The Campaign Spot

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

Montana Democrats Select an... Unusual Candidate for Senate


Meanwhile, out in Montana: “More than 100 Democratic activists in Montana gathered in Helena on Saturday, where they nominated state Rep. Amanda Curtis for the U.S. Senate at a hastily arranged convention. She will face Rep. Steve Daines, the Republican nominee and front-runner.”

Meet Amanda Curtis, and her thoughts on Christians, anarchy, the debt, the fact that Montanans will turn into “Frankenstein” without Medicaid expansion, and so on:

Heck of a pick, Montana Democrats!

Tags: Montana , Amanda Curtis , Steve Daines

New Tillis Ad: Washington Is Out of Touch


In North Carolina’s Senate race, Republican Thom Tillis enjoys a small lead over incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in recent polls, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee committed $9 million to help Hagan last week. Television advertising is going to be one of the key battlegrounds in this fight, and Tillis is starting the week with a new ad, declaring, “Washington has completely lost touch with working Americans.”

“The Senate could use more people who had to sweat for a living, and fewer of the politicians who made this mess.”

Tags: Thom Tillis , Kay Hagan , North Carolina


Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain Prosecutors


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain in a Prosecutor’s Office

From Right Now Strategies:

Here’s the gist:

A day after a grand jury indicted him on two felony charges, a defiant Rick Perry on Saturday called the prosecution of his conduct a “farce” and “abuse of power.”

The governor promised to fight the charges and concluded brief remarks by bluntly saying, “I intend to win.”

During a news conference at the Capitol broadcast live on national TV, Perry blamed partisan politics for the indictment and focused, in part, on the behavior of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose drunken driving arrest last year prompted him to seek her resignation.

“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said.

Perry faces charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, which together carry maximum sentences of 109 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. He has not yet turned himself in at the Travis County Jail but is expected to do so in the next several days, when he will be fingerprinted and photographed.

Travis County grand jurors delivered the indictment 14 months after Perry said he would withhold a $7.5 million, two-year state allotment to Lehmberg’s office unless she stepped down.

Lehmberg did not resign, and Perry carried out that threat, saying he would not grant the appropriation because Lehmberg had lost the public’s confidence with her DWI arrest. Her blood alcohol level was 0.239, and while in jail, the district attorney was belligerent.

Perry’s argument: “I very clearly, I very publicly said that as long as that individual was going to be running that agency — I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her,” Perry said. “I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision about whether it was a proper use of state money to go to that agency. And I vetoed it. That’s what the rule of law is really about, Shannon. And I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. And if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision.”

Quite a few folks on the Left don’t think there’s a legitimate criminal case here, and that we’re witnessing a reckless attempt to paint routine acts of politics – i.e., vetoing a budget as leverage – represents corruption.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

The conventions of reporting —  which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question —  make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is…

The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.

Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”

Alan Dershowitz: “ ‘This is another example of the criminalization of party differences, said Dershowitz, a prominent scholar on United States constitutional law and criminal law who writes the “Legally Speaking” column for Newsmax. ‘This idea of an indictment is an extremely dangerous trend in America, whether directed at [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay or [former President] Bill Clinton.’”

Remember Tom DeLay? Another prominent Republican who was charged with iffy crimes by an outspoken prosecutor. DeLay was indicted in 2005. Then there were literally years of delays and legal efforts to get the charges dismissed. The jury reached its verdict in 2010. DeLay was convicted of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering… and then in 2013, the convictions were overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals. So we may be watching the first shots of a legal battle that will go on for years, maybe a nearly a decade.

There’s been a lot of buzz that this could actually rebound to Perry’s benefit, if he intends to run for president in 2016. He’ll be able to point to this as an example of the politicization of law enforcement and, in related controversies, the U.S. Department of Justice.

Or… in light of the lengthy but fruitless “John Doe investigation” of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, this appears to be the progressives’ newest form of “lawfare”: take routine activities of governors and insist, before a grand jury, that they are crimes. Sometimes, like in the case of Chris Christie, a GOP governor or his staff will give his opponents a scandalous opportunity. But even if the charges are baseless, the headlines of “GOVERNOR INDICTED” inflicts the political damage the progressives seek.

Tags: Rick Perry , Scandals , Democrats , Laws

Already Insufferable Speculation About a Clinton-Castro Ticket


Also in today’s Jolt:

Urgh: Already Insufferable Speculation About a Clinton-Castro Ticket

Because it’s perfectly normal for a newly-appointed 39-year-old Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to be discussed as a potential running mate, right?

As she expands her political network in advance of an expected presidential run, Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband have been cultivating an important ally who some believe could become her vice presidential running mate.

Former president Bill Clinton invited Julian Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and incoming Obama Cabinet secretary, to the Clintons’ home in Washington last week for a private dinner that friends described as a chance for Democratic leaders from different generations to become better acquainted.

The fact that Democrats continue to insist Castro is ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency indicates how intense and unyielding identity politics and television charisma grip their criteria for a potential national leader.

(Chuck Kerr, the artist at Current who created the memorable image above, invites Campaign Spot readers to build their own Castro campaign posters, proudly endorsing Castro for president, governor, senator, mayor, Jedi master, or Top Chef contestant.)

As I keep pointing out, Julian Castro failed to tangibly improve his city much in five years as mayor:

Castro leveraged his rise-from-humble-roots narrative and the occasional wacky joke into national press coverage that most senators and governors would envy – major national magazine profilesa TED talk, an appearance on Meet the Press, a six-figure memoir deal. It’s fair to wonder whether Castro would get the same attention if he were not a member of a demographic increasingly important for national politics.

Castro’s record suggests that, if he is in fact nominated and confirmed as secretary of HUD, he will be one of the most-covered and most-discussed members of President Obama’s Cabinet. His record also suggests that he will leave the department in about the same condition as when he entered it.

Tags: Julian Castro , Hillary Clinton

The Slow, Gradual Change in America’s Police


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Slow, Gradual Change in America’s Police

In the past ten to twenty years, the appearance of the police in our cities, towns and counties changed dramatically; the unnerving suspicion is that the mentality of our police changed as well.

Kevin Williamson grew up with Peter Pat and the Policeman; I grew up with Sergeant Murphy:

Yes, I grew up remarkably sheltered in small-town New Jersey in the late 70s and 1980s. But if a person of, say, Generation X or older is asked to picture the police, they probably picture a man or, less frequently, a woman, with a walkie-talkie, handcuffs, gun, and sharp blue, instantly-recognizable uniform.

Not this:

Kevin offered this picture with the simple caption, “aesthetics matter”…

… and for a half-moment I thought, “man, the villains in Star Wars VII look awesome.”

Let’s begin with all the proper stipulations: Of course, we all want the police protected from harm. Yes, they face danger on our behalf. Yes, they need to defend themselves and us with lethal force at times. Yes, in the face of a rioting crowd, they need to be able to apply – and threaten to apply – sufficient force to quell the riot quickly.

But one of the ways we as Americans responded to 9/11 was to throw gobs of money at first responders, to prepare police forces large and small to respond to any imaginable horrific emergency – a Beslan-style attack on a school, an Oklahoma City style bombing, heavily-armed criminals like the North Hollywood shootout. In theory, this was a good idea. It may still be a good idea.

But it had side effects. One is that the Department of Homeland Security started popping out military-grade equipment, weapons, armor and gadgets like a Pez dispenser, resulting in top-grade hardware in almost comically small towns:

The city of Keene, N.H., population 23,000, nestled in a valley in the state’s southwest corner, may not be the first place that comes to mind as a terrorism target, but this summer it will take delivery on a $286,000 armored vehicle, compliments of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Lenco “BearCat,” fitted with thermal imaging, radiation and explosive gas detection systems, gun mounts and rotating hatch is but one example of the kind of quasi-military equipment that has been acquired by local and state law enforcement agencies through billions of dollars worth of federal grant money in the last decade.

Just what they need if the annual Pumpkin Festival gets out of hand.

One big question is whether this represents a wise use of federal taxpayer money. But another big question is whether a country can outfit its police forces in the weapons, tactics, armor, vehicles, and tools of an army and not see a change in the behavior of its police forces.

Once a police forces is outfitted with the tools of war, who are they going to fight? This type of equipment usually goes to SWAT teams, which usually refers to Special Weapons and Tactics. (It’s worth noting that Los Angeles Police Department’s team was originally referred to as the “Special Weapons Assault Team.”) But notice that first word, “Special.” This presumably refers to uniquely dangerous sets of circumstances, primarily situations where armed assailants endanger the lives of civilians. This country appeared to have fairly clear views on the distinction between the role and responsibilities of the military and the role and responsibilities of the police since, oh, say, Posse Comitatus. Now the satire site Clickhole runs a faux-fashion feature asking, “Who Wore It Better: Police or Military?

We live in the era of increasingly common “no-knock raids”,  with roughly 70,000 to 80,000 raids annually.

As a kid, you’re (possibly) taught a simple concept: obey the law, and you won’t get arrested. And the law is usually clear and easily-learned. If the sign says “no parking”, you can’t park there. You can look up the legal code; to avoid getting arrested, you just have to follow those written-down rules.

But the “failure to obey a lawful police order” misdemeanor on the books in most places seems like a formula for trouble. The law is largely intended for situations like, “back away from the accident scene” or “don’t touch that” or other circumstances where a civilian could interfere with police business.

It’s the only law that Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly could conceivably be charged with breaking when they were handcuffed and taken into custody Wednesday night; both were released without any charges. Suddenly the law isn’t necessarily what’s written down or posted; it’s whatever the guy with the badge, gun, and handcuffs says it is. To avoid getting arrested, you have to obey the guy with the badge, and his definition of a lawful order is up to him and his colleagues.

This is America. We don’t have to accept any of this as the price of a safe society.

And at least last night, the evidence suggested that cops in regular gear, interacting with the protesters in a non-confrontational way, worked well:

Hundreds of protesters gathered and marched near the flashpoint where riots and civil unrest have unfolded here in recent days, but no violent clashes were reported as of early Friday morning.

Citizens protesting the death of black Missouri teenager Michael Brown appeared to be getting along peacefully as they marched alongside state troopers, who took over operational control of the protest scenes Thursday.

Several marchers stopped to shake hands with police and troopers. Some people stopped to hug and chat with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol, who was born and grew up near this community and is now overseeing security.

The scene stood in stark contrast clashes earlier this week when officers wore riot gear.


Tags: Police , law enforcement , Libertarianism


What’s On Right Now?


The lead issue on right now? Raising the minimum wage.

Not the U.S. military action in Iraq, not the efforts to address the humanitarian crisis on the border, not the president’s statement on the situation in Missouri, not our diplomatic efforts in the Middle East or addressing Russian moves in Ukraine. Not even “comprehensive immigration reform” or Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act…


Tags: Barack Obama

Senator Mark Warner, Road Runway Warrior


The office of Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, periodically issues press releases informing his constituents that he’s “on the road” or “hitting the road.” It evokes images of the senator out riding like Jack Kerouac.

Apparently “the road” refers to the short drive to the nearest airport, where Warner meets his chartered airplane, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

USA Today offered a graphic, contrasting Warner’s private plane rides with the actual car rides of his fellow Democratic senator, Tim Kaine:

His spokesperson defended his travel, saying: “Sen. Warner is a road warrior, and he insists on a schedule that goes from dawn to dusk.”

Road warrior, runway warrior… easy to mix that up.

The Virginian Pilot editorial board wrote Saturday, “All explanations aside, chartering a plane when a car would suffice is precisely the kind of spending that makes Americans furious with the federal government. Virginia isn’t Alaska. Or Texas. It’s less than 400 miles from D.C. to Bristol.”

The campaign of Warner’s rival, Ed Gillespie, identified at least six other instances when Senator Warner has touted in a press release that he’s “on the road”… when he was actually chartering private luxury planes and charging them to taxpayers:

1.       On April 18, 2011 Senator Warner charged taxpayers for $3,586 in chartered flights to travel 140 miles to West Point when he said in a press release he was “on the road.”

2.       On August 16, 2011 Senator Warner charged taxpayers $3,160 in chartered private air travel to the Eastern Shore while notifying the press in a release that he was “on the road.”

3.       On July 20, 2012 Senator Warner charged taxpayers for $5,837 in chartered flights from DC, Danville, Lynchburg, and back home to DC while trumpeting in a press release he was “on the road” to the same destinations.

4.       A month later on August 22, 2012, Senator Warner said he was back “on the road” to talk about tough choices in the federal budget, on a trip that actually started with taxpayers footing the charter plane bill for Warner’s return from moving his daughter in to college in North Carolina, as reported by NBC12. The total cost of multiple luxury charters for this trip was $11,037.  

5.   USA Today reported on Warner embarking last year on what “his office trumpeted as a four-day, 1,000-mile trip across his state, with press releases noting he ‘woke up early to hit the road,’ making stops at a minor league ballpark, a craft brewery and a Roanoke rail yard, among others.

But for several hundred of those miles, Warner was not hitting the road — he was flying a chartered plane at a cost totaxpayers of $8,500.”

6.    When Senator Warner reported to his email list that he was back “on the road” a month later, September 20 last year, it that time cost taxpayers $7,551 in charter luxury jet fees from Senator Warner’s favorite charter company, Zen Air.

7.     And when Senator Warner purported to be “on the road” in a press release January 20 of this year, a few days after Ed Gillespie announced his Senate campaign, taxpayers later got the bill for a $3,462 chartered luxury flight.  

It’s all perfectly legal, although some may ask if it’s such a good use of taxpayer money, and a rather inconvenient habit for any lawmaker who wants to claim to be a fiscal conservative or populist.

It’s probably too much to expect Warner to cover these costs himself; he’s only the second-wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth estimated at $257 million.

Tags: Mark Warner , Ed Gillespie , Virginia

The DSCC Just Put $9 Million Behind Hagan. Your Move, Republicans.


Also in today’s Jolt, a clear indicator of where the DSCC thinks they absolutely must win in November:

Democrats Bet All Their Chips — Well, Almost All — on North Carolina

Here’s the bad news: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just committed more than $9 million dollars to help Senator Kay Hagan in her reelection bid in North Carolina — a big, big sum for a national committee in one state.

Here’s the good news: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just committed more than $9 million dollars to help Sen. Kay Hagan — meaning she must need it. You don’t spend a sum like that willy-nilly.

The ad buy, the largest so far in North Carolina, would be paid out through the end of the campaign. It reflects both the outside interest in a race that will help decide control of the Senate and, some say, concern about Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.

“It tells me a couple things,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Washington-based Cook Political Report. “One, that she really is in trouble. They’re not going to spend that kind of money defending an incumbent who’s in reasonably good shape.

“Two, they’re going to do the negative ads because I don’t think her approval ratings can take any more hits.”

Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the buy signals that Democrats have hit the “panic button.”

“The DSCC very clearly believes that if Kay Hagan loses North Carolina, their majority is gone,” he said in a release.

If you’re the type who likes giving to campaigns, maybe you can throw some bucks at Thom Tillis, and help balance out the DSCC’s big spending.


He’s got her back.

Tags: Kay Hagan , DSCC , North Carolina , Thom Tillis

Senate Democrats Accidentally Admit They Don’t Want Their Jobs


If indeed, as Politico reports, Senate Democrats want President Obama to “make immigration changes through executive action” — changes that they themselves are not willing to vote for in legislative form… why do they want to be Senators?

At that point, you’re no longer a representative of the people, crafting legislation and law through the constitutionally-established process that dates back to the founding. You’re the Executive Order Cheerleading Squad.

Why would anyone vote for a lawmaker who wants to completely abandon their role in the process of making law?

Apparently he doesn’t really want his job.

Tags: Senate Democrats , Immigration , Barack Obama

American Liberals Experience ‘The Great Reset’ of Foreign Policy


From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Great Reset: Liberals Suddenly Realize Their Ideas Don’t Work After All

Suddenly, we’re experiencing the “Great Reset.”

No, not this one…

We’re experiencing the one where America’s largely liberal political elites suddenly realize a lot of hard truths that many voices on the Right were saying all along: a U.S. troop presence in Iraq could help prevent chaos and genocide. Islamists want to reestablish a Caliphate. Vladimir Putin is not a reasonable guy. The United Nations is useless. The worldview and policy solutions expressed by Barack Obama during his rise in 2007 and 2008 were hopelessly naïve.

Any day now, they’ll suddenly realize Iran wants nuclear weapons and isn’t likely to give them up at the negotiating table!

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times breaks it to his readers that no, the Iraq War didn’t really end; it just went on hiatus, and the American sabbatical just ended:

The Obama Doctrine, which has evolved through painful trial and error (see Libya and Syria), says the United States won’t use military force except when vital U.S. interests are threatened. But the “vital interest” exceptions Obama has cited include international terrorism, other threats to U.S. citizens and genocide — and all three are present in Iraq…

Indeed, the stakes in this war are immeasurably larger than the safety of Americans in Kurdistan (they could have been evacuated) or even the lives of thousands of Iraqi Yazidis on a mountain (although, yes, they deserved rescue too)…

Even without American boots on the ground, Obama has entered the United States in its fourth Iraq war. It won’t be over quickly. As the president said, this is going to be a long-term project.

So if a U.S. presence in Iraq does turn out to be vital to U.S. national security and the basic human decency requiring us to do more than just stand by during a genocide… then maybe George W. Bush wasn’t such a crazed warmonger after all, huh, liberals?

Ali Khedery attempts a pep talk for the president:

As a U.S. official, and now as an executive doing business in the Middle East, I have heard the same sentiment echoed privately by regional leaders for years. The reality is that your intended policy of benign neglect has actually proven to be one of malignant neglect and only strengthened our foes. But you still have 30 months left in office and there are vital American interests that need to be safeguarded—and not just on a remote mountaintop filled with desperate, fleeing Yazidi civilians. It is time to put the pivot to Asia on the backburner and to refocus on the unfinished business at hand. It is time to reengage in the Middle East, lest its widening chaos destroy what is left of your presidential legacy.

Here’s the problem: the Democratic base is functionally isolationist. Large swaths of Democratic primary voters do not want money spent overseas or troops deployed anywhere near Iraq. All of the Democrats officeholders’ opportunistic demonization of the Iraq War from 2003 to 2008 has caught up with them; their base actually believed all of that stuff about neocons and oil companies and Hallburton and “Imperial Hubris.” For the better part of a decade, Democrats insisted U.S. troops could leave Iraq and things would turn out fine for American interests.

As Ace put it, “Obama is essentially now in the position of fighting a war while pretending to not be fighting a war, because of The Base. That should go well for all of us!”

Here’s Khedery’s comments to Jake Tapper:

They don’t take the threat of transnational jihad seriously enough, as demonstrated by President Obama’s assessment of ISIS a few months ago, calling them the JV team,” said Ali Khedery, referring to comments Obama made to The New Yorker magazine, comparing the militant group to a junior varsity basketball team.

“In reality, ISIS represents the most virulent form of Islamic jihad the planet has ever seen. These folks are not Muslims, they are animals, frankly. They are a group that is so vicious, and so blood-thirsty, and such a death cult, that even core al Qaeda leadership – bin Laden’s successors namely – have disavowed them,” Khedery said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

“And by doing nothing about it for months now, despite repeated warnings from the American intelligence community, what’s happened now is the cancer has metastasized, and we have a major problem on our hands, a problem that threatens regional stability, and thus threatens global stability,” he says.

“You don’t need access to CIA and NSA (intelligence) to know that they are coming, and that another 9/11 is imminent unless we act decisively, quickly, and do it right now with our allies,” said Khedery.

Well… damn.

Oh, and even the French appear to be cracking jokes about Obama’s vacations:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has a message about Iraq for Barack Obama: Get back to the White House and do something.

’I know it is the holiday period in our Western countries,’ Fabius told a radio interviewer Tuesday in France,’ but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.’

Full-time workers in France are guaranteed a whopping five weeks of paid vacation every year, making his plea all the more urgent.

Obama is on a family and golfing holiday in a ritzy neighborhood of Martha’s Vineyard but says he will come back to Washington briefly on Tuesday before returning to fun, sun, and more golf.

Tags: Barack Obama , ISIS , Iraq

Attempting Solutions for a Society That Sets the Stage for Depression


Also from today’s Morning Jolt:

Attempting Solutions for a Society That Sets the Stage for Depression

Read John Tabin.

For better or worse, last night’s article on NRO stirred up a hornet’s nest.

A few accomplished mis-readers seemed to think I was arguing that any of the aspects of modern society were responsible for Robin Williams’ suicide. No, I merely wondered aloud — er, in pixels — if some aspects of our modern society help set the stage for depression.

Keep in mind, as the National Institute of Mental Health puts it, “Most likely, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.” Everybody’s mind is different, and everybody’s biochemistry is different. For some folks, brain chemistry may not be a factor at all; for some folks, it may be their body doesn’t produce enough serotonin. (“Although it is widely believed that a serotonin deficiency plays a role in depression, there is no way to measure its levels in the living brain.”) If that’s the case, the circumstances of your life don’t matter very much to your mood; you could have a career and life as seemingly happy as . . . well, Robin Williams and still feel depressed. It’s easy to imagine that circumstance seeming even more maddening – everything seems fine, but the feeling of sadness won’t go away, so what’s wrong with me? Maybe I’m destined to be unhappy . . .

It’s good that everyone has touted the suicide-prevention hotline for the past 48 hours. But there was the uncomfortable fact that Robin Williams had been in rehab recently – and had in fact spent quite a bit of time in rehab over the course of his life. He sought professional help, and received it, many times over. Yet all of that couldn’t steer him away from this path. This isn’t to say people shouldn’t seek professional help, just a recognition that it isn’t a sure-fire path to healing.

To the extent depression is not biological, we know there are certain behaviors that are either contributors or symptoms: social withdrawal and isolation; self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, junk food, etc.

I picked out some elements that would be included in a dystopia deliberately designed to sow depression in its inhabitants:

  • a constant technological connection
  • online interactions replacing in-person ones
  • public instantaneous gut-level reactions to news and events, fueling a perception that the general population was stupid, hateful, racist, etc.
  • the perception of children as a burden
  • an obsession with youth and fear of aging
  • an obsession with appearances and attractiveness

I could have tossed in materialism, and the faith that some higher salary or material goods will make us happier people.

For what it’s worth, notice these trends and factors are not inherently political. I don’t think either party has a lock on obsessing over appearances and attractiveness, and I don’t think liberals or conservatives are inherently more likely to be spending too much time on the Internet.

I was recently told – in another context – that I’m great at identifying problems, and not such a great guy when it came to solving them.

I don’t want to get up on a soapbox and tell people, “here’s how you should live your life!” I get irritated enough when other people do that and tell me how to live my life. But if you find that list above resonating with you in a disturbing, all-too-familiar way . . . here’s my advice.

That constant technological connection? Turn off the computer every once in a while. Wait, NOT NOW! Finish reading the Jolt! Er, then go check Campaign Spot, read the rest of NRO, order The Weed Agency from Amazon, and then go turn off the computer. Go for a walk. You can bring your phone, but don’t check it. Determine you’re going to go have some fantastic off-line experience that you can later showcase on your on-line social networks.

Those online interactions replacing in-person ones? Think of somebody near you who you haven’t seen in a while, who you’ve been meaning to talk to, and schedule a lunch or coffee or happy hour or dinner or some other get-together. Face-to-face.

Those public instantaneous gut-level reactions to news and events, fueling a perception that the general population was stupid, hateful, racist, etc.? Make sure that your perception of “people” is driven more by the people you interact with in person than the teeming mobs on Twitter or other online forums. You’ll find some fools and malcontents in your off-line travels, too, but generally people are politer and nicer in person.

That perception of children as a burden? Spend time around a kid. Any age will do, but I’m finding four and six full of fascinatingly bizarre questions and conclusions about the world. Think about them as protégés, sidekicks, students, someone to carry a torch that you will pass on someday. We’re all capable of creating amazing and wonderful things, but the only amazing and wonderful thing that we can create that can go on to create additional, new and different amazing and wonderful things is a child. It makes all the dirty diapers and spilled milk and Lego pieces under your feet and OH FOR GOD’S SAKE WHO WAS MESSING WITH THE BLINDS IN DADDY’S HOME OFFICE?!? I TOLD YOU KIDS NOT TO–

I mean, they’re worth it.

That obsession with youth and fear of aging? Presuming you’re older than your high school years . . . would you really want to go back to that? Acne? Cliques? Awkwardness around the opposite sex? Algebra (or insert your least favorite class here)? Isn’t there some part of yourself you like more now than you did then? As you look at your life today, isn’t there some part of your life that you can take pride in, and acknowledge that your younger self never could have accomplished that?

That obsession with appearances and attractiveness? Look, you’re going to have your good days reflected in that photo you use as your profile picture, and you’re going to have your bad days. Everybody’s a mess when they get out of bed in the morning. Trust other people to like you for more than your appearance.

Poll: Mia Love Leads by 12 in Utah House Race


“Congresswoman Mia Love, R-Utah” is not a done deal, but the odds look good right now: “A new Zions Bank/ opinion poll conducted by Dan Jones/Cicero Group shows Love with 44 percent and [Democrat Doug] Owens with 32 percent support with less than three months to go until the election. 19 percent are undecided.”


Tags: Mia Love

Way More than a Handful of Lobbyists Work in the Obama Administration


Elsewhere on NRO, Michelle Malkin greets the “sleepyheads” in the D.C. press corps who are only now noticing “the White House is infested with Beltway lobbyists.”

In today’s Morning Jolt, I noted that the New York Times reported on this topic and referred to only “a number” of lobbyists, conveniently omitting any sense of scale of the phenomenon for its readership. 

Obama Administration: Actually, We Were Cool With Lobbyists All Along

All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.

Particularly the ones related to ideas that seem good and not particularly partisan:

The Obama administration on Tuesday rolled back part of its ban on lobbyists serving in government, narrowing one of the president’s signature policies in the face of a legal challenge.

Under a new rule, registered lobbyists whom Mr. Obama had previously barred from serving on government advisory boards may now participate if they are representing companies or groups and not acting on their own behalf.

The change was published in the Federal Register and took effect immediately, the administration said. It comes after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the Obama administration’s efforts to dismiss a lawsuit by six lobbyists who challenged the ban’s constitutionality after being excluded from a trade advisory committee. The lobbyists said their First Amendment rights to petition the government had been violated.

The change is the latest example of the limits of the president’s effort to rein in the influence of special interests in government. Mr. Obama barred lobbyists from contributing to his campaign and signed an order on his first day in office in 2009 prohibiting them from serving in his administration.

But Mr. Obama has made a number of exceptions to that rule and has hired lobbyists for several important jobs.

Bad form, New York Times. You should offer a specific figure, or at least a ballpark range, for the “number of exceptions.”

Last year the Obama administration hit 119. The conclusion then:

Obama’s rules have largely served to fuel unregistered lobbying. He writes “as lobbying is increasingly conducted by unregistered lobbyists, the disclosure system becomes increasingly less transparent.”

Obama’s “war on lobbyists” was an attempt to capture populist passion. It worked. Now, McGrath aptly concludes, Obama “must bear some responsibility for continuing levels of public cynicism and mistrust of politics, for having made promises he knew he couldn’t keep.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Lobbyists

An Awkward Complication for the Democrats’ Favorite Narrative



How has this not been widely discussed before?

Tags: Democrats , African-Americans

If Your Morning Jolt Doesn’t Arrive Regularly...


Hillary Calls Obama to Say She Didn’t Mean to Criticize Him


Looks like Hillary’s attempt to distance herself from Obama’s foreign policy did not go over well in the White House:

I understand this was the hold music:

You know how we know that Team Obama was irked about Hillary’s comments?

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Barack Obama

Flush! Democrats Count Up How Much They Spent to Help John Walsh


Also from today’s Jolt

Looks like Democrats wasted a bunch of money on the aborted campaign of appointed Sen. John Walsh (D., Mont): “Senate Democrats huddled to support Walsh, making leadership PACs the fresh appointee’s second largest contributing industry. 42 Senators — four out of five of Democrats in the upper chamber — gave to Walsh through their leadership PACs, for a total of $246,000 . . . Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent close to $18,000 in outside expenditures in the race, one of its nine targets this cycle. The largest outside spender in the election was the progressive veterans’ group, which spent close to $300,000 backing Walsh.”

Tags: John Walsh

Can’t the Right Argue in Multiple Kinds of Styles?


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt

Must We Fume at Each Other? Can’t the Right Argue in Multiple Kinds of Styles?

Here’s Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe,  crossing the U.S.-Mexican border in an Osama bin Laden mask recently:

Here’s then-GOP congressional candidate Raj Peter Bhakta, crossing the U.S-Mexican border on top of an elephant, with a Mariachi band, in 2006:

Katearthsis – ignore the Selina Kyle name in her Twitter handle, boys, I’m fairly certain she’s not Catwoman – is one of us. She’s a young  woman of deep religious faith and one of the few art students interested in conservatism. I have a tough time believing that she’s the problem facing today’s Right.

She didn’t think much of O’Keefe’s latest video. You can scroll through her feed for her full arguments, but the gist is she thinks putting on a bin Laden mask and sloshing through a narrow portion of the Rio Grande, far from any border patrols, is a fairly silly way to illustrate a point that very few people would dispute: at this point it is not terribly difficult to sneak into the United States from Mexico.

So, thousands of immigrant children cross the border, but for some people it takes @JamesOKeefeIII to show the border isn’t secure. No.

— Selina Kyle (@katearthsis) August 11, 2014

Actually, I suspect those people already knew the border wasn’t secure; they feel that O’Keefe in a bin Laden mask vividly illustrates the potential danger of an insecure border.

Twitchy ripped into Kate for criticizing O’Keefe; some good folks on Twitter ripped into Twitchy for what they perceived as group-think.

Maybe O’Keefe’s video is your cup of tea, maybe it isn’t. It probably does tap into that “get a load of this!” share-able element necessary to take an idea viral, but on the other hand, the obstacle is not really getting Americans to believe the border is not secure. The obstacle isn’t really getting Americans to believe the border ought to be secure, either. The obstacle is getting incumbent politicians, and this administration in particular, to believe that securing the border ought to be a priority – and that any “path to citizenship” scheme can’t be seriously considered until the border and its steady supply of new illegal immigrants is shut off.

The “you’re hurting your cause by being a clod” argument sprung up recently in another context.

Ann Coulter recently had her annual slow-news-cycle-dominating national controversy – she’s guaranteed one per year in her contract, right? – contending that missionary work and running medical clinics in poor countries represented a foolish choice for a Christian:

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.

If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.

Erick Erickson, the Anchoress, Pete Wehner, and Peter Rosenberger, among others, strongly objected to Coulter’s argument.

One point I would note is that while O’Keefe and Coulter are different ages, they’ve both achieved a certain prominence and status with their respective styles. Whether or not you or I like it, they’ve decided it works for them. And the proof is in the book contracts, YouTube hits, television appearances, syndicated columns, speaking gigs and so on. No matter how much someone tells them to change their style or the way they approach advocating for their ideas, these two – and most of us! — are never going to change, or at least are extremely unlikely to change.

So I’m not sure it does anyone much good to yell at anybody who’s having an impact on the Right and demand they change.

It’s been said that “conservatism is a mansion with many rooms.” (Somewhere someone is scoffing, ‘great, even our metaphors make us look like the rich guys.’) If we don’t all agree on every issue –military interventions, trade policy, gay marriage, abortion, eliminating the home mortgage deduction, boosting the child tax credit – why do we have to agree on styles and tones of public argument?

The creaking-from-book-weight bookshelves are set up in the new house, and on the top shelf, you can see my selections from the more serious side of political thought – the boss, Robert Novak, Christopher Hitchens, William F. Buckley, George H.W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani…

… and then a shelf below you can see another side of the political world: Michael Kelly, Mark Steyn, Christopher Buckley, P.J. O’Rourke, Greg Gutfeld, Adam Carolla, Dennis Miller – and yes, Anthony Bourdain.

There’s room in the movement for just about everybody – even the voices that drive us batty sometimes. With metronomic regularity, people cite Buckley driving the John Birch Society out of the conservative movement like St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, and call for a modern-day equivalent effort to drive out the faction of the conservative movement that irks them most. But that kind of excommunication requires a couple factors that rarely align in today’s conservatism: 1) a figure nearly-universally respected or revered the way Buckley was; 2) a faction within the movement that has few allies or other conservatives inclined to keep them inside or defend them; 3) a broad movement that is receptive to the idea that the particular faction is so noxious, wrong-headed, or detrimental to the larger cause that it has to go.

Perhaps we could add a fourth factor: a sense that the movement is sufficiently successful that it can afford to kick out potential allies.

Tags: James O'Keefe , Border Security , Ann Coulter , Conservatism

‘You’re Not On the List.’


Maybe it’s just a routine scheduling snafu, or confusion about whether a campaign is having a “private event.” Perhaps the gentleman in the tie-dyed overalls is in the wrong, or perhaps the Merkley staffers are being a little too brusque in keeping people out of the event. 

But it probably doesn’t help Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, if seniors are getting turned away from his events, and leaving pretty irked that they’ve been asked to leave:

Tags: Jeff Merkley

The President’s Busy Day Continues


The poor man just can’t enjoy his vacation uninterrupted: “Obama, who arrived at Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday, headlines a late afternoon event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at a private residence in Tisbury, Mass.”

He will also make some remarks to the public about Iraq this afternoon.

The commander-in-chief taking a moment to review his options at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, as U.S. combat operations began over Iraq. 


UPDATE: Hm? ”Audio only?”

Tags: Barack Obama , DSCC


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