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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

RIP Marion Barry, Beloved D.C. Figure and Very, Very, Very Bad Mayor



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From the first Morning Jolt of Thanksgiving Week:

RIP Marion Barry, Beloved D.C. Figure and Very, Very, Very Bad Mayor

The vast majority of the coverage of the death of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry offered variations of, “he shouldn’t be remembered or judged just by his arrest for smoking crack cocaine in 1990.”

Okay.

But let’s not forget it, huh? Yes, we are more than the consequences of our worst act at our worst moment. But this was a pretty spectacular failure of judgment, in a life that had plenty of those moments:

Marion Barry Jr., the Mississippi sharecropper’s son and civil rights activist who served three terms as mayor of the District of Columbia, survived a drug arrest and jail sentence, and then came back to win a fourth term as the city’s chief executive, died early on Nov. 23 at United Medical Center in Washington. He was 78.

Mr. Barry, who also served on the D.C. Council for 15 years and had been president of the city’s old Board of Education, was the most influential and savvy local politician of his generation. He dominated the city’s political landscape in the final quarter of the 20th century. There was a time when his critics, in sarcasm but not entirely in jest, called him “Mayor for Life.” Into the first dozen years of the new millennium, he remained a highly visible player on the city’s political stage, but by then on the periphery, no longer at the center.

His personal and public life was fraught with high drama and irony. He struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, relapse and recovery. He was married four times, divorced three times and separated from his fourth wife. His extramarital liaisons and legal trouble over unpaid taxes made news.

Yes they “made news” because they reflected a lifelong assurance that the laws and the rules didn’t apply to him.

I lived in Washington, D.C., during the Barry comeback in the early 1990s. On both of his mayoral watches, life in the city got worse. Here’s how Washingtonian magazine delicately puts it:

“As an elected official, Marion often misconstrued the mission of his government as one to provide reparations to black Americans,” says Jarvis. “Somehow he came to believe the government was the employer of first resort. He hired without much criteria. His greatest failure was in not training city workers for their jobs. It would have helped the government and in their own lives.”

Barry made sure that African-American companies got their share of city contracts, though he did a poor job of holding them accountable. In the process, he enriched many political allies.

But wait, there’s more!

Along the way, his management of the government suffered even more. In the halls of the District Building, aides had to deal with a chief executive who was losing control. In 1986, former city administrator Tom Downs stopped into the office of Herb Reid, then Barry’s political adviser.

“How’s Marion?” Downs asked.

“If it walks, he f***s it,” Reid responded. “If it doesn’t, he ingests it.”

Up in Toronto, Rob Ford’s a mess, but a lot of folks think he’s actually been a good mayor. You have to look far and wide to find any indicators moving in the right direction during the Barry terms.

Reflecting an attitude quite common among those who sing the virtues of government, Marion Barry seemed to think he was exempt from paying for it:

After leaving the mayor’s office, he had quit paying taxes. Federal prosecutors went to court to force him to pay back taxes, and in 2005 he pleaded guilty to not filing federal or DC returns after 1999. A judge gave Barry three years’ probation. When he continued to ignore his tax bills, federal prosecutors asked a judge to give him jail time, but she declined. Prosectors brought Barry back to court in 2009 for failing to file his 2007 return. The federal government garnished his council paychecks to collect nearly $200,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest. The District put him on a voluntary payment plan to pay back about $50,000 in back taxes.

Meanwhile, Barry got caught twice crossing ethical lines as a council member.

In February 2010, he admitted to awarding a $15,000 contract to a girlfriend. “I apologize for my actions and lack of sound judgment and for causing great embarrassment to the city and the city council,” he said. His girlfriend had paid him “several thousand dollars,” he said, which he claimed was repayment of a loan. His council colleagues saw it as a kickback, censured Barry, and stripped him of his chairmanship.

In September 2013, the council censured Barry again, this time for accepting $6,800 in cash from two city contractors.

He was not a nice man:

As his health began to fail, Barry’s prejudices went on display. In April 2012, he lashed out at Chinese merchants in his ward: “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops.” His comments were caught on camera the night he won another Ward 8 council primary. He suggested African-American “businesspeople” take their places.

RIP, Marion Barry – may his family and friends find some peace as they cope with their loss. But let’s not let the sadness of his death alter our perception of the historical record. 

Don’t speak ill of the dead… but don’t lie, either.

Tags: Marion Barry

Obama Insists Old System of Deporting Illegals Is the Real Amnesty



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Perhaps the most galling line in last night’s speech:

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules.

Yes, but before last night, they feared deportation. Which is the opposite of an amnesty! Obama said this in a speech right after he boasted of increasing the number of deportations of illegal immigrants for criminal offenses.

Last night Obama insisted that the previous system that attempted to deport people who enter the country illegally is “amnesty,” and letting them stay and giving them work permits isn’t amnesty.

This clearly ranks among the all-time most Orwellian statements by an American president. 

Tags: Illegal Immigration

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The Democrats’ Giant Bet on Voters’ Short Memories



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Democrats’ Giant Bet on Voters’ Short Memories

The Democrats’ plan: Hope that Latino voters love the the executive order quasi-amnesty and “middle-of-the-road” voters forget about it:

The president’s decision to use his executive powers to protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation is bound to draw a backlash from middle-of-the-road white voters. Republicans assailed Obama’s handling of immigration in the midterm elections, catering to a conservative and notably less diverse electorate with ads in states such as Arkansas and New Hampshire. Early polling shows significant suspicion of Obama’s unilateral action: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 48 percent of Americans preemptively opposed to the executive actions, versus 38 percent ready to endorse them.

As a political matter, then, the president’s wager is this: that the voters with the longest memories will be those in the rapidly-growing, next-generation national electorate, heavily inflected by socially progressive young people and a growing Latino population.

Will those middle-of-the-road white voters forget? Note the concession by Politico that one doesn’t have to be an “extreme” “right-wing” “xenophobic” voter to object to this policy.

Mo Elleithee, the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, vowed that the GOP would pay a price for its heated attacks on the White House’s policy: “The rhetoric coming out will come back to haunt them. We are capturing every bit and will make them answer for it. They are not just alienating, they are offending, the [Hispanic] community.”

Republicans believe that Obama is inviting deep punishment with his actions this week. Not only does the GOP sense genuine anger among voters about the ongoing mess on the border, but party leaders say that Obama’s orders will look like pure arrogance, the brazen actions of a discredited president.

Though the GOP has struggled to assemble a viable, diverse coalition in national elections, the party is on a hot streak in large, traditionally Democratic states across the Midwest – big, blue-collar battlegrounds like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, where a certain segment of Democratic-leaning, populist white voters may recoil from what they perceive as overreach on the border.

How confident are they that union members and African Americans will be such long-term fans of this plan? How certain can the administration be that these 3.7 million adult newly not-so-illegal immigrants will find jobs?

A few other points to throw in here. Obama promises:

So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.

How many illegal immigrants will be able to get the documents they’ll need to make their case about length of time in the United States, or ties to family in the United States? How many are literally “undocumented” and came here with the shirts on their backs, or lost their documents during their journeys or life in the U.S.?

For those immigrants who qualify, Salas said it will be important for them to begin securing original copies of documents that will prove how long they have been in this country as well as establish legal family ties that may be important to their case. They may need to go to the consulate of their country of origin, or to their school districts or places of former residence to obtain proof.

Supporting evidence that may be required include birth certificates, family and adoption records, legal guardianship records, school records, passports and other official documents, Salas says.

They may need to prove continuous residency over a period of years, which can be established with pay stubs, utility bills, rental agreements or other ordinary records.

Yes, this decision occurs in the context of the rebuke to the president in the midterms. But this also comes after the president’s promises have been proven to be worthless — if you like your plan you can keep your plan, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, your premiums will go down, the “red line” in Syria, al-Qaeda is “decimated” and ISIS is the “jayvee team”, and so on. (Michael Graham identifies some of Obama’s “if you like your plan” moments in last night’s speech.)

How many illegal immigrants want to come out of the shadows and identify themselves to law enforcement based upon this promise?

Then the question of unforeseen complications arises. After the stimulus, Obamacare, our alleged breakthrough with Iran, our coalition against ISIS and so on, we see a pattern with this administration dealing with complicated problems with an even more complicated solutions. These solutions rarely proceed exactly as planned, and the administration seems blindsided by the surprise complications and problems. They set up the executive-order DREAM Act, then are surprised by droves of unattended children crossing the border. They pass Dodd-Frank; we learn in June, “regulators still haven’t completed key parts, including standards for the mortgage-securities market and tougher regulations for credit-rating firms,” four years after passage. They make grand promises about taking care of veterans and then are shocked to learn about widespread hidden delays and unreported problems. We pledge a few months of “advise and assist” to the Iraqi army, hoping that will change the equation in the fight against ISIS.

What’s going to be the unforeseen consequence of this decision?

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama , amnesty

Hillary Clinton’s Deafening Silence on Obama’s Immigration Executive Order



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Boy, Hillary Clinton has been quiet since the midterms, huh?

Hillary’s past comments on illegal immigration indicate that she is the champion of spectacularly generic comments:

Hillary Rodham Clinton had just finished telling the crowd that North Carolina families could count on Senator Kay Hagan when the chants of Oliver Merino — a 25-year-old whose mother, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, faces deportation — grew louder. He held a sign that read, “Hillary, do you stand with our immigrant families?” and shouted that his mother lives in constant fear of deportation. “I have to say that I understand immigration is an important issue, and we appreciate that,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We thank you for your advocacy.”

Earlier this year, in a “town hall” on CNN, hosted by Christiane Amanpour, Hillary Clinton boldly staked out a position opposing child abandonment as a consequence of deportation policy. On immigration, she pronounced:

The horror of a father or a mother going to work and being picked up and immediately whisked away and children coming home from school to an empty house and nobody can say where their mother or father is, that is just not who we are as Americans.

Her hesitation may be driven by the fact that her spectacular collapse from her position of heavy favorite in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary was triggered in part by her sudden reversal in her position supporting giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. She said the policy proposed by then-governor of New York Eliot Spitzer to give illegal immigrants licenses “made a lot of sense,” and then said, moments later, “I did not say that I thought it should be done.”

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton issued a supportive statement last night.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

The Administration Remains a Die-Hard Liar About Obamacare Enrollment Figures



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It was all a giant scam . . . 

The Obama administration included as many as 400,000 dental plans in a number it reported for enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, an unpublicized detail that helped surpass a goal for 7 million sign-ups.

Without the dental plans, the federal government would have had 6.97 million people with medical insurance under the law known as Obamacare, investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform committee calculated, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.

Blending dental and medical plans let the administration assert that enrollment remained greater than 7 million, the original projection of the Congressional Budget Office. The move also partly obscured the attrition of more than 1 million in the number of people enrolled in medical insurance.

Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, said he didn’t have a comment yet, hours after being asked for one.

. . . which continues the family tradition of elaborate deceptive efforts designed to collect ill-gotten financial gains, aimed at taking advantage of the “stupidity” of Americans.

Worst sequel ever?

Tags: Obamacare

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What if Employers Don’t Want to Hire the 5 Million Illegal Immigrants?



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Hugh Hewitt offers an unexpected argument: The quasi-amnesty the president offers tonight may actually make it tougher for illegal immigrants to find jobs:

The people in the country illegally will know shortly that this stunt tonight does not help them and may in fact hurt them — badly. The collision of what is in essence a letter of recommendation from the president to employers with their genuine worries about liabilities under state law and about their fiduciary duties to their customers is going to be instant, and not to the good of the illegal population. Employers are going to flee the president’s testimonial that, if he were king of the forest, not queen, not duke, not earl, he’d let this person have a green card. Because he’s not king, he cannot bless this person’s employment in the real world of tort liability and state law. He cannot solve the issue of Social Security and unemployment insurance withholding. What he can [do] — and will do tonight — is mark the illegal as someone not worth the trouble of hiring.

The president simply cannot bestow a green card. Just a blessing. An Obama blessing. The blessing of a cheater.

The president’s lawless act will have the apparently contradictory impact of both making life harder for “those in the shadows” by increasing the reluctance of employers to hire the obviously illegal, while at the same time attracting millions more north across the fenceless border. Employers are simply going to be less willing to hire the obviously illegal because of a host of other laws the president cannot change.

Separately, we have to wonder how much of an illegal immigrant’s value to a unscrupulous employer comes from their inability to go to government authorities and complain about mistreatment or unjust employment contracts. They are also much less likely to ever make workman’s-compensation claims, take their entitled meal breaks, or complain about illegal deductions from their pay for work-related tools or materials or transportation, harassment, and other violation of workplace laws.

This 2008 survey found that 37 percent of illegal immigrants were paid wages that violated minimum-wage law; nearly 85 percent of illegal immigrants were not paid the legally required overtime rate by their employers.

Giving a worker this new quasi-legal status also gives them the incentive to complain about low wages, employer mistreatment, and so on. An illegal immigrant who comes forward to take the quasi-amnesty may find himself no longer wanted at his old employer, while the boss keeps using his buddy who didn’t take the quasi-amnesty.

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

Jim Webb, Former Bored Senator, to Run for President



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Jim Webb, the former senator from Virginia who grew bored, frustrated, and uninterested in the Senate after one term, announces he’s running for president in 2016:

In his 14-minute video, he begins with the trite stance that “Americans want solutions, not rhetoric.”

Later he does make a point not heard quite so often in Democratic presidential primaries:

Travel to the Appalachian Mountains where my own ancestors settled in, and whose cultural values I still share, and view the poorest counties in America — who happened to be more than 90 percent white, and who live in the reality that ‘if you’re poor and white, you’re outta sight.’ We cannot sit idly by and accepted that such economic and power divisions are permanent. The Democratic party used to be the place where people like these could come, not for a handout, but for honest respectable handshake, good full-time jobs, quality education, health care they can afford, and a vital overriding reassurance that we are all in this together.

Then again, six years ago, we elected a Democratic senator who found the Senate boring, and we see how that turned out.

Tags: Jim Webb

Obama to Unilaterally Rewrite Immigration Policy With 38 Percent Support



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From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Obama to Announce Plan to Vastly Expand National Pool of Legal Low-Skilled Labor

John Boehner’s office collected 22 times President Obama said he couldn’t ignore Congress and/or create his own immigration law. A couple of the most glaring and sweeping declarations:

“I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with [the president] trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.” (3/31/08)

“I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books. . . . Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.” (7/25/11)

That one’s particularly vivid, because President Obama appears to tee up his own impeachment, declaring that changing the laws on his own violates the Constitution and would represent a high crime or misdemeanor. Of course, Obama would welcome that; he could play the victim, it would awaken and stir a depressed Democratic base, and there’s just no way the two-thirds of the Senate would vote to remove President Obama from office. If, as you suspect, President Obama wants Republicans to try to impeach him, this raises the disturbing prospect that the next two years will feature Obama attempting to provoke an impeachment fight by committing more and more acts that violate the Constitution.

“This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency. The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed. And Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system. And what that means is that we have certain obligations to enforce the laws that are in place even if we think that in many cases the results may be tragic.” (2/14/13)

In light of this, it is not the least bit outrageous for critics of Obama to accuse him of acting like an emperor.

Plus, you know, he’s starting to walk around in black robes with an ominous John Williams score behind him.

The Oval Office remodeling is finished.

Moving along . . . 

What I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. What I’ve done is to use my prosecutorial discretion, because you can’t enforce the laws across the board for 11 or 12 million people, there aren’t the resources there. What we’ve said is focus on folks who are engaged in criminal activity, focus on people who are engaged in gang activity. Do not focus on young people, who we’re calling DREAMers. . . . That already stretched my administrative capacity very far. But I was confident that that was the right thing to do. But at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘You have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books. (3/16/14)

Paraphrasing something Jonah said on the cruise, the motto of progressives when it comes to political power is that they always run for daylight — whatever avenue to enacting their desired policies is the proper one. If they can get what they want through a referendum, they’ll tout that as the most natural expression of the popular will. If they can get what they want through legislation, they’ll do it legislatively. If they can get what they want through a president’s executive orders, they’ll do it that way. If all of those avenues are blocked, they’ll try to do it through the courts. If none of those work, they’ll do it through bureaucratic regulations.

The silver lining: All of this can be undone by an executive order from the next president. And just as the White House seemed to have no idea of the kind of Republican wave they would experience in the midterms, they are walking around with way too much confidence about the popularity of this move:

Forty-eight percent oppose Obama taking executive action on immigration — which could come as soon as later this week — while 38 percent support it; another 14 percent have no opinion or are unsure.

This decision will get less popular after dominating a news cycle.

If this were really a good idea, Obama would have done it before the election. He knows this is going to invite a backlash, which is why he had to wait.

Republicans an issue that we can use to drive a wedge right down the middle of the Democratic coalition — liberals on one side, unions and African-Americans on the other. While some Republicans want a path to citizenship and some don’t, just about everybody on the Right loathes the idea of the president doing this by fiat. They have a ready-made argument, that President Obama and his allies took action to make life easier for illegal immigrants, while they make life harder for you.

Also note this detail in NBC News poll:

A majority of Americans (56 percent) want Congress to take the lead role in setting policy for the country, versus those who prefer President Obama to do so (33 percent).

. . . 39 percent support creating legal status for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally…

That’s not likely voters, that’s not registered voters; that’s respondents.

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

Casual Attire for a Casual Ending of the Separation of Powers



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If you want to stretch the powers of the presidency beyond all recognition, to insist “prosecutorial discretion” now means not enforcing the law for millions of people who violated the law by entering the country illegally, and to claim unilateral power to change the makeup of American society in the face of stiff public and congressional opposition . . . at least wear a suit jacket, right? This is a special occasion.

 

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama Staffer: Before Jarrett, Our Campaign Ignored Minority Staffers



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Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Obama, writes in the Daily Beast that Valerie Jarrett “saved the Obama campaign” and is “indispensable.” He paints an ugly picture of Obama’s presidential campaign before her arrival:

Our young, diverse campaign staff didn’t always feel heard by the powers that be. There were strategic recommendations, views on where the candidate should go, and political intelligence among these lower and middle ranks of staffers, but few places to send them. This resulted in missed opportunities, depressed morale — and declining poll numbers in states where the support of young people, African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities was key.

That’s when Valerie stepped in. She had functionally been a volunteer and an occasional advisor up to that point, but after the Lewis disaster it was clear she needed to take a larger role. So she more formally joined the ranks of the campaign’s senior leadership. And as soon as she became a regular presence at our Michigan Avenue headquarters, things started to change.

Young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers felt like they had a listening ear and advocate in the upper tiers of the campaign — at times after making a quiet trip to Valerie’s office . . . 

Valerie brought a level of empathy and spirit to the hardened machinery of elections that we sorely needed in order to match our hopeful rhetoric with the reality of the campaign. Perhaps more importantly, she protected and elevated causes and voices — diverse voices — that would have otherwise never been heard.

Does he realize what he’s saying? That without the presence of Valerie Jarrett, the Barack Obama for President campaign would have excluded, ignored, or taken for granted young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers and, by extension, voters with the same characteristics? That the only thing that kept the black, relatively young candidate in touch with these staffers, and treating them with appropriate respect and appreciation was Jarrett?

How do you feel about that characterization, David Axelrod? How about you, Robert Gibbs? David Plouffe? Penny Pritzker? Jon Favreau?

Tags: Valerie Jarrett , Barack Obama , David Axelrod

Senate Democrats Vote to Reject Keystone, Elect Bill Cassidy in Runoff



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From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Senate Democrats Vote to Reject Keystone, Elect Bill Cassidy in Runoff

In the end, Senate Democrats really didn’t care whether Senator Mary Landrieu came back to join them or not.

In a dramatic vote, the Senate rejected a controversial new energy pipeline Tuesday evening, dealing a serious blow to the re-election prospects of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and leaving Republicans itching for a fight next year on the issue.

On a 59 to 41 vote, Landrieu lost her bid to pass legislation meant to compel the Obama White House to approve the nearly 1,700-mile, $7.6 billion Keystone XL pipeline, which if built would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil a day from western Canada into the American heartland.

Already six years in the making, the Keystone fight has become the rallying cry for Landrieu, a three-term senator facing a run-off election Dec. 6. For the past week she has placed a political bet on her ability to pass the legislation as a demonstration of her clout in the Senate.

Keep in mind, most of her colleagues voted “no” even with the implied-but-never-quite-explicitly-stated threat of a presidential veto! And they still wouldn’t vote to give Mary Landrieu an alleged “accomplishment” before the runoff! Why are they so disinclined to help her out? What, does she owe them money? Do they owe her money?

Democrats voting to build the Keystone pipeline included Begich, Bennet, Carper, Casey, Donnelly, Hagan, Heitkamp, Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Pryor, Tester, Walsh, and Warner.

Begich, Hagan, Pryor, Walsh and almost certainly Landrieu will not be there next year. If all 54 Republican Senators vote for Keystone, that means if all of the above Democrats vote for it again, it will pass with 63 votes.

And then President Obama will probably veto it.

Dana Perino asks, “Dems are in organizational free fall. NEVER should’ve taken vote. Why go through the pain & draw so much attention to issue while losing?”

Tough night, senator.

Tags: Mary Landrieu , Keystone Pipeline , Senate Democrats , Bill Cassidy

Gruber: GOP Governors’ Refusal to Expand Medicaid ‘Almost Awesome In Its Evilness’, Blames ‘Racial Reasons’



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Who’s up for another Jonathan Gruber video?

On April 9, 2014, Gruber appeared on the  “Curbside Consult” interview series with Harold Pollack, at healthinsurance.org;  the host introduced Gruber as the “architect of Obamacare”, and Gruber made no objection.

Pollack says, “One of the things that’s really striking to me is there’s a politics of impunity towards poor people, particularly non-white poor people that is almost a feature rather than a bug in the internal politics in some of these states, not to cover people under Medicaid, even if it’s financially very advantageous to do so.”

Gruber’s response:

That’s a great way to put it. There’s larger principles at stake here. When these states are turning – not just turning down covering the poor people – but turning down the federal stimulus that would come with that. So the price they are willing … They are not just not interested in covering poor people, they are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.

Ironically, later in the conversation, Gruber admits that the costs of Medicaid expansion are increasing as the number of patients on Medicaid grows rapidly:

Pollack: Medicaid is effectively becoming the 900-pound gorilla in the health insurance market in Kentucky. Something like one-third of the non-elderly population is going to be covered by Medicaid or related programs. How do you think that’s going to change the nature of Medicaid as it takes on such a large swath of the population?

Gruber: I think that’s a great question and I think the big issue is going to be: Can Medicaid continue to pay its doctors so poorly as it’s covering a larger and larger share of the population. Part of the reason Medicaid is cheap is because it pays doctors so poorly. Can that continue when it’s covering a third of the population? I’m not entirely sure that’s possible.

Later in the conversation, Gruber attributes the desire to cut Medicaid spending to racism:

I really believe that if we could politically help explain the costs to society of cutting provider rates, of cutting back Medicaid, I think we’d get the majority of people to support strengthening that program. I think it’s just because of racial reasons and other things, we just haven’t managed to get through with that message.

Your tax dollars at work, America.

Tags: Jonathan Gruber , Obamacare , Medicaid

Gruber’s ‘Remarkable Hubris’ Denounced By... Jay Carney.



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Jonathan Gruber is “someone who helped write Obamacare” who “speaks from the ivory tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and by extension, the American Congress,” says… former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney?!

Now we’ll have to see if Gruber responds, “I learned it from watching you!

Tags: Jay Carney , Jonathan Gruber , Obamacare

Obama on Unilateral Amnesty in 2011: ‘That’s Not How Our Democracy Functions. That’s Not How Our Constitution Is Written.’



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President Obama, speaking to the National Council of La Raza, July 25, 2011:

Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. (Applause.) And believe me, right now dealing with Congress –

AUDIENCE: Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can!

THE PRESIDENT: Believe me — believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. (Laughter.) I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. (Laughter.) But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Change it!

THE PRESIDENT: That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.

When did unilateral executive action become “how our system works” or “how our democracy functions”? When was the Constitution rewritten?

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration , Immigration Reform

The Coming Cries About GOP ‘Disrespect for the Presidency’



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Coming Cries About Republican ‘Disrespect for the Presidency’

This is a DSCC ad for Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, airing on KZBE, an Urban Adult Contemporary radio station based in Berwick, Louisiana:

Have you heard the crazy stuff that Bill Cassidy, Bobby Jindal and the Republicans are always saying about President Barack Obama? They have shown our president so much disrespect — from playing the race card in commercials, talking about trying to impeach him, to lying about the progress the country has made under his leadership.

Do your remember when the stock market was at an all-time low under the Republican-led administration?

Now the stock market has more than doubled under President Obama, but they lie, saying the economy is horrible. Do you remember how bad the unemployment numbers were under Republicans? Now unemployment is lower than it as been in fourteen years. More lies by the Republicans. The president needs you to have his back, now more than ever.

Now, even by the standards of dishonest campaign ads, some of these claims are astounding. For example, you can indisputably declare the stock market hit hard times during the Great Recession – the closing low of 6,547.05 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average on March 9, 2009, represented a 54 percent drop in 17 months. But that’s not the same as “an all-time low.” It wasn’t even the all-time steepest drop; the Dow fell 90 percent during the Great Depression.

The claim that “unemployment is lower than it has been in fourteen years” is just flat wrong. The current 5.8 percent unemployment rate – driven heavily by the declining workforce participation rate – is the lowest since July 2008.

But what really jumps out is the declaration, “They have shown our president so much disrespect.” The allegation of “playing the race card in commercials” is pretty laughable considering the Democrats’ incendiary tactics this past cycle; the objection to minor GOP figures “talking about trying to impeach him,” is interesting considering parallel Democratic talk of impeaching Bush; and the “lying about the progress the country has made under his leadership” is, as shown above, false based upon the erroneous criteria they cite. But what’s more, why would an argument about the “progress” or lack thereof under a president be inherently disrespectful? This is redefining “respect” to require “agreement.”

Watch for this maneuver more in the coming months. Barack Obama has lost the Democratic control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Democrats in both chambers are less likely to go along with Obama after these awful midterms. He’s lost the public’s trust. The media is more critical than it used to be (if not as critical as conservatives wish).  Many of his policies are flopping. Attention is shifting to Hillary. Accusing opponents of racism, greed, and xenophobia flopped as a tactic in the midterm elections.

What does he have left? The presidency.

Expect to see a lot more charges that “Republicans aren’t showing respect for the presidency” in these final years. The question is whether anyone will notice that the allegedly disrespected president shows no respect for the Constitutionally-mandated role of Congress.

This is not a new maneuver, of course:

Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis said she was “silenced” by CNBC when management told her she was “disrespecting the office of the president” by reporting about Obamacare.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mary Landrieu

A Lengthy Debate Is Useless If It Isn’t Honest.



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President Obama, yesterday:

The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

We had a year-long debate, Ed. I mean, go back and look at your stories.The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered.

As the Washington Post notes, “Gruber is well-known in health-care circles as one of the intellectual godfathers of Obamacare and the very similar law in Massachusetts (sometimes called Romneycare)”, and was paid $400,000 by the Department of Health and Human Services. So Obama hides behind the fact that Gruber was a contractor; what’s more, if Gruber were not a central figure in the creation of Obamacare, why is he speaking at all of these health care industry conferences?

Obama insists the debate about Obamacare was “lengthy,” which is not the same as saying it was honest. In fact, that’s the point of Gruber’s controversial comment — that all of that lengthy debate included writing the bill ”in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes” in order to ensure that lengthy debate wasn’t an honest debate — because they knew they would lose an honest debate! “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay. So it was written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in — if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in sick people get money it would not have passed. Okay.”

The Gruber/Obama philosophy is to lie to ensure that no one knows what is actually going to be enacted into law; thus the amount of time spent debating is moot. As he put it so bluntly, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical in getting the thing to pass.”

It is not exculpatory to insist you spent a whole year lying to us.

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama Is Now Washington’s Most Powerful Obstructionist.



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In light of overwhelming public opinion like this opposing Obamacare, doesn’t President Obama seem… obstructionist?

Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after the ACA was passed.

The current 37% [approval] comes on the heels of last week’s midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.

Repeal is highly unlikely, given Obama’s veto power, but the law’s new low in approval — and new high in disapproval (56%) — could potentially have an impact on its future. The president himself has acknowledged he will consider modifications to the law, which could include repealing the tax on medical devices.

Here’s the Republican Party, promising to pass legislation reflecting the will of the people, and one extremist is blocking enactment of the popular will. Isn’t this an “unyielding consistency and a complete disconnect with the wishes of all except the most vocal part of their base that enforces extremism”, as was claimed about Republicans?

Isn’t the refusal to go along with the majority on Obamacare, or threatening to veto the Keystone Pipeline, or an executive branch effort to regulate the Internet without legislation, or an insistence upon an unpopular deal with Iran a form of ”sabotage governing“? Doesn’t it amount to “a refusal to govern“? Isn’t this “doubling-down on opposition, and refusing to budge“?

Of course, of course, it’s different when he does it.

President No.

Tags: Obamacare , Barack Obama , Keystone Pipeline , Iran

Talking 2016 on the NR Post-Election Cruise...



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From the first post-cruise edition of the Morning Jolt

What (Some of) You Missed on the National Review Post-Election Cruise

Beats a polar vortex, doesn’t it?

A bit of 2016 talk from our recently-concluded cruise…

Allen West pointed out you don’t often see two presidential candidates from the same state competing against each other for long – their bases of support among donors, activists, and volunteers usually overlap and they can’t sustain two candidates simultaneously.  At this very early date, the potential Republican 2016 field includes two candidates from Florida (Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio), two from Texas (Ted Cruz and Rick Perry) two from Wisconsin (Scott Walker and perhaps Paul Ryan).  

Ned Ryun, founder of American Majority and CEO of Voter Gravity, mentioned Carly Fiorina’s name more than once as possible figure on the 2016 GOP ticket.

West named Ohio Gov. John Kasich as a potential presidential candidate who could come on strong; Ryun could not suppress his sense that Ohio conservative grassroots activists have some serious gripes with Kasich.

John Fund pointed out that there’s actually several mini-primaries playing out in the coming year: the money primary, the staffing primary (who can build a national network of supporters), the consultant primary (who’s hiring the campaign managers, ad men, pollsters, organizers, and so on, with big wins under their belt from previous cycles), the ideas primary, and for lack of a better term, the “voice of social conservatives” primary.

I asked my panel of Ryun, West, Eliana Johnson, Guy Benson and Fund to name the 2016 Republican ticket. Most hesitated to make a public prediction, but said it was likely to be a governor and someone who had demonstrated an ability to win in blue or purple states. When I declared, tongue-in-cheek, that ticket had already been decided in advance and that the correct answer was Scott Walker-Susana Martinez, the audience seemed pretty darn pleased by that combination.

Most of the NR cruisers I spoke to expressed overwhelming hesitation about Jeb Bush —and maybe hesitation is the kind way of putting it — out of concerns of the dynasty argument and his stances on a path to citizenship and Common Core that are at odds with many in the grassroots.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said his organization has the largest and most far-reaching operations in Florida. “If the Republican candidate doesn’t win Florida in 2016, he doesn’t win the presidency,” he said.

Bing West thinks that someone in the Obama administration’s national security inner circle will leave in the not-too-distant future, perhaps Chuck Hagel or Susan Rice.

Jay Nordlinger: “Ralph Reed is like the Dick Clark of the conservative movement – we get older, but he looks the same, decade after decade.”

Our Kathryn Lopez, who is roughly as Latina as Elizabeth Warren is Native American, revealed she was invited to a White House Cinco de Mayo celebration, presumably entirely because of her surname.

Jumping off a John Fund comment, I don’t see how Hillary Clinton can be the first woman president when Valerie Jarrett has been running the country for six years.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez revealed that in his cartoons of President Obama, he usually includes ashtrays and cigarette boxes, and when he draws Obama sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, the photos on the desk are all of himself.

If you didn’t go on the cruise and find yourself wishing you had, the next one is from July 18-25, 2015, departs from Seattle and sails to Alaska. Our guest speakers already include retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann, pollster Pat Caddell, economist Art Laffer, author Andrew Klavan, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich and of course a large gaggle of NR editors and contributors, including me.

Tags: 2016 , Allen West , Carly Fiorina , Jeb Bush , Scott Walker

Chelsea Clinton, ‘Woman of the Year,’ ‘Mom of the Year’



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You may recall one of my persistent gripes is the media’s insistence that we treat Chelsea Clinton as if she’s some sort of extraordinary achiever, when in fact she’s “a young woman whose adult life consists mostly of stepping through doors opened by her parents’ power and meandering through the highest levels of high society without actually doing much.” Our one glimpse of her in a public role was her widely-panned, $600,000-per-year, part-time work as an increasingly infrequent NBC News correspondent; she’s also been the keynote speaker at SXSW and was named assistant vice provost at New York University at age 30, before finishing her dissertation.

This week Chelsea Clinton honored as one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” and Katie Couric decreed, “I think it’s safe to say, probably a ‘Mom of the Year.’” As Carmine Sabia notes, she’s been a mom for six weeks. 

Enough, already.

Somewhat ironically, back in 2010, I was one of the few on the Right urging others to stop complaining about her lavish wedding, contending, ”Bill Clinton’s out of office and nobody elected Chelsea to anything. Chelsea’s never claimed to be a woman of the people, or salt of the earth, or humble or anything. For most of her adult life, she’s lived her life and avoided the public spotlight.” Now Chelsea Clinton is in the public spotlight and we’re being instructed to think of her as extraordinary, without any good answers about what she’s done, or what she would have done, without her father’s name or her mother’s influence.

Tags: Chelsea Clinton

Joe Wilson’s ‘YOU LIE!’ Wasn’t Wrong. It Was Prescient.



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President Obama, back in September 2009: “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.: “YOU LIE!”

Fact-checkers: How terrible Wilson shouted this! “Obama can make a pretty thorough case that reform doesn’t apply to those here illegally.”

Fast-forward to 2014, and lo and behold, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell “called for extending Obamacare benefits to DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants.”

Burwell was speaking on a public Google hangout with prominent Latina bloggers to promote Saturday’s opening of the Obamacare enrollment period when she shifted to her thoughts on immigration reform.

“DREAMers are not able to be covered in the marketplace. And this is an issue that I think is more than a health care issue — it is an immigration issue,” Burwell said in response to a question about whether families with mixed immigration statuses can get coverage.

“And I think everyone probably knows that this administration feels incredibly strongly about the fact that we need to fix that. We need to reform the system and make the changes that we need that will lead to benefits in everything from health care to economics to so many things — a very important step that we need to take as a nation.”

Only legal immigrants are eligible for Obamacare benefits, but liberal and pro-immigration groups have asked that Obamacare benefits be extended to illegal immigrants as well. Several groups have also advocated for the Obama administration to mandate Obamacare exchange eligibility for DREAMers, a term used to describe  illegal immigrants who are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.

Wilson wasn’t wrong. He was prescient.

Tags: Joe Wilson , Barack Obama , Obamacare , Illegal Immigration

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