The Campaign Spot

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

Today’s Important Message: You Should Not Live in Fear.


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Today’s Important Message: You Should Not Live in Fear.

Are Americans safer from Islamist terror? We sure as heck don’t feel that way.

The nation is on edge in the wake of brutal beheadings of journalists by Islamic extremists — with more Americans saying the United States is less safe now than at any point since 9/11, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll shows.

The exclusive poll reveals that 47% of Americans believe the country is less safe now than before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That’s a significant increase from even a year after the twin towers fell when in September 2002 just 20% of the country said the nation was less safe.

In my piece on NRO today:

Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seems less concerned. On Monday, he declared on CNN’s New Day that the United States doesn’t have intelligence indicating there are any active plans for a terrorist attack ahead of the 9/11 anniversary. “No, we don’t have any information about credible planning for an attack,” Royce said.

“Any time you get around a major anniversary in the minds of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, that can be a time of increased concern and intelligence monitoring,” said Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “We know they’re so fixated and obsessed on those particular dates. Given that it’s coming up on 9/11, we know there are operational activities, both al-Qaeda and this new threat matrix of all these al-Qaeda affiliates. Some have aspirations to do Western attacks, some have capabilities to do Western attacks, all of that just makes the challenge all the more difficult for the agencies we charge with stopping terror attacks.”

If you’re feeling anxiety . . . don’t.

Not because the threat isn’t real, but because you are not meant to live in fear. There have been 4,747 days since 9/11. In that time, the bad guys have managed a few hits but only a handful on the home front. Fort Hood. The Boston Marathon bombing. The LAX counter shooting. The Arkansas recruiting office shooting.

They’ve also had some near-misses: The underwear bomber flying into Detroit. The 2010 Times Square bombing attempt.

If you’re living outside the homeland, you’re at a higher risk, but again, for most of those 4,747 days, the good guys have kept the bad guys bottled up or stymied.

The odds are in your favor today, and every day. A lot of dedicated men and women are working around the clock to keep you safe. There’s not much left for us to do, other than point out an unattended bag or if we see someone behaving suspiciously, tell a cop.

That NBC News/WSJ poll also found:

According to the poll, 61 percent of American voters believe that the United States taking military action against ISIS is in United States’ interest, versus 13 percent who don’t. (Another 24 percent said they don’t know enough to have an opinion.)

That’s a significant change when a similar question was asked last year about the U.S. taking possible action against Syria’s government after its reported use of chemical weapons.

Back then, only 21 percent said action was in the nation’s interest, while 33 percent said it wasn’t.

Tags: Terrorism , ISIS , Ed Royce , Mike Rogers

The Tipping Point for Intolerable Behavior from NFL Players


Janay Rice, who was knocked out by her then-fiancé​, Ray Rice, issues a statement blasting the media for “unwanted options” and for causing her pain; she assures the world that she and Ray “will continue to show the world what real love is.”

Perhaps that helps illuminate why prosecutors did not throw the book at Rice, and why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell initially felt Rice deserved merely a two-game suspension.

As noted in today’s Jolt:

The Video That Might Cost an NFL Commissioner His Job

Behold, Ray Rice, managing to put a sour mood across the NFL’s opening weekend.

Mark Hemingway asks, “Why was the Ray Rice video straw that broke the camel’s back? We knew he knocked his fiancé out . . . how did people think that happened?”

At Red State, Leon Wolf answers that question, with a good point for any of us who communicate for a living:

We humans are weird creatures. It is one thing to know, intellectually, that Ray Rice knocked a woman unconscious in a hotel elevator. It is another thing to actually see it happen. Back when we all knew that Ray Rice had knocked Janay Palmer unconscious, Ray Rice faced a two game suspension from the NFL and still had his job with the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, the NFL and the Ravens both took criticism for that, but both entities felt that they could weather this criticism, with good reason. Now that all of America practically has actually seen the incident in question, the NFL and Ravens both know that standing behind Rice will simply not be tenable any longer, and so he finds himself out of a job and perhaps unemployable. The NFL deserves all the ridicule it is getting today for its laughable claim that it has never seen the video before today, but it is very clear that what forced the NFL’s hand is that we, the public have now all seen it.

Humans place inordinate value at an emotional level upon what they can see, as opposed to what is visible with all their other senses. A good amount of scientific study shows in fact that in many situations we place too much emphasis on visual cues taken from pictures and tend to divorce those pictures from what we know about the rest of the context about a fact, or ignore what information we don’t have about context, which makes our understanding imperfect. As noted in this excellent piece from the New Yorker, divining the truth from a picture can sometimes be a challenge even for people who are highly trained almost exclusively to divine truth from pictures, like radiologists.

None of this changes the fact, however, that as humans we react powerfully to what we can see and usually ignore what we don’t, at least on an emotional level.

If we hear that Ray Rice punched out his fiancée, and only see the aftermath, we’re mad. If we see Ray Rice punching out his fiancée, we’re furious.

It may not be particularly fair to Ray Rice that he gets a third round of punishment from his employers, separate from the legal system, because more video of the incident reaches the public’s eyes. But I’m just not that bothered about unfairness of the circumstances for a guy who knocked out his fiancée and, considering how hard her head hit that metal railing in the elevator, came chillingly close to inflicting traumatic brain injury.

Monday night, word broke that “TMZ says they are dropping big news that the NFL turned a blind eye to the Ray Rice video.” By the time you read this, this story may have taken another awful chapter. We’ll see what they mean by “turned a blind eye.”

One wonders if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might have to fall on his sword as his decision to initially suspend Rice for a mere two games grows ever more inexplicable. Can he reassure the fan bases, the media, and the owners that he’s got the good judgment to handle these sorts of disciplinary issues?

The long-simmering issue of NFL player behavior may be reaching a tipping point. By some measurements, the arrest rate for NFL players is significantly lower than that of the public at large.To paraphrase what I heard on the car radio from ESPN’s Colin Cowherd a few days ago, you’re dealing with a population of young healthy men with extraordinary amounts of money and fame, residing in the nation’s biggest and most glamorous cities and with very little to do for half the year besides stay in shape. Some of these guys come from rough neighborhoods and have no-good friends, and that doesn’t count all of the opportunists who pop up once a young man, quite often with limited college education, suddenly has money to burn. He says he’s surprised the arrest rate is as low as it is. A large portion of NFL player arrests are DUIs, reckless driving, drunk and disorderly, drug possession — not harmless, but not exactly surprising considering the circumstances.

But we, the public, paying for those monster salaries and buying the jerseys and doing all the things we do to financially support the players, have a right to expect better behavior. Or perhaps we have a right to expect our legal system to stop letting professional athletes out with a comparable slap on the wrist. Aaron Hernandez is on trial for murder; the Cowboys’ Josh Brent got 180 days in jail for a DUI car crash that killed his teammate, and Donté Stallworth served 30 days in jail for a DUI manslaughter charge after killing a pedestrian. (He’s now signed with the Huffington Post Huffies as a national-security correspondent.)

We’ve never seen anything like this befo–

Okay, we’ve rarely seen anything like this before now.

Tags: Ray Rice , NFL


New Nikki Haley Ad in South Carolina: ‘Crickets’


A new ad from the reelection campaign of Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina:

No one has publicly polled this race since July, but the last three surveys had Haley ahead by a significant margin.

Tags: Nikki Haley , Vincent Sheheen

Summarizing This Morning’s Poll for Democrats: DOOM DOOM DOOM.


From the Tuesday edition of Morning Jolt:

Summarizing This Morning’s Poll for Democrats: DOOM DOOM DOOM.

Good morning, Mr. President!

With the midterm elections looming, Americans by a 10-point margin, 52-42 percent, see his presidency more as a failure than a success.

Just 38 percent now approve of Obama’s handling of international affairs, down 8 percentage points since July to a career low; 56 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time. Fifty-two percent say he’s been too cautious in dealing with Islamic insurgents in Iraq and Syria. And the public is ahead of Obama in support for a military response to that crisis, with 65 percent in favor of extending U.S. air strikes to Syria.

At home, with Obama holding off his promised executive action on immigration reform, a new low of just 31 percent approve of his handling of immigration. Fifty-nine percent disapprove, up by a broad 18 points from spring 2013, when progress on the issue seemed imminent.

And good morning, congressional Democrats!

Registered voters divide by 46-44 percent between the Democrat and the Republican in their congressional district. Among those who say they’re certain to vote, that goes to a 47-44 percent Republican-Democratic race, underscoring the GOP’s customary advantage in midterm turnout. As a rough guide, when the Democrats lack a double-digit lead among registered voters in the generic matchup, they’re at some risk.

Indeed, independents side substantially more with GOP candidates – by 47-35 percent among registered voters. That puts all the more pressure on Democrats to boost their turnout, or suffer.

Finally, “Registered voters are more likely to say they’ll be casting their midterm ballot to show opposition to Obama than support for him, by 27 percent vs. 19 percent – not an overwhelming gap, but one similar to the result on Bush in 2006, a sweep year for the out-party.”

Tags: Polling

An Awful Irony for an ‘Anti-Bullying’ Activist


Monday brims with bitter ironies. Newly released NFL running back Ray Rice, disgraced because of his brutal, unprovoked assault upon his then-fiancé​e in an elevator, was an outspoken activist against . . . bullying.

Here’s Rice attending the bill signing of Governor Martin O’Malley’s anti-cyber-bullying law:

O’Malley released a statement today:

The video released this morning of this domestic assault was horrible, shocking, and reprehensible. Everyone can do more to help end the scourge of domestic violence. Please consider supporting the House of Ruth, and learn about what Maryland is doing to reduce violence against women and children:

Tags: Crime , Martin O'Malley


‘Steve Sotloff and James Foley Would Tell Us, Don’t Be Impulsive’


Perhaps this is what Cory Gardner needs in Colorado:

In the course of an hour-long debate with Gardner in Grand Junction, Colo., Udall said that “ISIL does not present an imminent threat to this nation.” He cited his membership on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee to substantiate that assertion, and he even invoked the names of the American journalists murdered at the hands of the Islamic State in the course of his pleas for restraint.

“I can tell you,” Udall said, “Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”

How do the Sotloff and Foley families feel about Senator Udall invoking their sons as his supporting allies in this debate?

Tags: Mark Udall , Cory Gardner , ISIS

Four Senate Democratic Incumbents Look Really Vulnerable


If I wanted to help GOP Senate candidates and had limited resources, I would be pouring my efforts into Colorado, where Cory Gardner is trailing a little too consistently considering the quality of the candidate and the overall GOP environment . . . 

 . . . Iowa, where Joni Ernst is very close, but not quite there, and a new poll puts her down by 5 . . . 

 . . . and Michigan, where Terri Lynn Land has a one-point lead in the latest poll, but has otherwise trailed slightly.

Note that only Gardner is running against an incumbent. An incumbent senator in the mid-40s or lower is probably in deeper trouble, because the voters have known that senator for at least six years and the opinion is probably tougher to change. Right now, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado is at 45.5 in the RealClearPolitics average.

Surprises can happen, of course. Senator Harry Reid finished with 45.3 in the RealClearPolitics average in 2010, and won reelection with more than 50 percent of the vote. But that year Russ Feingold of Wisconsin finished with a RCP average of 45 percent, and finished with 47 percent to Ron Johnson’s 51.9 percent. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas finished with an abysmal 35 percent in the RCP average and got 36.9 percent on Election Day. In Colorado, Michael Bennet finished with 46.3 percent in the RCP average, but his Election Day finish with 47.7 percent was enough for a narrow victory over Ken Buck.

Here’s the current RCP average vote percentage for some of the vulnerable incumbent Senate Democrats this year:

Mark Begich of Alaska: 42.7 percent.

Kay Hagan of North Carolina: 42.5 percent.

Mark Pryor of Arkansas: 42.2 percent.

Mary Landrieu of Louisiana: 38.7 percent (in an open primary).

Polls put Republican Senate candidates Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) slightly ahead right now. For a challenger, if you’re enjoying a small lead in September over an incumbent polling in the low 40s, you’re in a pretty good place.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how some safer senators are performing:

Mark Warner of Virginia: 51 percent.

Jeff Merkley of Oregon: 50.3 percent.

Al Franken of Minnesota: 50 percent.

Dick Durbin of Illinois: 49.7 percent.

Cory Booker of New Jersey: 49 percent.

Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire: 47.7 percent.

There’s been some buzz among conservative blogs that Durbin and Booker are vulnerable. I suppose that depends upon how you define “vulnerable.”

UPDATE: Stu Rothenberg, moments ago:

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats. But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.

That’s a scenario easy to picture: Republicans keep the red seats they’re defending (Kentucky, Georgia, and some would argue Kansas), take care of business in the three safe pickups (South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia), and then clean up in the four red-leaning, Democrat-held seats listed above, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. That adds up to a seven-seat gain; Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan would be the most likely pickups after that.

Tags: Senate Democrats , Senate Republicans

Wendy Davis Tells Voters About Some Past ‘Decisions’


A woman’s choice to have an abortion is between her, her doctor, and her pro-choice donor base when she trails by a significant margin in the Texas governor’s race:

Tags: Wendy Davis

Hollywood Democrats, Digging Deep for Lundergan Grimes and Nunn


The Democrats’ friends in Hollywood are making a big push to help Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Michelle Nunn in Georgia.

On Tuesday, Nunn — who has been a frequent visitor to LA’s Westside this season, arrives back in town Tuesday for an early evening reception at the Hancock Park mansion of media moguls Michael Kong and Stacey Twilley. Among the hosts contributing $5,200 each to fuel Nunn’s Georgia run are Keith Addis, Marcy Carsey, Sherry Lansing, Michael Lombardo & Sonny Ward, Howie Mandel and Nancy Stephens. Other tickets are scaled from $2,600 apiece down to $500.

Grimes’ September 18 fundraiser is shaping up to be Hollywood’s biggest A-ticket event this month. Like all of Grimes’ Los Angeles fundraisers, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is once again a driving force. The studio chief has not only declared Grimes’ election his number one priority of this electoral cycle but already has raised well over $1 million on her behalf. In this final push, Katzenberg appears to be pulling in support from all corners of the industry, including director James Cameron, who in recent years has been a donor to Republican candidates.

You can picture the NRSC’s web videos already: “It’s crunch time, so Michelle Nunn/Alison Lundergan Grimes are headed to Hollywood, not Georgia/Kentucky” . . . 

According to the June 30 filing statements, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has $3.1 million more cash on hand than Grimes. But Nunn has $4 million more on hand than David Purdue in Georgia. Still, if Purdue needs some more cash, he can probably find it: “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported Perdue’s net worth, after examining his disclosure, at between $11.9 million and $48 million.”

Lundergan Grimes and Nunn probably don’t actually need more money; they need a more convincing case that they won’t be like the national Democrats that are so unpopular in Kentucky and Georgia.

Tags: Kentucky , Georgia , Hollywood , Alison Lundergan Grimes , Michelle Nunn

How You Checking Your Phone at a Red Light Assists the Nanny State


The first Morning Jolt of the week features a Senate-race poll roundup, the potential breakup of the United Kingdom, and then this observation about how selfish behavior fuels the nanny state:

How You Checking Your Phone at a Red Light Assists the Nanny State

Dear driver in front of me of the left-turn-only lane,

It appears you’re reading this message on a smart phone during a pause that began as a red light, but became a green light while you were staring at this phone instead of the traffic light in front of you. And now we’re behind you, honking our horns.

I have a feeling you’ve been here before. You’re familiar with this intersection, right? This is the left-turn lane, and we have a green arrow for maybe twenty seconds, tops. If everyone’s paying attention, we can get six cars through, maybe seven if we really push it and slip through in the closing seconds of yellow. We’re all sitting here, trying to get to the preschool. We all have roughly the same drop-off time. We all want to get on with our day, just like you do.

I understand the temptation to check your smartphone. We all know that this is a long light — if you miss the green or yellow arrow, you’re sitting there for another two or three minutes. I can tell you’re not checking your rear-view mirror, but if you did, you would see a lot of us back here.

Those of us back here are sitting here — weekday morning after weekday morning — because you feel the need to check your smartphone when you’re the first car in line in the left-turn lane. And with frustratingly metronomic regularity, you’re looking at your phone when the light turns green, and those of us back here have to honk our horns to alert you to the fact that the light has changed, and you and maybe one or two cars get through, and the rest of us are waiting another couple minutes for the lights to cycle again.

This is a basic matter of consideration for your fellow human beings. Yes, it is boring to just look at a traffic light. But you’re prioritizing your need to interrupt just a few minutes of boredom over our need to get moving when the light turns green.

In Virginia, texting while driving now gets you a $125 fine, $250 for a second offense. It was recently upgraded to a “a primary offense, which means police can pull you over if they suspect you of texting while driving.” But we don’t really need to throw the book at the people unlucky or unwise enough to check their phones while behind the wheel in front of a cop. We just need people to not look at their farshtunken phone while driving, or while sitting at a red light!

Government and police enforcement are not really needed to deal with you, driver in front of me. It just requires you to use a little better judgment and think about the people behind you. It’s a lot easier to preserve personal liberties when people practice personal responsibility. The touchy-feely communitarians always want to put the needs of the community first — well, their chosen definition of the community’s needs first — above the rights of the individual. Their instinct to try to make a rule, regulation, homeowners’-association bylaw, or law for every single circumstance is a pain in the tush, but they have an easier case to make every time you behave in a manner that prizes only your interests and needs and disregards everyone else’s.

Unfortunately, every time you delay the rest of us, you create a problem that Authenticity Woods busybodies will want to turn into a crime.

Green means “go”, pal.

Tags: Something Lighter , Nanny State , Virginia

No Obama Immigration Action Until After November Elections


A new GOP message for the midterms: November is your last chance to send a message to President Obama to not unilaterally rewrite America’s immigration policy!

If this is such a great idea, why wait until after the elections? Perhaps it’s not such a good idea!

In fact, if 74 percent of Americans oppose the president doing this unilaterally… maybe it’s a terrible idea, hm?

Allahpundit, on why Obama’s waiting: “Once the people have been safely duped and the votes are in, Obama will announce his mega-amnesty in November or December. The point is to ensure that voters aren’t making a fully informed choice when they go to the polls this fall. That might turn out badly for the left, so the king is once again exercising his royal prerogative to shield them from political difficulty. Just like he did repeatedly in moving statutory deadlines around for ObamaCare.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

Great News! Corbett Is Only Down 11, Everybody!


When you see this headline…

… and then this story

First, Harper Polling released a survey Thursday that showed Corbett trailing Democrat Tom Wolf by 11 percentage points, a much tighter race than two other recent polls found.

Second, the Republican Governors Association announced it gave $3.5 million to his campaign coffers – a possible indication that the national GOP has not written off Corbett. RGA had already given Corbett $1.8 million.

… you realize just how low the bar for “good news” has been set for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania.

If some other aspiring Republican governor falls just short — Bob Beauprez in Colorado? Tom Foley in Connecticut? Doug Ducey in Arizona?  – that RGA donation of $3.5 million may look like a waste.

Tags: Tom Corbett , RGA

Bob McDonnell, Disgrace


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Bob McDonnell, Disgrace

You should have taken the plea deal, Governor McDonnell.

Virginia’s 71st governor, Bob McDonnell, on Thursday became the first in the state’s history to be convicted of a felony, turning a legacy dominated by steering the state through austere times into one tarnished by corruption.

Just blocks from the state Capitol that served as the backdrop for his ascension to national prominence, a federal jury convicted McDonnell and former first lady Maureen McDonnell on multiple counts in U.S. District Court.

As a court clerk read the verdict count by count, finding Bob McDonnell guilty on 11 of 13 charges and Maureen McDonnell on nine of 13, the former governor dissolved into tears, covering his eyes and shuddering as several of his children audibly sobbed in the rows behind.

The former first lady also wept, as did other family members and supporters.

Judge James R. Spencer will sentence the McDonnells on Jan. 6. They could face decades in prison but are likely to be sentenced to considerably less time under federal guidelines. Defense attorney Henry Asbill said Bob McDonnell would appeal the verdict.

Score one for Mitt Romney’s vetting team.

The lawyers I know were surprised by the scale of the verdict, but not the ultimate direction. McDonnell’s defense – sure, I took all those gifts and didn’t report them, but you can’t prove a quid pro quo of favors to the donor– always seemed too cute by half and unlikely to fly with a Richmond jury unlikely to be sympathetic to politicians, Republicans, or a silver-haired white guy who wears a Rolex.

Chris Cillizza:

There is simply no way that any politician who was as allegedly able and ambitious as McDonnell would not understand that the relationship between his family and Williams was deeply inappropriate.  It’s inconceivable. And yet, that was the case that the McDonnells sought to make in the weeks-long trial that saw almost seven dozen witnesses called.  McDonnell, his lawyers argued, was simply doing for Williams what he would do for any Virginia businessman hoping to get attention for a product. (Williams was pushing a dietary supplement called Anatabloc.)  That eye-rollingly-difficult-to-believe justification for the parade of gifts showered on the McDonnells was made even less believable by a number of former aides to the governor and First Lady who said they had repeatedly warned the two of the impropriety of their relationship with Williams.

It’s not that every little gesture between a donor and elected official needs to be documented and litigated, but that gray area of “chumminess” was always potential for trouble. The bar for “corruption” has probably been lowered, but that doesn’t appear to be a case of runaway prosecutors or vengeful juries:

James noted that Williams was never able to testify that McDonnell or his wife ever promised him an official action in exchange for his gifts.

Instead, the case against them was built around more low-key events, such as McDonnell’s instructions to set up meetings for Williams or attending an event at the governor’s mansion that marked the launch of one of Williams’ new products. And prosecutors were unable to show that Williams got anything tangible for all the money he showered on the McDonnell family.

Cillizza concludes, “I am left with a feeling of amazement at the vast gap between how McDonnell was regarded (including by me) as recently as two years ago and who he turned out to be.  His judgment, which was touted as one of his best attributes, wound up being one of his worst.”

Tell me about it, Chris. 

Tags: Bob McDonnell

Why We Fight


From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Why We Fight

Jonah’s always awesome, but this point from yesterday afternoon is really important. He points to some transcripts of ISIS members, cheerfully laughing and appreciating that their rule has re-institated the practice of buying and selling women as sex slaves.

Then Jonah notes:

… the president has done everything he can to claim that his domestic political opponents are engaged in a “war on women.” He won an election largely because he convinced enough women — and pliant journalists — to take this bilge seriously. Just this week the head of his party went on at great length to claim that the Republican governor of Wisconsin has been “giving women the back of his hand.”

Oh, and let us not forget, the president and his supporters work very hard to paint their domestic political opponents as religious extremists because some private businesses and religious groups don’t want to pay for procedures that violate their conscience. 

Now compare this to the people who are celebrating the fact their faith allows them to enslave women. 

Just think about it for a moment. The president surely knows about this. His administration surely knows about this. And yet, the president — this modern incarnation of Lincoln, protector of women and opponent of domestic religious extremism — defines his goal for ISIS as reducing it to a “manageable problem.” Does this mean that if ISIS renounces any designs on attacking the US homeland (an impossibility given the tenets of their faith and ambition for a global caliphate) he will stand by as they continue to barter women as sex slaves and breeders? This is the same man who campaigned in Berlin as a “citizen of the world” and champion of global community. 

Forgive me, but the term, “Lincolnesque” doesn’t immediately spring to mind. 

The disconnect goes beyond mere inconsistency or hypocrisy. It is a moral sickness that is sickening to behold.

Remember President Kennedy’s speech about going to the moon?

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Whatever else you think of President Kennedy, he grasped that a big part of leadership is persuading people to do things that they would rather not do, often because those tasks are difficult. And a good leader gets people to do those things because they’re needed.

Look at what the president insists upon talking about in his fundraiser speeches and other public events this autumn: Hiking the minimum wage. The “gender pay gap” (that shrinks dramatically once you account for interruptions in a woman’s career for child-rearing). Climate change and “carbon pollution.”

Meanwhile, ISIS is planning to murder us.

The quasi-isolationist vibe going through the Democratic Party since, oh, late 2003 or so reflects their desire to avoid doing things that are hard. If we absolutely must intervene in Libya, we’ll “lead from behind.” If we absolutely must kill someone, better for the president to have a personal, secret “kill list” and launch unmanned drone strikes in far-off lands, so the American people don’t have to hear about it and have to think about it.

Are drone strikes enough to contain militant Islam? Look at the evidence around us. Look at Libya. Look at Syria. Look at Iraq. Look at Pakistan. God forbid, look somewhere closer someday soon.

But persuading the American people to accept a more aggressive policy would be hard, particularly after this president spent years assuring them that “the tide of war is receding” and “al-Qaeda is on the run.”

Democrats – and perhaps almost all of Washington – shy away from doing things that are hard.

Stopping Putin? That’s hard. Pushing back against the rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism in Europe? That’s hard. Addressing the insufficient skill-set of the American workforce in a rapidly-changing, globalized economy? Really hard. Creating a culture of opportunity, responsibility and accountability in the worst neighborhoods in the inner cities? Nothing’s worked wonders yet. Ensuring every child is raised in a loving home? That’s hard.

Entitlement reform? Too difficult to even mention. The national debt? Too big and difficult to even think about.

Cleaning out the dead wood from the federal bureaucracy and instituting a new culture of accountability and results? That’s really hard.

It’s much easier to fume at length about Todd Akin and “binders full of women” and what Phil Robertson said on “Duck Dynasty” and sneer at gun owners and religious Christians. Vast swaths of our public debate revolve around metronomic “Can you believe what this person said?” outrages. Any ill-tempered comment from any little-known “GOP lawmaker” anywhere in the country can set off a couple news cycles of ritualistic denunciation.

Driving the guy at Mozilla out of his job is relatively easy. Making a figure so controversial that they’re metaphorically radioactive is easy.

Considering what liberals claim to care about, they have every reason to focus their fury upon militant Islam… but they don’t. Liberals claim to care about underprivileged children and the importance of education, so they have every reason to lash out at status-quo-defending teacher’s unions and demand public school choice for every parent everywhere in the country… but most of them don’t. Liberals claim to care about low-income Americans, so they have every reason to oppose allowing more unskilled or low-skilled workers to enter the country illegally… but they don’t. Liberals claim they want to help the little guy, so they have every reason to want to reduce the amount of red tape and paperwork that a new small business faces… but they don’t.

All of those tasks would require them doing something difficult – oftentimes, confronting a part of their own coalition for the status quo.

Every once in a while, Democrats do try something difficult. “Hey, let’s set up a system that guarantees health insurance to every single American!” Of course, that usually proves to be way, way, way harder than they expected and creating more problems, or worse problems, than when they started.

Remember my “Progressive Aristocracy” series, here and here and here and here and here? The Progressive Aristocracy doesn’t want to do that much, other than tell you how to live your life.

Yes, the Republican Party has its flaws. It often earns its nickname of “the Stupid Party” and it has its weak leaders, its loudmouths too much in love with the sound of their own voices, its craven types eager to find that sweet post-elected office lobbying deal, and its boring old white men with comb-overs, speaking in legislative-ese.

But by and large, the Republicans are worried about the right problems – the big problems: crazy people who want to kill us, a skyrocketing debt, a growing culture of dependency, an avalanche of red tape strangling the entrepreneurial lifeblood of the economy and an unsecure border.

That’s why this November, we’ve got to elect as many of these guys as we can. Not because they’re perfect, or even all that great; not because their ideas are perfect or even have a good chance of getting past an Obama veto… but because they’re at least looking at the real problems, instead of telling us our eyes are deceiving us and it’s not as bad as it looks

A great country deserves great leadership.

Tags: Democrats , Progressives , Barack Obama

Nobody’s Buzzing About Alison Lundergan Grimes Anymore.


You don’t hear Democrats buzzing about beating Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky these days. There’s a pretty good reason for that.

McConnell doesn’t have a great lead, or an insurmountable lead — just a steady one:

If you’re the DSCC or a Democrat-leaning SuperPAC, what’s the higher priority? Knocking off McConnell? Or saving vulnerable incumbents like Hagan, Udall, Landrieu, Pryor, etc.?

Tags: Alison Lundergan Grimes , Mitch McConnell

Biden’s Strangely Political ‘Official’ Visit to New England


Vice President Joe Biden travels to New Hampshire and Maine today:

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to tour the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard this morning, an event we are told will highlight the shipyard’s work-force engagement. 

Also attending will be U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, representing New Hampshire, along with U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, from Maine — all Democrats.

But it’s totally not a political campaign event, honest!

(Note Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire’s other senator, was not invited to the allegedly non-partisan event.)

Once and perhaps future U.S. Senator Scott Brown welcomes the Vice President to the Granite State with this video:

VICE PRESIDENT BIDENPresident Obama has made those hard calls with strength and steadiness.
And the reason he’s been able to is because he had clear goals and clear strategy how to achieve those goals.
He had a clear vision and has a clear vision for America’s place in the world

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We don’t have a strategy yet.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I am very optimistic about Iraq. I think it is going to be one of the great achievements of this administration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We don’t, we don’t have a strategy.

Tags: Joe Biden , Barack Obama , New Hampshire , Scott Brown

Sleeper Senate Races? Better Get Them Some Coffee!


Politico lists the Senate races in Oregon, Virginia, Minnesota, Kansas and New Jersey as the “sleeper races” of this cycle.

If these are sleeper races, they’re sleeping heavily and somebody needs to get them some coffee. 

In Oregon, Republican candidate Monica Wehby generated some excitement after the primary; there are a lot of worse circumstances to run than being the director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon… in a state where the Obamacare exchange never worked and turned into a $250 million waste. But the one poll of this race released in August showed incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkeley ahead, 52 percent to 33 percent. There’s a lot of ground to make up; we’ll have to see if coming polls show a closer race.

In Virginia, no organization released a public poll of the Senate race in the month of August. Hampton University’s poll, released in late July, shows incumbent Sen. Mark Warner ahead, 55 percent to Ed Gillespie’s 32 percent. Again, a steep climb.

In Minnesota, Republicans have dreamed of beating Sen. Al Franken since his victory in 2008. And in mid-August, Survey USA had Franken ahead by only 9 points, 51 percent to 42 percent, and Rasmussen put Franken up by 8. Mike McFadden is likely to have the funds to run a serious race, but this is a tough state for Republicans.

In Kansas, incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, coming off a tough primary fight, has a smaller lead than one might expect in a heavily-GOP state. Survey USA put Roberts up by 5 and PPP put Roberts up by 7 in mid-August.

In New Jersey, two polls taken in July show incumbent Democrat Cory Booker with modest leads; Quinnipiac put Booker ahead of Republican Jeff Bell by 10 and New York Times/CBS/YouGov put him ahead by 7. Of course, no one should underestimate the difficulty of a non-Chris Christie Republican winning in New Jersey. 

Of course, if a survey comes out showing Oregon, Virginia Minnesota or New Jersey looking like a toss-up… it would set off a wave of Democratic panic.

Tags: Monica Wehby , Ed Gillespie , Pat Roberts , Jeff Bell , Mike McFadden

Friends Don’t Look Friends’ Private Nude Pictures.


Here’s the non-war portion of today’s Morning Jolt:

Friends Don’t Look Friends’ Private Nude Pictures.

Pretend for a moment that you know Kate Upton personally.

[Many male readers of the Morning Jolt are suddenly distracted.]

This is the most modest photo of Kate Upton I could find.

Correction, pretend for a moment that you know Kate Upton personally and the two of you are just friends.

If you knew Kate Upton personally… you wouldn’t look at the pictures that were copied from her private account, showing her nude, right? The pictures hacked off her phone are a violation of her privacy, and while you may not be a criminal for looking at them – although some people want it to be a crime – looking at someone else’s private photographs that were not meant for your eyes is not a nice thing to do.

Oh, you might be tempted… but you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t, because Kate Upton is your friend in this imaginary scenario, and that would be a terrible thing to do to a friend. Also, the world really doesn’t have a shortage of pictures of Kate Upton almost nude – say, the July 2012 cover of GQ — and she didn’t have any problem with anyone looking at any of those.

Here’s why you should avoid looking at those hacked Kate Upton pictures: Someday, you may meet Kate Upton! Sure, it’s not particularly likely, but it’s possible. If you do meet her, and she brings up how awful it was back in September 2014 when her personal pictures were hacked and spread all over the Internet, wouldn’t you want to say, with a clean conscience, “yes, that was awful, I can’t believe someone would do that to you” and not have a nervous twitch indicating that you looked at them?

Really, gentlemen, hasn’t Kate given us enough happiness? Doesn’t she deserve this little bit of decency on our part?

SM notes that our international media sure have picked a convenient time to become adamant about the right to privacy online:

We live in a time where everyone’s private data is compromised daily. People are well aware of the NSA program named Prism that listens in on their dirty phone chat or has access to their webcams broadcasting intimate moments. The celebrity obsessed culture that produces the same curiosity over their nude bodies is run by a media complex more interested in Barack Obama’s tan suit than this massive invasion of privacy or war breaking out all over the world.

Yet no one notices these great offenses when it’s done to the public at large or people they ideologically agree with, or just happen to really like their movie. Why is Jennifer Lawrence’s private data any more important than say Donald Sterling, or Mitt Romney, or more importantly, yours or mine?

Here’s the thing, and the moral betters in the media at large are really going to hate this; People are going to look at the leaked pictures. There’s no grandiose explanation of a larger culture of sexism or war on women and “rape culture” at work here. People are going to look at the pictures because it’s a familiar face, they’re free and it’s one or two clicks. Real issues of sexual abuse however are more complicated than one image of breasts and can’t be explained in listicles or gifs. To contrast, currently in Rotherham, England, there is an actual culture of rape. But because that doesn’t involve the actress from The Hunger Games, the media ignores it. Who has less say in their rights being violated? An actress uploading nude pictures with technology they’re unfamiliar with or a child repeatedly and physically brutalized in unimaginable ways while the world at large ignores it because of political correctness?

Our Tim Cavanaugh with some good wisdom for these good-looking celebrities: “Only [former IRS official] Lois Lerner can truly make data vanish.”

S.E. Cupp: “I’m very sorry we don’t live in a world where celebrity nude photos are un-hackable. But until we have technology that is 100 percent impenetrable, doesn’t it only make sense to say that if you don’t want your nude photos stolen, don’t take nude photos with technology that makes their dissemination easy or store them on technology that can be hacked?”

Tags: Internet , Hacking , Something Lighter

New York Times Columnist: ‘Is the President Consoling Us - or Himself?’


In keeping with the theme of today’s Morning Jolt, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni is sounding… a lot like some longtime conservative critics of the president, and unnerved by the president’s comments and seeming denial of what’s happening overseas. Responding to Obama’s declaration that “the world has always been messy” at a Democratic party fundraiser Friday, Bruni writes:

When the gut-twisting image stuck in your head is of a masked madman holding a crude knife to the neck of an American on his knees in the desert, when you’re reading about crucifixions in the 21st century, when you’re hearing about women sold by jihadists as sex slaves, and when British leaders have just raised the threat level in their country to “severe,” the last thing that you want to be told is that it’s par for the historical course, all a matter of perspective and not so cosmically dire.

Where’s the reassurance — or the sense of urgency — in that?

And maybe the second-to-last thing that you want to be told is that technology and social media amplify peril in a new way and may be the reason you’re feeling especially on edge. Obama said something along those lines, too. It’s not the terror, folks. It’s the tweets.

Is the president consoling us — or himself? It’s as if he’s taken his interior monologue and wired it to speakers in the town square. And it’s rattling.

Perhaps when Air Force One arrives in Estonia and President Obama appears before the press, he will come out with fire in his eyes. Perhaps he will pledge to unleash the full wrath of the arsenal of democracy against ISIS for the barbaric crime of beheading a second American. Perhaps he will use his favorite phrase, “let me be clear,” and send a message to Vladimir Putin that further shenanigans in Ukraine are an act of war, and that if Putin wants to boast that he get to Kiev in two weeks, NATO can prove that it get there quicker as an invited ally. Maybe he’ll come out and be a strong, decisive, confidence-inspiring, oh-so-slightly menacing wartime commander-in-chief.

But maybe not.


Tags: Barack Obama

Obama to Campaign in States Where His Job Approval Is In the Mid-40s


President Obama’s autumn campaign schedule feels a lot like President Bush’s safe-state only itinerary in 2006: “The White House is putting the finishing touches on a post-Labor Day schedule that will send the president to states where he’s still popular, such as: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California, Obama officials and Democratic operatives said this week.”

Michigan is the only state with a competitive Senate race on that list. Republican Terri Lynn Land is keeping it close with Democrat Rep. Gary Peters. In the governor’s race, incumbent Republican Rick Snyder has held a small lead over Democrat Mark Schauer. Note that PPP found Obama’s approval rating in Michigan at 43 percent in early July.

Democrats are feeling cheerier about their odds in Wisconsin’s governor’s race, where Mary Burke is neck-and-neck with incumbent Republican Scott Walker. (Obama held a Labor Day rally in Wisconsin Monday.) But recent polling puts President Obama’s approval rating in Wisconsin at 44 percent

In Pennsylvania, Democrat Tom Wolf appears set to easily beat incumbent Republican Tom Corbett. (NRO’s John Fund dissects the Corbett implosion here.) Wolf may not particularly want the presidential help; the most recent Franklin & Marshall poll put President Obama’s approval at 34 percent

Illinois, President Obama’s home state, offers a Senate race that is not expected to be competitive, with incumbent Dick Durbin heavily favored over Jim Oberweis. But Republicans appear likely to win the governor’s race, with Bruce Rauner enjoying a solid lead over beleaguered incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.  An early August poll put President Obama’s job approval at 45 percent among Illinois registered voters.

In California, Jerry Brown is expected to win reelection over Neel Kashkari. The Field Poll released today found Obama’s job approval at 45 percent — which doesn’t sound so bad, but it’s the lowest ever recorded in that poll.  

​Back in 2006, the Washington Post looked at then-President Bush’s schedule in deep red states and concluded, “The politician who has done more than anyone else over the past decade to build and expand the Republican Party has become a liability to Republicans in many parts of the country.”

Eight years later, the politician who as done more than anyone else over the past decade to build and expand the Democratic Party has become a liability to Democrats in many parts of the country — perhaps even in some states he won twice.

Tags: Barack Obama , Michigan , Wisconsin , Pennsylvania , Illinois , California


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