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The Campaign Spot

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

There Has Been an Awakening . . . to Obamacare’s Forceful Dark Side



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From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

There Has Been an Awakening . . . to Obamacare’s Forceful Dark Side

As the Star Wars trailer declared and asked . . . “There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?”

 

The Dark Side of Obamacare’s . . . er, force is real. And some Democrats are awakening to it, and what they have done to themselves, and the nation:

The views of Democratic advocates of Obamacare notwithstanding, public opinion has generally sided with Schumer.

A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional connection poll of 1,013 adults in mid-November 2013 found that by a 25-point margin, 59-34, respondents said that the health care law (which includes a major expansion of Medicaid to cover anyone up to 133 percent of the poverty line, and subsidies for the purchase of private insurance for those between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line) would make things better for the poor. But respondents also said, by a 16-point margin, 49-33, that the law would make things worse for “people like you and your family.” White respondents were even more critical, with 58 percent saying that Obamacare would make things worse for people like you and your family, and 63 percent saying it would make things worse “for the middle class.” . . . 

During a September pre-election panel discussion on the continuing political repercussions of the Affordable Care Act, Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Report, put his finger on the health care problem facing Democrats when he pointed out that the public perception of the party has been indelibly imprinted by Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act has “framed where the Democratic Party is,” Cook said. “If I would sum up my assessment, it was huge, it did play a central role in framing everything.” By 2014, health care reform “lost a little bit of its oomph, but it still is more important in setting things up than any other issue was over the last six years.” . . . 

As if Democrats do not already have enough trouble, data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that many, if not most, of the seven million people who purchased insurance through the A.C.A. will either have to pay higher premiums or higher deductibles, or submit themselves to the complex process of switching plans.

Oh, Democrats . . . you don’t know the power of the dark side . . . of this law. But you will.

Tags: Obamacare

Eventually, Jeb Bush Will Need to Claim He’s the Conservative Candidate



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Yesterday I mentioned that immigration reform and Common Core could represent huge issues of contention between Jeb Bush and conservative Republican primary voters — and yet that when he was governor, one of Bush’s crusades was a key priority of conservatives, school choice:

Over at Politico, S. V. Date asks how the heck Jeb Bush became to be perceived as the moderate in the GOP field:

For those of us who covered Jeb’s two terms in Tallahassee, this is beyond mind-boggling. On issue after issue, Jeb’s track record in Florida pushed conservatism’s envelope to the breaking point. For anti-tax conservatives, Jeb slashed the state’s collections by a cumulative $14 billion over his eight years. For the devoted sub-set of supply-siders: The bulk of these cuts came via the complete repeal of Florida’s decades-old wealth tax on financial instruments. It pretty much had been the only progressive tax the state had, since Florida’s constitution forbids an income tax.

For anti-spending conservatives, Jeb line-item vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars in hometown projects from the state budget year after year.

For small-government conservatives, Jeb eliminated thousands of jobs by outsourcing huge swaths of state duties, including the massive human resources function and the state purchasing office.

For law-and-order conservatives, Jeb championed tough-on-crime bills like “10-20-life” for gun offenders and three-strikes legislation for repeat offenders. He jammed through the legislature a death-penalty overhaul drastically limiting appeals for condemned inmates (it was soon afterward struck down, however, by the Florida Supreme Court).

For pro-gun conservatives, Jeb approved an enhanced concealed carry law and, infamously, the NRA-written “Stand Your Ground” law. (After Trayvon Martin, Jeb said he did not believe it should have been applied in that instance.)

For religious conservatives, Jeb rammed through education bills that created the first statewide school voucher programs in the nation, and then spent years defending them against oversight attempts. He approved the “Choose Life” license plate, and sent state money to groups that counseled women against having abortions. And, famously, he pushed through legislation allowing him as governor to intervene in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case—and at the very end nearly triggered a showdown with a local judge by sending state police officers to seize her from a Tampa Bay area hospice.

With all this on his resume, Jeb Bush is now considered a moderate? A RINO? What more can conservatives want?

Despite Bush’s declaration yesterday that “I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else — and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more wiling to be, ‘lose the primary to win the general’ without violating your principles,” it is very hard to believe Bush would or could run for president by explicitly renouncing the conservative base of the party. At some point, Bush will, either by choice or necessity, attempt to claim the mantle of the conservative candidate. The big question is whether grassroots conservatives, feeling their country is under assault by a destructive, aggressive progressivism, will be reassured by policy achievements from 1999 to 2007.

Tags: Jeb Bush

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What If the Media’s ‘Narrative Journalism’ Harms Their Own Causes?



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From the midweek Morning Jolt:

What If the Media’s ‘Narrative Journalism’ Harms Their Own Causes?

Allow me to play devil’s advocate…

What if the mainstream media’s increasing devotion to “narrative journalism” – preconceived storylines that fit a particular agenda or political or ideological view, almost always progressive –  as opposed to say, “factual journalism” — is actually harmful to the causes they seek to advance?

We’ve seen the media’s “narrative journalism” insisting that Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown represented a vivid, awful example of racist police forces recklessly using deadly force against defenseless black men. The grand jury remained unconvinced. They saw too many pieces of evidence and witness testimonies that contracted that simple morality play.

The media’s “narrative journalism” contended that George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin represented a brutal crime, revealing a reckless, gun-toting vigilantism loose on the streets of America, preying upon innocent young black men. The jury looked at the available evidence and acquitted Zimmerman. All that one-sided “narrative journalism” left a portion of their audience completely unprepared for the jury’s decision, because it seemed so contrary to everything they had been told.

You may recall similar examples of juries rejecting a convenient narrative embraced by the media’s most powerful voices, such as the case against the Duke Lacrosse players. Jurors aren’t like most news viewers. For the purposes of the decision before them, they’re not “low-information voters.” They don’t have the option of tuning out the story when it gets boring. They have to pay attention – or at least appear to pay attention – to all of the facts, and hear both the prosecution’s side and the defense’s side.

Right now, hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions, are furious and are publicly demanding a result that is extremely unlikely to happen: federal charges and a conviction of Darren Wilson.

You may have missed this story back in October:

The Justice Department is not expected to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, according to three law enforcement officials, despite allegations that the killing was racially motivated.

The federal investigation of Zimmerman was opened two years ago by the department’s civil rights division, but officials said there is insufficient evidence to bring federal charges. The investigation technically remains open, but it is all but certain the department will close it.

Not even Eric Holder’s politicized Department of Justice wanted to step up and try Zimmerman on federal charges; the burden of proof is just too high and the odds of a successful conviction are just too low.

As in the Trayvon Martin case, all of the agitation and drum-beating and fury-feeding has created an expectation that the Obama administration is unlikely to meet.

You see the phenomenon outside of criminal cases, as well.

The media’s “narrative journalism” did pro forma coverage of Jonathan Gruber’s comments about Obamacare and an ill-informed electorate… but that left a juicy story for the alternative media. And it’s not like ignoring Gruber’s comments has made Obamacare any more popular. All the puff pieces in the world dissipate as soon as somebody gets that policy cancelation letter in the mail. All the “narrative journalism” cheerleading for Obamacare, clashing with the harsh real-life experiences, has discredited the traditional progressive view on the health care system:

For the third consecutive year, a majority of Americans (52%) agree with the position that it is not the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to the start of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2009, a majority of Americans consistently took the opposite view.

Yes, the media’s “narrative journalism” can certainly set the terms of discussion, bring issues to prominence, downplay inconvenient stories, and so on. And yet that approach generates the opposite results they want pretty regularly, doesn’t it?

Tags: Obamacare , Ferguson , George Zimmerman , Eric Holder

Democratic Senate Approves Obama’s Embarrass-adors



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Today the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of two of Obama’s most embarrassing ambassadorial nominations: Noah Mamet, the nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina and Colleen Bell, the nominee to be ambassador to Hungary.

Mamet, the one who admitted during his confirmation hearing that he had never been to Argentina, was confirmed 50-43; Bell, the soap-opera producer allegedly ready to represent us to a NATO member during a time of extremely tense dealings with the Russians, was confirmed 52-42.

It will not surprise you that all “yes” votes were Democrats (and “independent” Bernie Sanders of Vermont). Independent Angus King of Maine voted “no” on Bell* and “no” on Mamet. All other “no” votes were Republicans. 

Starting next month, Republicans enjoy a majority in the Senate, and these votes will go the other way. So if the Obama administration has any more embarrassing nominations, they have to ram them through now.

It’s not just the ambassadors, of course; career foreign-service officers no longer hold any of the top positions at the U.S. State Department:

The Obama administration is giving an unprecedented number of political appointees top diplomatic positions, a move that has long frustrated career Foreign Service officials but has become a renewed point of contention this week with the departure of Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, the only career foreign service officer in the top echelons of Foggy Bottom leadership . . .

Career officials say their wider concern is political appointees’ total takeover of all the top State Department positions, not only at the deputy level but also at the next-highest level, the undersecretary for political affairs slot, or the “P” position.

It’s an administration increasingly made up of donors, apparatchiks, and hacks. And you can see it in the results.

* This article originally listed King as a “yes” for Bell.

 

Did a Rubio Staffer Hint at a Presidential Campaign?



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A few folks are interpreting this Tweet, by Sen. Marco Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant, as a backdoor suggestion that Rubio will run for president.

Conant’s wife, Caitlin Dunn, is Portman’s communications director.

Republican senators, doing their part for marital peace.

Tags: Marco Rubio , Rob Portman , 2016

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Hillary’s Office Web Site Hasn’t Changed Since February 2013



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It’s going to be fascinating to watch Hillary Clinton attempt to run for president without saying anything controversial:

Hillary Clinton did not comment on the Keystone XL pipeline Monday while speaking before a conservation group that is strongly opposed to the plan. During a 15-minute speech, Clinton spoke about the importance of green technology, the problems surrounding natural gas drilling and the fact that climate change exists and needs to be addressed more forcefully. But at no point did Clinton address the 1,179-mile-long project that would move oil from Canada to refineries in the United States at the League of Conservation Voters’ New York dinner.

Her official office web site continues to consist entirely of a picture of her and a contact e-mail:

Her office site — which HillaryClinton.com redirects to — has not changed since February 5, 2013.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Keystone Pipeline

The Ferguson Protesters Aren’t Interested in Persuading Other People.



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Ferguson Protesters Aren’t Interested in Persuading Other People.

Hey you. Fawker. 

I’m going to grant you a courtesy you don’t always extend to others and take you seriously for a bit.

I assume you want me to agree with you. You want to persuade me that you’re not just some hooligan, idolizing a terrorist because of a hackneyed, heavy-handed Wachowski Brothers film. You want to convince me that you’re not just looking for an excuse to loot and steal stuff and then use the death of a young man as an ex post facto justification for your own criminal inclination to take the property of other people by force. You want to persuade me to agree with your perspective that there is a national epidemic of cops using excessive force and deadly force without cause against young black men.

If you want someone to listen to your argument… you do not win people over by making them late for work:

Protesters blocked D.C. traffic during a busy post-holiday rush hour to protest a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury’s decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson with shooting and killing unarmed teen Michael Brown.

The group of about 20 people formed a human chain across the 14th Street Bridge at D Street NW Monday, shutting the bridge down at the heart of rush hour. Police stood by, giving the protesters time to peacefully share their message.

After staging a die-in, the group moved on, shutting down traffic at the 12th Street Tunnel. The rolling closures continued through Downtown to 7th Street NW and Constitution Avenue.

The rally broke up around Chinatown, News4’s Molette Green reported. No arrests were made.

Hey, D.C. Police: Why weren’t any arrests made? Isn’t this a serious public safety issue? How long until some irate commuter has a Tony Stewart moment with some particularly obstinate protester?

One muddle-headed protester told NBC4, “That’s the point, we want people to know what’s going on.”

People already know what’s going on. They just don’t agree with you in the numbers you would like. And a big reason is the way you’ve chosen to showcase your argument.

 

If you want me to agree with you, a good first step is to show you respect me. Blocking traffic and making me late doesn’t make me think that you respect me. It suggests you feel either utter disregard for what I consider important – i.e., getting to work on time – or you feel contempt for me – after all, I’m some bourgeoisie drone worrying about a time-clock and paying the mortgage, who’s insufficiently down with the struggle.

The Ferguson protesters claim they want empathy. They want us to put ourselves in the shoes of young black males and to know what it feels like to be treated like a criminal suspect in public places, by shopkeepers and police officers, and to know that the consequences of a misunderstanding, hostile look, or dumb teenage mistake are much higher than for other people. They may very well have a point.

But they refuse to demonstrate empathy for anyone else – not the cops who have the tough job of working in dangerous neighborhoods, not the shopkeepers of Ferguson, nor even the people of Washington D.C. who have the misfortune of trying to drive into work on I-395 on a Monday morning.

Tags: Ferguson , Liberals

Not Every Good Republican - Like Rob Portman - Needs to Run for President



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There’s a lot to like about Sen. Rob Portman, but how many people ever looked at the smart, experienced, soft-spoken Ohio Republican and said, “yes, that’s exactly the guy the GOP needs to nominate for president?”

Okay, the senator and a few folks in media sure fell in love with that idea…

Jen Rubin, August 28: “Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is reportedly considering a run for the presidency. He has not been on the radar screen for 2016, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a viable candidate. To the contrary, he might be the most qualified nominee since George H.W. Bush.”

The Columbus Dispatch: “Sen. Rob Portman is being urged to form a presidential exploratory committee as the first step in running for the White House in 2016, but the Ohio Republican will not make a decision until after the November elections.”

Stephanie Slade, U.S. News and World Report: “Should Portman enter the race, however, he strikes me as genuinely formidable candidate.”

Politico: “Rob Portman is continuing to weigh a presidential run even as he leans toward running for reelection, he said in an interview on Friday afternoon. The Ohio Republican senator doesn’t have a precise timeline for his decision, but with his party’s triumph on Tuesday behind him he said he’s finally got some time to think about whether to seek the presidency or commit 100 percent to running for reelection in the swing state of Ohio in 2016.”

But the equation was always the same: A wonky, amiable guy from a swing state taking on some very big names with bigger fundraising bases, bigger profiles on the national scene, more vibrant personalities and much clearer bases of support: Either Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, probably Rand Paul, possibly Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry… 

This morning:

Sen. Rob Portman will not run for president in 2016, saying that he will seek another term as a U.S. senator from Ohio instead.

Announcing his decision to a small group of Ohio reporters in his Capitol Hill office yesterday, Portman said he decided to remain in the Senate because he feels energized by the new GOP Senate majority, saying, “There is a good chance for us to do something” on a broad array of issues, such as overhauling the tax code and expanding international trade.

No shame in that. And it’s a good reminder to the political media that not everybody who gets mentioned as a potential presidential candidate will choose that path.

Tags: Rob Portman , GOP , 2016

Obama’s Veto Threat Blows Up Bipartisan Tax Extender Deal



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Who’s the obstructionist now? Leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill were close to an agreement on extending tax breaks scheduled to expire... and the Obama blew it up with a veto threat.

President Barack Obama’s threatened veto of a $400 billion-plus tax-break bill exposed a widening fault line within the Democratic Party.

Negotiators from both parties, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were preparing to exclude a pair of Obama’s top priorities from a year-end agreement. The plan would lock in permanent extensions of tax breaks for corporations, college students and residents of states without income taxes while not making permanent breaks for low-income families. Obama objected and responded in an unusual way Tuesday.

The White House issued a veto threat before lawmakers released the plan publicly, siding with progressive groups and advocates for a lower budget deficit over his own party’s Senate leaders.

If the deal is good enough for Harry Reid and most Senate Democrats, why isn’t it good enough for President Obama? Why can’t the tax breaks with bipartisan agreement be extended, and the ones without be taken up separately? Why do all of the tax breaks have to be “taken hostage,” to use the term cited in every budget fight?

No deal means higher taxes for lots of people:

Analysis by The Tax Institute, the independent research arm at H&R Block, shows tax benefits for individuals and small businesses that expired in 2013 could impact as many as one in six taxpayers.

The Tax Institute estimates five of the more popular expired breaks benefiting individuals delivered more than $87 billion in tax benefits in 2013.

These benefits, that include the state and local sales tax deduction, mortgage insurance premium deduction, educator expenses deduction, tuition and fees deduction and the mortgage debt relief tax benefit, are often referred to as the “extenders” because they are part of proposed legislation that would extend up to 55 tax breaks that expired last year. The Tax Institute identified another two benefits as particularly significant to individuals and families — the nonbusiness energy property credit and the charitable IRA distribution provision.

“Unless Congress renews the expired tax breaks, taxpayers of all types and across all incomes will lose tax benefits they’ve used in the past,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. “Taxpayers should prepare themselves and their tax returns for the changes that are ahead and look at other tax benefits for relief.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Taxes

Senate Votes Today on Two of Obama’s Embarrassing Ambassadorial Nominees



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Today the U.S. Senate votes on two of President Obama’s ambassadorial nominees: Noah Mamet, the nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina and Colleen Bell, the nominee to be ambassador to Hungary.

You may recall Noah Mamet admitting in response to a question to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., he has never traveled to Argentina:

Bell is perhaps best known as producer of soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” She, too, had difficulties during her confirmation hearing.


More ABC US news | ABC World News

SEN. MCCAIN: So what would you be doing differently from your predecessor, who obviously had very rocky relations with the present government?

MS. BELL: If confirmed, I look forward to working with the broad range of society –

SEN. MCCAIN: My question was, what would you do differently?

MS. BELL: Senator, in terms of what I would do differently from my predecessor, Kounalakis –

SEN. MCCAIN: That’s the question.

MS. BELL: Well, what I would like to do when — if confirmed, I would like to work towards engaging civil society in a deeper — in a deeper –

SEN. MCCAIN: Obviously, you don’t want to answer my question.

Both nominees raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for President Obama’s presidential campaigns.

President Obama “entered office promising to limit the practice” of naming campaign donors to plum ambassadorial posts “and instead appoint more Foreign Service professionals to ambassadorial positions.” Currently more than 41 percent of Obama’s ambassadorial nominees are considered “political” selections and are not career foreign service officials.

Tags: Barack Obama , State Department

Louisiana’s Early Vote Looks Particularly Ominous for Mary Landrieu



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Louisiana’s Early Vote Looks Particularly Ominous for Mary Landrieu

This coming Saturday, Louisianans close the book on the 2014 Senate races with their run-off election between incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.

This morning Freedom Partners Action Fund launches a new ad, a portion of the original $2.1 million in ad time the group reserved early. The ad features two Louisiana residents, John Humphreys and Diana Lennon:

John Humphreys: You know, there’s lots of reasons Senator Mary Landrieu hasn’t earned six more years.

Diana Lennon: She’s been in Washington so long she calls it home.

Humphreys: Washington’s war on oil and gas, Obamacare and wasteful spending…

Lennon: She’s part of the problem.

Humphreys: This may be the most important vote that you ever make for Louisiana and the country.

Lennon: A vote for Mary Landrieu is a vote for President Obama and has failed liberal policies.

Humphreys: Let’s put Louisiana first.

Lennon: Vote Bill Cassidy.

Announcer: Freedom Partners Action Fund is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Elsewhere, Conservative War Chest’s commercial, hitting President Obama for treating the results of the midterm elections as if they don’t count, posted Friday, has more than 130,000 views on YouTube.

The early vote is looking pretty brutal for Landrieu:

The number of people who cast their ballots early in Louisiana dropped off from the Nov. 4 primary election to the Dec. 6 runoff election in every statewide category except one: registered Republican voters. 

About 85,900 registered Republicans took advantage of early voting for the Dec. 6 runoff, which was held during the week leading up Thanksgiving, as well as Saturday. That’s almost 3,000 more than the number of people who voted early for the Nov. 4 election, and it amounts to a 4 percent bump in early voting overall from a month ago. 

The jump in early Republican voters is noteworthy, given that early voting overall dropped by 10 percent from the November primary to the December runoff. The number of registered Democrats who voted early fell even further — about an 18 percent decrease — from the primary to the runoff, according to information provided by the Secretary of State’s office.  

Still, the biggest decline in early voters statewide happened among African Americans, who have typically backed Landrieu. The number of black voters casting early ballots fell by 24 percent from the Nov. 4 election period to the Dec. 6 election period.

Democrats have said there was a surge in black voters participating in early voting on the final day it was available, Saturday (Nov. 29). The Landrieu campaign is confident that African Americans will head to the polls this coming Saturday, the official election day and last time voting is available, according to officials.  

Keep in mind, historically, turnout for Louisiana’s runoff elections hasn’t been much smaller than their November elections.

Opinion polling looks similarly brutal for Landrieu, showing her trailing by double-digits. There’s no reason for Louisiana Republicans to take their foot off the gas, but chances are a week from now, the GOP is warmly welcoming the 54th member of their caucus.

Tags: Mary Landrieu , Bill Cassidy , Louisiana

The Morning Jolt Holiday Shopping Guide



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Morning Jolt Holiday Shopping Guide

Welcome to the Black Friday edition of the Morning Jolt. I just wish we could go back to those simpler, less commercial, more spiritual Christmas seasons from when I was a kid, when parents stepped on each other and threw punches to get a Cabbage Patch doll.

Now for the gift ideas and listings for those of you who want to get your Christmas or Hanukkah shopping done quickly . . .

Start with the obvious: Shouldn’t there be a copy of The Weed Agency under the Christmas tree or Menorah this year? $13 bucks at the store, a mere $10.59 with Amazon Prime and $7.99 in Kindle form. If you’re interested in a signed copy, e-mail me; the easiest way is probably for you to send a copy to me (with preferred inscription) with a self-addressed, stamped envelope with shipping postage. I’ll sign and inscribe it, and then mail back to you.

In the unlikely chance that you find yourself clamoring for my earlier, nonfiction work, Voting to Kill is available on Kindle, and you can find used copies for the low, low price of . . . a penny. (I won’t tell your gift recipients if you won’t.) The topic is perhaps newly relevant in light of the Islamic State, its beheadings, the collapse of the Iraqi army, the Iranian nuclear talks . . .

If you have seen me doing appearances on NRANews.com via Skype, you may have seen the faux-movie poster for “Bedtime for Brezhnev” behind me, featuring Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis, George H.W. Bush, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Fidel Castro, Leonid Brezhnev, and Moammar Qaddafi.

Over at the National Review store, we’ve got the National Review Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories (a two-book set), autographed copies of Rich Lowry’s Lincoln Unbound, and Richard Brookheiser’s Right Time, Right Place. A National Review sweatshirt is only $29.99. Mugs are $12.99, two for $19.99.

I fear listing some of my colleagues’ books, because I’ll inevitably forget some, but I should mention them as good gift ideas: Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure is now just $17.98 with Amazon Prime; Jonah’s The Tyranny of Clichés is just $9.09, Victor Davis Hanson’s The Savior Generals is just $11.74, Michael Walsh’s The People v. The Democratic Party is just $5.99, and Ramesh’s 2006 work, The Party of Death is $23.06. The Seven Deadly Virtues, which features Jonah, Rob Long, James Lileks, and other familiar faces, is $16.45.

Unfortunately for fans of our Charlie Cooke, his book The Conservatarian Manifesto doesn’t come out until March. But you can pre-order it now!

Books from non-NR friends: Lisa de Pasquale’s Finding Mr. Righteous ($19.71 with Amazon Prime), Kurt Schlichter’s Conservative Insurgency ($15.60 with Amazon Prime) John Bicknell’s America 1844 ($20.50 with Amazon Prime).

A lot of Roman Genn’s best artwork is available for purchase, both prints and originals. I’ll bet there’s somebody who wants Roman’s original watercolor, The Second Amendment, for $575:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee had a good 2014, and they’ve got some neat stuff in their store. They’ve got “Reagan-Bush 84” t-shirts, “Romney Was Right” bumper stickers, and a “Make D.C. Squeal” sticker for Joni Ernst fans…

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A very Lando Calrissian-esque “This deal is getting worse all the time” t-shirt:

 

 

If you enjoy my way-too-enthusiastic writings on Twin Peaks, Brad Dukes’ Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks is a spectacularly detailed look at the series from its conception to cancelation. If you enjoyed my trip down memory lane discussing Max Headroom, the complete series is available for $31.69 with Amazon Prime.

Have safe travels this weekend.

Tags: Something Lighter

It’s Thanksgiving. Be Thankful. And Happy.



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Finally…

It’s Thanksgiving. Be Thankful. And Happy.

Moe Lane offers short, succinct advice on “How to talk politics with liberal family members at Thanksgiving this year.

You’ll recall that last year Organizing for Action urged its members to talk up Obamacare at the dinner table. My assessment still stands:

Here’s a crazy idea: Treat your family members as people you love and appreciate — or at least tolerate — instead of targets for political conversion. You only get one or two families in this life — the one you’re born into, and the one you marry into. Maybe if you’re lucky, you become “like a son” or “like a sister” to another. There’s a lot to talk about in this world beyond politics, and chances are you’re not going to persuade disagreeing relatives, anyway.

From one of my favorite, and most personal essays, from 2008:

By midday, the first round of relatives will start showing up at your door. From California to Maine, families will begin the complicated logistics of who parks where, and who will box in whom in the driveway. Does this need to be put in the oven? Is there room for this in the fridge? Have you basted recently? Has anyone seen the gravy boat?

Down the hall from the kitchen, Americans across the country will check in to Detroit to see if its NFL team has gotten any better. The early afternoon game of the Lions against the Team That Isn’t the Lions has had little meaning or playoff implications — at least since Barry Sanders retired. But that means football fans are able to watch objectively, just to appreciate the game as it is played — and there’s a good chance that a player you’ve never heard of will have an unexpectedly good day, claiming a Turkey-related award from a network color commentator. A few hours later — having established that, no, Detroit has not gotten any better — football fans will bid farewell to the Motor City for another year.

Later in the day, Dallas plays Not Dallas in a game that often matters — but by that time, America’s Team is competing with America’s Feast. Those who care about the game’s outcome will drop utensils conspicuously in order to dart into the den and check the score before returning to the table with their third or fourth clean fork.

By early evening at my house, my father-in-law will offer to continue our bizarre tradition of a shot of Thanksgiving tequila. There will be toasts, laughter, prayers.

You can probably guess the topics of conversation and points of contention around your table already, as every family has its hardy perennials. If you’re reading this site, you might be discussing the election. In my case, I’ll rejoin my efforts to trigger a reenactment of the Titanic brawl of a few years’ back over whether Philadelphia is a dead city.

Nobody’s arguing politics at this table. Don’t they look happy?

Tags: Something Lighter

What Is America’s Worst Airport?



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Safe travels, everyone. Today’s Jolt also discussed the airports you don’t want to get stuck in this weekend:

May Your Thanksgiving Travel Not Pass Through America’s Worst Airport

In preparation for the busiest travel day of the year, Gizmodo polled its readers on their choice for the country’s worst airport, and their top eight include:

8) Kansas City International Airport
7) Dulles International Airport
6) Philadelphia International Airport
5) Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
4) Newark Liberty International Airport
3) O’Hare International Airport
2) Los Angeles International Airport
1) LaGuardia Airport

The first observation: Are bookstores dying in airports? Do people on planes not read anymore? If so, this strikes me as a strikingly depressing development for our society. It’s one of the few places where you can get relative peace and quiet, you’re out of cell-phone range, and you probably don’t have Internet access (and if you do, it’s pretty slow). Heck, reading is one of the few things you can do comfortably in an airline seat. Yes, perhaps everything has shifted to e-readers and Nooks, but there’s something so inviting about seeing an actual bookstore, as opposed to a newsstand, near your gate with time to kill.

The second observation: I realize dining in an airport is rarely going to be good. The frequent traveler’s best hope is that it be not bad. A variety of options is nice. I seem to recall perfectly acceptable burger-and-a-beer dining experiences in Raleigh, Charlotte, Miami, and Savannah.

In my experience, Dulles is very hit-and-miss. For some trips the TSA line moves pretty smoothly (particularly on mornings and weekdays), other times it’s an interminably slow-moving ordeal. Some corners of Dulles have a decent selection of eateries and at least one small bookstore, but other far-off gates leave you with a Dunkin’ Donuts and that’s it. My new home in Authenticity Woods is roughly equidistant from Dulles and Reagan National Airport, and Reagan always seems to offer a much smoother departure.

Fort Lauderdale is strikingly bad for departures, considering how busy it is (at least when a cruise ship arrives). Somebody needed to turn up the air conditioning, every gate seemed crowded, the dining options were pretty limited, and each gate area just seemed too small for the amount of passengers waiting for their flight.

Leaving from Orlando is a mess every time — lots of families with a ton of carry-on luggage taking forever to get through the TSA scanners. There are a lot of shopping and dining options before the security lines, but I figure most travelers — particularly if they’ve experienced Orlando’s tedious lines — just want to get through security and then grab a bite or browse the stores. Of course, on the other side, the pickings are a lot slimmer.

Houston seemed to work fine on my recent business trips, although I recall one family trip there a couple years ago when we decided, “we’ll eat after we get our luggage.” Surprise! No food options after the luggage carousels. That led to a long drive through Houston’s labyrinthine highway system, at night, with two very cranky boys.

Denver seems to have a pretty decent selection of eateries and stores. Dallas seems laid out oddly, in that giant ring form, but it has worked okay, and it still has a decent bookstore. Both Portland and Seattle had smaller airports than I expected, but I got in and out pretty easily both times.

If you see this man waiting at your gate, your flight is probably going to be delayed.

Tags: Something Lighter

The Democrats’ Convention City Is...



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The fact that Democrats are no longer considering red-state cities like Phoenix, Arizona and Birmingham, Alabama is not a surprise. The remaining cities — Columbus, Ohio; New York and Philadelphia – are a bit surprising.

Columbus, Ohio is a potentially problematic choice. It’s not as small a city as you may think, and it has its charms. But hosting a convention is a massive financial, logistical, and security challenge. The city has no mass transit beyond buses. (Perfectly appropriate for the party of money-losing high-speed rail projects, no?) There are some corporate headquarters there, but one has to wonder if it has enough Democrats with deep pockets willing to donate the money to run all of the events. Keep in mind, Republicans just swept the 2014 midterms in Ohio, and the Ohio Democratic Party is in rough shape. 

Admit it, you couldn’t pick this skyline out of a lineup.

Philadelphia hosted the Republicans in 2000, and handled most of the logistics well. It’s probably the “safest” choice, although not a particularly bold or glamorous one.

New York City is obviously used to handling large events and conventions. (Minor complication: The convention would be held in Brooklyn, and the biggest and fanciest hotels are in Manhattan. Do you picture all of those big party donors, fixers, hangers-on, and other crowds taking the subway?) 

If you think Hillary Clinton will be the nominee, there’s a historical symmetry there. The last time Democrats held their convention in New York City was 1992… when they nominated Bill Clinton. One can’t help but wonder if Mayor Bill de Blasio, crusader against horse-drawn carriages and charter schools, could create some embarrassing headlines in the run-up to the convention. 

Tags: Democratic Convention

Chuck Schumer: Obamacare Was a Mistake, but Only in the Timing!



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From the Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Chuck Schumer: Obamacare Was a Mistake, but Only in the Timing!

Let’s take a story like this and figure out what the real angle is:

Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies “are and will continue to be positive changes,” he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.

There’s some truth to Schumer’s theory, of course. Obamacare never polled well. Deep-rooted national economic anxiety exploded in late 2008 and never dissipated completely.

Remember that thing called “the stimulus”? Schumer’s theory of “How It All Went Wrong” requires us to think the stimulus was a success, and Obamacare was a success, and that the problem for the Democrats was just the order of things:

“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” Schumer said. “We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

If Americans continue to feel such widespread, deep-rooted economic anxiety, just how much of a success was that “partial success” of the stimulus?

Most Democrats — following the lead of their president — passed the stimulus and believed they had fixed the economy. Do not forget this anecdote from New York magazine, November 29, 2009:

But the most damaging consequence of all may have been inside the White House, where bullishness about how rapidly the stimulus would kick in led to foolish projections that unemployment would peak at 8 percent — and where the bill’s passage bred a certain cockiness and complacency about the need to drive a sustained economic message in the months thereafter. “I recently talked to a very senior friend of mine in the White House, and I said, ‘How did we not spend a year talking about the economy?’ ” a Democratic think-tank maven recalls. “And he said, ‘Look, I think Barack did the stimulus and he thought he checked the box and he moved on.’ I said, ‘That’s not governing, dude. That’s some other thing.’ ”

The ailments of the American economy are too big, interconnected, and complicated for any one giant Keynesian spending spree to fix — particularly one that that ends up as the usual crony-capitalist, special-interest giveaway. Do enough of our workers really have the skills to compete against foreign competition? How can we expect wages to increase when we’re importing workers — particularly low-skilled and unskilled workers — from other countries? Are great ideas being born in some big dreamer’s garage? Haven’t underwater mortgages made it harder for workers to move to areas of the country with job growth? Are our universities churning out too many sociology majors and not enough engineers? Aren’t too many schools at every level failing to prepare students for the workforce?

Schumer needs an explanation for two consecutive blowout losses in the midterms that indicate Democrats have a difficult time winning without Obama’s personality on the ballot. He’s in the right neighborhood, by recognizing that economic fears are still strong, but he can’t quite bring himself to acknowledge that neither the stimulus nor Obamacare lived up to the hype for the average American.

Tags: Chuck Schumer , Barack Obama , Obamacare , Stimulus

The Brutal Truth: As Obama Goes, So Go the Democrats



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John Dickerson, attempting to get Democrats, and Hillary Clinton, to acknowledge the obvious:

Each Democratic candidate who hopes to have a chance will run supporting Obama’s positions on health care, immigration, and climate change. Given those positions on the big things, any move to distance themselves from Obama will seem puny by comparison. In newsrooms, editors will monitor the micrometers between the faintest policy differences, and they will shout emergency orders to make a big deal about it. But despite all the talk about distancing, candidates will learn what Democratic senators up for re-election learned this fall: Resistance is futile. If there is a D next to your name, you can’t really get that far from the president. Over the next two years, if you could capture the relative political distance between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Hyperlapse, it would look like two figures standing in place with a blast from the flash cameras every time one or the other made the smallest wiggle but retaining their essential original posture.

Democrats can’t escape Obama any more than McCain could escape Bush. Running for a metaphorical “third term” is hard, even during a time of relative peace and prosperity. It worked for George H. W. Bush but didn’t work for Al Gore.

How likely is it that the autumn of 2016 seems like a time of peace and prosperity? How likely is it that when Election Day 2016 rolls around, a majority of Americans like the job Obama is doing?

Headwinds.

Tags: Barack Obama , Democrats , Hillary Clinton

Will the Violence in Ferguson Have Any Lasting Impact?



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With violence breaking out on Monday of Thanksgiving week, amidst a busy news cycle, it’s possible that most of the rest of the country moves on and forgets about the events in Ferguson, Mo.

How much does the community of Ferguson get tainted with the actions of the violent protesters, even though, initial arrest reports indicate, most of those arrested didn’t live in Ferguson?

President Obama weighed in on the grand jury’s decision last night. Will other key political figures feel the need to do the same — or to say anything beyond platitudes — or will they prefer to let the events fade into history? Hillary Clinton didn’t address Michael Brown’s shooting until 19 days after the event. Kentucky senator (and potential presidential candidate) Rand Paul has made extensive efforts to reach out to the African-American community, including emphasizing their concerns that the criminal-justice sentencing guidelines are biased against members of that community.

One thing we should not expect from these events is a change in how Americans view relations between blacks and whites in the United States; polling on race relations has remained remarkably stable for the past decade:

The time period in the above chart includes Hurricane Katrina, Obama’s election and reelection, the Trayvon Martin case, the coverage of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and high rates of unemployment among all groups, but particularly African Americans, during the Great Recession. And yet, views on race relations seem pretty positive and pretty stable.

Tags: Ferguson

The Protesters in Ferguson, Living Down to Your Worst Expectations



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Protesters in Ferguson, Living Down to Your Worst Expectations

Awful, predictable, and awfully predictable:

Shortly after 1:30 a.m., St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar spoke with reporters at a press conference after a night of looting and burned-out businesses after the grand jury announcement. He said he was grateful nobody was killed but disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area.

“What I’ve seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that’s truly unfortunate,” he said.

He said that there was basically “nothing left” along West Florissant between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road. “Frankly, I’m heartbroken about that,” he said.

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said, “We talked about peaceful protest, and that did not happen tonight. We definitely have done something here that’s going to impact our community for a long time . . . that’s not how we create change.”

Belmar said that officers did deploy tear gas near West Florissant and Chambers roads and a highway patrol lieutenant was hit by a glass bottle. He said as far as he knew police did not fire shots but there was plenty of gunfire in the area. He said he personally heard at least 150 shots.

Crazy thought here; next time you have a controversial announcement to make, do it at 7 a.m.; the hooligans are still sleeping.

For all of the people who see the events in Ferguson, Mo., as deeply symbolic, an example of giant, pressing national problems and deep-rooted injustices and discrimination against the African-American community, particularly in poorer communities . . . I cannot help but suspect that millions of Americans don’t find it symbolic of much of anything at all. Correction; if it symbolizes anything, it reflects the media’s appetite for a preconceived storyline involving a “gentle giant” and a villainous cop:

Teachers described Brown as a “gentle giant,” a student who loomed large and didn’t cause trouble. Friends describe him as a quiet person with a wicked sense of humor, one who loved music and had begun to rap. He fought an uphill battle to graduate.

Above: The “gentle giant” assaulting a convenience-store worker.

Liberals struggle with this as well; Daily Kos commenters turned on each other in discussing whether the convenience-store video revealed something meaningful about Brown. At issue is the inability to simultaneously rectify the notion that Brown wasn’t a “gentle giant” and was in fact a bully and a thief and the notion that whatever Brown did, it’s an awful tragedy for an 18-year-old to get shot and killed. Maybe the shooting was justified, but that doesn’t mean it was a good thing.

Ace:

Greg Gutfeld mentioned a New York Times reporter who seemed to object to reporting that the coroner’s report that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of death, by asking, “Why does it matter that he had marijuana in his system?”

Gutfeld answered: It matters because it’s a fact.

He further noted that the media seemed very interested in a “clean narrative” — not accurate reporting, but a clean, Aesop’s Fable-like tight little narrative that proved a particular point in an ongoing Morality Play called “the news.”

He’s right: The “narrative-makers” of the media are interested in writing Aesop’s Fables with a political agenda item, and not so interested in reporting the facts of incidents and events, which are often messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play “lesson” — Because life itself is messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play “lesson.”

Life is complicated — when the New York Times reports on progressive agenda items, less so.

Reporting used to be about real life.

But it’s not about real life anymore. It’s about simplified, sharp-corners-sanded-down fables — like children’s stories.

The media is writing their reports like Children’s Stories because they conceive of their audience as essentially children, whom you must protect from jarring facts which might teach “the wrong lessons.”

People were willing to set strangers’ cars on fire because they were absolutely certain what happened, in a sequence of events they did not personally witness.

Tags: Ferguson

Report: Hagel Stepping Down; ‘He Wasn’t Up to the Job’



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From the November 17 Morning Jolt:

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.

To be honest, I thought that was unlikely. Why now? Obama’s foreign policy, defense policies, and national-security team performed badly throughout all of 2014. What changed? Then this morning we see . . . 

Always listen to Bing West!

UPDATE: Jim, back in February:

[With all the national security crises going on], maybe this isn’t the right time for a quiet, disregarded cipher to be running the Pentagon?

Politico’s Morning Defense newsletter, shortly thereafter:

FOUND — AN ANTHEM FOR HAGEL . . . AND IT’S NOT ‘NOWHERE MAN’: Your Morning D correspondent finally caught up on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon over the weekend. Particularly awesome was U2’s concert on the roof of Rockefeller Center, where they sang their new song, “Invisible.” Well, having just read the fourth op-ed/article about how Hagel is “invisible” as defense secretary, your correspondent thought this song (and this performance) could become Hagel’s anthem of sorts. “You don’t see me but you will. I am not invisible,” Bono sings. http://goo.gl/nyyqtB

— SOMEONE CALL JIM GERAGHTY: The fourth Hagel-is-invisible installment comes from The National Review’s Jim Geraghty http://goo.gl/8xMXT8. He ends his piece with a photo of Hagel and the line, “Have you seen this man? If so, call (202) 456-1111.” No, that’s not Geraghty’s cell phone number, but the White House comment line (thank you, Defense News’ John Bennet (@BennettJohnT) for calling). Anyway, after today’s press briefing, can someone give Geraghty a ring . . . let him know we’ve found Hagel. He’s at the Pentagon. Fancy that.

An unnamed administration official, today:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down amid criticism of the president’s national security team on a series of global issues, including the threat posed by the militant group known as ISIS.

Senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News Monday that Hagel was forced to resign.

The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.”

Remember which news sources are telling you the administration’s line that everything is hunky-dory!

Tags: Chuck Hagel

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