakers took her remarks as a green light.

Steven Crowder, addressing the rioters:

You are animals. If you are able to destroy the home or business of your neighbor, you’ve lost your humanity. If you are able to harm your fellow man, to scare their children, to do so with a clean conscience, merely because of something that some cop may or may not have done, which has nothing to do with you . . . you are a horrible human being. You disgust me, as you should anyone who wishes to be a part of civilized society.

Leftists will come to your defense and demand “understanding”. You deserve none. We are past the point of understanding. You deserve justice.

I reserve my “understanding” for the people you’ve hurt, for the businesses you’ve cost countless sums of money, blood, sweat and tears. If that makes me “insensitive”, then you are the one who is placing greater value on the grievance of the felons, than that of the tax-paying, law abiding citizen. You are siding with the criminal, over the local business owner.

If you can stand some strong not-safe-for-work language, one mom appeared absolutely determined to drag her son away from the rioting.

Hillary’s Surprising Weakness in Virginia

by Jim Geraghty

The Washington Post:

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are all neck-and-neck with the Democratic frontrunner in a new poll of Virginia voters from the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University. Only against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker does Clinton lead by more than four percentage points. Bush leads her by two points in the poll.

A quick point: The final Christopher Newport poll of the 2014 cycle put Democrat Mark Warner ahead of Ed Gillespie in the Senate race by 7 points. Warner won the Senate race by eight-tenths of a percentage point. Give CNU a bit of credit; they were one of the only pollsters to have Warner’s margin in single digits.

This doesn’t mean that the Republican candidates would beat Hillary if the election were held today. It simply means that sometimes the Virginia electorate can surprise us. But a lot of the talk about 2016 has suggested that the Republican candidate will face a steep climb in Virginia, and that may not be the case after all.

UPDATE: A wise Virginia mind reaches out and reminds me that the poll is “based on 658 interviews of registered Virginia voters, including 388 on landline and 270 on cell phone, conducted April 13-24, 2015.” An eleven-day window for polling is pretty wide, and you have to wonder if Hillary’s numbers dipped significantly as stories about her dominated the headlines. Her polling numbers on those last few days must have been terrible . . .