Americans Want an Iran Deal . . . that They Don’t Believe Will Work.

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Americans Want an Iran Deal . . . that They Don’t Believe Will Work.

The most interesting numbers in the Quinnipiac national poll this morning:

When asked, “Do you think President Obama is a strong supporter of Israel or not?” the survey found 38 percent of registered voters said yes, 48 percent said no.

Quinnipiac asked, “As you may know a preliminary agreement was reached in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons. Do you support or oppose this agreement?” The survey found 58 percent of respondents support, 33 percent oppose.

At first glance, that’s good news for the administration’s proposed Iran deal — er, to the extent the Iranians agree what’s actually in the deal, since they’re denouncing the White House “fact sheet” summarizing the terms.

But the following questions told a different story. The survey asked, “How confident are you that this agreement would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; very confident, somewhat confident, not so confident, or not confident at all?” Quinnipiac found only 4 percent say “very confident,” 31 percent say “somewhat confident”, 23 percent “not so confident,” 39 percent say “not confident at all.”

So 58 percent of registered voters want the deal, and 62 percent of registered voters aren’t so confident about it, meaning some chunk of the electorate is both.

What’s more, when the pollster asked, “Do you think that letter will help or hurt White House efforts to peacefully reduce Iran’s nuclear capabilities, or won’t it make a difference?” only 8 percent said “help,” 37 percent said “hurt,” 48 percent said “no difference.”

Unsurprisingly, Americans want to avoid war with Iran. The survey found 13 percent prefer military intervention against Iran’s nuclear program; 77 percent prefer a negotiated settlement to reduce its nuclear potential.

Asked whether they support or oppose legislation that would make any Iran agreement subject to congressional approval, 65 percent said they supported the legislation, 24 percent opposed it.

The Predictable Escalating Violence in Baltimore, Maryland

by Jim Geraghty

The Morning Jolt, Friday:

Ferguson, Staten Island . . . Baltimore?

Keep an eye on Baltimore, Md., where we have another case of a black man dying after being in police custody, and a variety of unanswered questions:

Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man injured during an arrest by Baltimore police last week, died Sunday at Shock Trauma, prompting protests by city residents and out-of-town activists and promises from city officials for a thorough investigation.

Gray, 25, died a week after he suffered a broken vertabra after being arrested near Gilmor Homes in Sandtown-Winchester.

Police have not given a cause for Gray’s injuries or specified why he was arrested, citing an investigation into the incident.

Here’s an aspect that’s different from Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.: Maryland has a Republican governor, Larry Hogan, whom local Democrats would love to cast as a villain in any conflicts to come. Hogan is sending in Maryland State Police officers to assist the city police:

There’s raw emotions. People legitimately have concerns, and the community is out in force protesting,” Hogan said. “I want to thank the folks involved in that. So far it has been peaceful. We want to try to keep things under control. The last thing we need is more violence in Baltimore City.”

Hogan said city police will remain on the front lines as the demonstrations, which began Saturday and have been mostly peaceful, continue in city streets. The governor said the city has asked for help, and that he would continue to grant it whenever asked. “We don’t want to interfere,” he said.

Thirty-two troopers with expertise in crowd control arrived in Baltimore early Thursday afternoon, Maryland State Police spokesman Sgt. Marc Black said. The team will be in place for help whenever the Baltimore City Police department asks, he said.

During Ferguson and Staten Island, angry urban progressives kept looking for a Republican villain and failed; Missouri governor Jay Nixon, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, and New York City police commissioner William Bratton are all Democrats.

The news, Saturday night:

At the Gallery at Harborplace around 7 p.m., a window at the Michael Kors store was smashed and shoppers were evacuated. Those running from the mall held coats and scarves over their faces and reported hearing a loud bang as the window was smashed with a trash can.

Leila Rghioui, 20, of Randallstown had stopped by the mall after protesting earlier in the day with her friends.

“All I remember is the security guards started barricading doors and everyone started losing their minds coughing,” said Rghioui, who said she threw up from pepper spray in the air.

Outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, demonstrators clashed with police.

A few protesters jumped on police cars and smashed their windows with trash cans and traffic cones as the group moved north on Howard. They grabbed police caps from the cars and posed atop them to cheering and howls of laughter. The group quickly dispersed, sprinting away as a line of police officers came running down the street.

The crowd gets more violent, which prompts police forces to crack down in a harsher manner. Sooner or later, some other law-enforcement official will be accused of using unnecessary force or excessively violent methods of controlling a rioting crowd. When that happens, you’ll see a lot of Maryland Democrats attempt to dump the blame on Hogan.

Barrasso: ‘Uranium Has Left the United States . . . I Worry About Iran Getting This Uranium.’

The First GOP Contender to Seize the Issue of Hillary’s Foreign Funds . . .

by Jim Geraghty

And the first Republican 2016 contender to grab onto the issue of Hillary’s foreign funds and use it to build up his mailing list is . . . 

This isn’t a criticism; this is how the game is played. So far in this cycle, Cruz is just a bit quicker on the draw than the rest of the field . . . 

How Hillary Let Russia Buy 20 Percent of U.S. Uranium-Production Capacity

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

What Hillary Calls ‘Absurd Conspiracy Theories’ Don’t Seem So Absurd

Heck of a morning for the Clinton Foundation.

Jeff Dunetz, summarizing the New York Times:

The latest revelation comes involves a deal which enabled Russia to own about 20% of the uranium production capacity of the United States for a $2.35 million donation to the Clinton Family Foundation. According to the report a Canadian based company Uranium One, owned the uranium assets was being purchased by Russian state atomic energy agency Rosatom a deal which had to be approved by various U.S. agencies including the State Department. As the State Department was mulling of the deal, the Chairman of Uranium One donated the $2.35 million from his family foundation to the Clintons.

From the Times:

Before Mrs. Clinton could assume her post as secretary of state, the White House demanded that she sign a memorandum of understanding placing limits on her husband’s foundation’s activities. To avoid the perception of conflicts of interest, beyond the ban on foreign government donations, the foundation was required to publicly disclose all contributors.

To judge from those disclosures — which list the contributions in ranges rather than precise amounts — the only Uranium One official to give to the Clinton Foundation was Mr. Telfer, the chairman, and the amount was relatively small: no more than $250,000, and that was in 2007, before talk of a Rosatom deal began percolating.

But a review of tax records in Canada, where Mr. Telfer has a family charity called the Fernwood Foundation, shows that he donated millions of dollars more, during and after the critical time when the foreign investment committee was reviewing his deal with the Russians. With the Russians offering a special dividend, shareholders like Mr. Telfer stood to profit.

Hey, when State Department decisions are for sale, are they cheaper in bulk? Do you get one of those little cards like the ones in the coffee shop, where once you’ve bought eleven, the twelfth one is free?

Here’s Reuters, with a separate scandal for the Clinton Foundation:

Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.

The foundation and its list of donors have been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Republican critics say the foundation makes Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, vulnerable to undue influence. Her campaign team calls these claims “absurd conspiracy theories.”

The charities’ errors generally take the form of under-reporting or over-reporting, by millions of dollars, donations from foreign governments, or in other instances omitting to break out government donations entirely when reporting revenue, the charities confirmed to Reuters.

When you’re refiling your tax returns, that’s a concession that this isn’t all just “absurd conspiracy theories.”

How Should 2016 Republican Candidates Talk About the Iraq War?

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

How Should 2016 Republican Candidates Talk About the Iraq War?

Do you feel differently about the Iraq War now than you did, say, five years ago?

I find myself encountering men with artificial legs or arms with more regularity. I suppose it’s entirely possible their injuries aren’t from military service, or are from Afghanistan.

But the point is there are roughly 32,000 men and women who came back from Iraq injured; 4,487 came back in flag-covered coffins. That is an extremely high price in American blood and far too many empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table. Our men and women fought valiantly and bravely . . . and Iraq, well, Iraq is a mess. It’s not the fault of our troops; they did everything they could. There’s plenty of blame to go around, from the Obama administration’s determination to pull out all combat troops, to Maliki, to the choices of the Iraqi people and the governments of Iraq’s neighbors.

Regardless of how you feel about George W. Bush, the pre-war intelligence, Michael Moore and the anti-war left, or the opportunistic flip-floppers like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, is there anyone who would argue that the price America paid in its battle in Iraq was NOT too high? Does anyone doubt that the electorate largely believes that military intervention in Iraq was an enormous mistake, spending ungodly sums of money and losing far too many fine men and women for a raging land of sectarian ingrates, so eager and willing to fight each other or our people who were trying to help them, but falling apart and running in the face of ISIS? At what point are we allowed to get angry at young men in Iraq, given a chance to live in something better, freer, and more prosperous than the barbaric mad despotism they experienced under Saddam Hussein, who threw it all away to join ISIS?

David Goldman:

Fifty-three percent think Iranian nukes are a “major threat,” and only 37% think they are a “minor threat.” Most Americans, in short, think Iran is a major threat to American security and think that Obama’s nuclear deal is a joke – but they still want Obama in charge of the negotiations, not us.

Maybe NBC made the numbers up. Maybe a proofreader got the numbers reversed. And maybe pigs will sprout wings.

There is a much simpler explanation: Most Americans don’t trust Republicans on matters of war and peace. Not after the nation-building disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, that is. Why should they trust us? Our leadership has never admitted it made a mistake. Sen. Ted Cruz, to be sure, had the gumption last fall to say that “we got too involved in nation-building” and that “we should not be trying to turn Iraq into Switzerland” – and was excoriated for his trouble by the Bushies. The Republican mainstream is too busy trying to defend the Bush record to address the distrust of American voters.

One gets weary and grows shrill sounding the same note for a decade. I wish the problem would go away. A couple of weeks ago a friend who served in senior defense positions in the Bush administration remonstrated, “Why do we have to worry about what mistakes were made back then?” The American public doesn’t remember a lot, but it does remember the disruption of millions of lives after the deployment of 2.6 million Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan–not to mention 6,000 dead, 52,000 wounded in action, and hundreds of thousands of other injuries

Republicans need a clear and simple policy about the use of force: We will use force only when we and our close allies are under threat. We will use the kind of force that least exposes Americans to harm. We will not sacrifice the time, let alone the lives, of American soldiers to fix the problems of other countries.

Ohio governor John Kasich, appearing with Hugh Hewitt yesterday:

Hugh Hewitt: Now let me ask you about Libya. We broke Libya. And yesterday, 900 people died fleeing that country. Did we owe that country more than a wave goodbye after Hillary’s handoff from Qaddafi to the jihadists?

John Kasich: Well, I mean, what you do mean by that? Should we have been there nation building? I mean, should we have landed troops over there? I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, I think that you know, the problem has been that we have not been consistent in the Middle East and assertive. And that’s been a problem for us. And when we went out of Iraq and didn’t keep our base and didn’t mind the store and didn’t arm in the early stages the opposition to Assad, all these things have left us in a position of where see things falling apart. And you know, at this point in time, I can’t tell you what I think we should do in Libya. I wouldn’t tell you that I think we need to be putting troops in Libya. I wouldn’t be for that. But you know, it’s a result of some of the big miscalculations, and frankly, I guess you’ve got to start where you are. But I wouldn’t be telling you we should put troops there.

And later:

Kasich: I don’t think we should run out of Afghanistan. But you know, getting in the middle of civil wars, I don’t think is a good idea.

Hewitt: You’re not saying Iraq when you say the first Gulf War and Afghanistan. Did President Bush make a mistake in invading Iraq?

Kasich: I don’t want to go back and redo that. I mean, it was there, and I don’t want to disparage anybody who served our country. I’m just going to reserve my comment on that.

Hillary: We Must Topple the 1 Percent.

Obama Doesn’t Think Americans Should Know How Close Iran Is to the Bomb

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Obama Administration Understated How Close Iran Is to the Bomb for Years

In the eyes of the Obama administration, the American people are not allowed to know how close Iran is to a nuclear bomb.

The Barack Obama administration has estimated for years that Iran was at most three months away from enriching enough nuclear fuel for an atomic bomb. But the administration only declassified this estimate at the beginning of the month, just in time for the White House to make the case for its Iran deal to Congress and the public.

Speaking to reporters and editors at our Washington bureau on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged that the U.S. has assessed for several years that Iran has been two to three months away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. When asked how long the administration has held this assessment, Moniz said: “Oh quite some time.” He added: “They are now, they are right now spinning, I mean enriching with 9,400 centrifuges out of their roughly 19,000. Plus all the . . . R&D work. If you put that together it’s very, very little time to go forward. That’s the 2–3 months.”

Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, confirmed to me Monday that the two-to-three-month estimate for fissile material was declassified on April 1.

Here is the puzzling thing: When Obama began his second term in 2013, he sang a different tune. He emphasized that Iran was more than a year away from a nuclear bomb, without mentioning that his intelligence community believed it was only two to three months away from making enough fuel for one, long considered the most challenging task in building a weapon. Today Obama emphasizes that Iran is only two to three months away from acquiring enough fuel for a bomb, creating a sense of urgency for his Iran agreement.

Obama, October 2013:

President Barack Obama says U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran is still “a year or more” away from producing a nuclear weapon, an assessment he acknowledged was at odds with Israel.

Obama also put distance between U.S. and Israeli assessments of when Iran might have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. Israeli officials have said Iran is just months away from having the capacity and knowledge to build a bomb, while Obama said Tehran was a year or more away.

Now we know the Israeli assessment was correct, and the U.S. public assessment was disinformation. I suppose the Obama administration could argue that the assessment was classified, and that we didn’t want the Iranians to know how much we knew. But once Israel came out and started revealing the actual status of the nuclear program, what was the advantage to “playing dumb” and pretending we didn’t know how close Tehran was to a bomb? What did we gain by claiming the Israelis were wrong?

“Trust me,” said the liar.

Book Alleges Cash-for-Favors Scheme at Hillary’s State Department

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Book Alleges Cash-for-Favors Scheme at Hillary’s State Department

Wow. Good Monday morning, Hillary:

The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.

In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”

But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.

Cue the cries of a vast conspiracy!

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which includes Mr. Paul and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have been briefed on the book’s findings, and its contents have already made their way into several of the Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns.

I suppose Hillary’s defense will be that every State Department decision that helped her financial supporters was strictly coincidental.

I’m sure her e-mails would prove that she did nothing wrong . . . well, if she hadn’t deleted them all, huh?

Elizabeth Warren, call your office!

Is Chris Christie the Candidate Who Can Win New Hampshire?

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Is Chris Christie the Candidate Who Can Win New Hampshire?

Drew Cline makes the case that Chris Christie is the kind of candidate who could win the New Hampshire primary:

Journalists and professional political consultants parse the details of every policy position, while voters size up candidates in a more personal way. New Hampshire Republicans react well to bold candidates with strong personalities — John McCain, Pat Buchanan, Ronald Reagan — even if they disagree with those candidates on some issues. New Hampshire is almost tailor-made for Christie, who takes big political risks and can work a room like no other 2016 hopeful. That he has to win New Hampshire gives him all the more incentive to give the state the full Christie.

When he stumped for Romney in 2012, the chatter among Republicans was that the surrogate outshone the nominee. That was the case again last year when Christie made four visits on behalf of gubernatorial nominee Walt Havenstein. When Christie is in the room, all eyes turn to him. He is a carousel placed in the center of the banquet hall of a non-descript chain hotel.

As Christie lit up a capacity crowd at a town hall meeting in Londonderry on Wednesday, drawing many rounds of applause, the national political website Political Wire posted a headline calling him a “dead man walking in New Hampshire.” The same was said about John McCain in 2007. He did not lead a single poll from June 5 to Dec. 31, 2007. He beat Romney by 5.5 points. He did it by holding dozens of town hall meetings across the state, talking directly to voters and gaining voters’ trust — which is exactly what Christie intends to do.

You’re familiar with my insider, elitist, RINO, Georgetown-cocktail-party-driven anti-corn, unreasonable, extremist un-American jihad against the Iowa caucuses. Credit the New Hampshire primaries for high turnout, and the winners in the Granite State tend to do better than Iowa’s winners. “In fourteen contested nominations from 1972 to 2004, the eventual nominee won the New Hampshire primary nine times and placed second five times; no candidate placing third or lower ever went on to win the nomination.” In 2008, Hillary won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire but McCain won the GOP primary; in 2012, Romney won New Hampshire.

Having said that, because of the independents voting in the GOP primary, the New Hampshire primary tends to lean more libertarian or economic-issue-oriented. As one consultant once put it to me, the average GOP primary voter in New Hampshire is a big guy in a red plaid shirt with three days’ growth on his face, who works construction or contracting, owns a snowplow business on the side and who wants his taxes and regulatory paperwork low. Oh, and there’s one other extremely high priority for New Hampshire Republicans: Contradict Iowa Republicans. Because if they assent to Iowa’s choice, Iowa becomes more important.

Sure, Christie’s big personality might play well in New Hampshire. But can you scale that up to bigger states as the race go on? What do you do when the states are bigger, and you don’t have the time to reach everybody through town halls?

Hillary’s Not the Candidate of Change… Or Even ‘Keep the Change’

Hillary and the ‘Non-Family Enterprise’ of Education

by Jim Geraghty

Hillary discusses Common Core in Iowa:

Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time, and you see the value of it.  You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system.  And a lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that so they don’t understand the value of a core, in the sense, a common core that then you can figure out the best way to try to reach,” Clinton added…

“But your question is really a larger one.  How did we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation which is how our kids are educated? There are a lot of explanations for that I suppose, but whatever they are we need to try to get back into a broad conversation where people will actually listen to each other again and try to come up with solutions for problems because the problems here in Monticello are not the same problems that you’ll find in the inner city of our biggest, you know, urban areas. That’s a given.”

As Shane Vander Hart notes, Hillary tries to make the argument for Common Core — about unifying the education standards for all children, everywhere, to make them the same – by emphasizing local control and the fact that different schools will have different needs. She’s effectively saying, because everyone’s problems and requirements are different, we need to treat everyone the same.

I’d just note that with defining education as the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation,” she’s speaking as if home-schoolers don’t exist in Hillary’s mind; about 1.5 million American children are currently home-schooled; some research puts the number above 1.7 million. Whether you prefer home-schooling or not, it’s obviously much more popular than it was in the 1990s, and there’s some evidence suggesting that concerns about Common Core are driving some families to try home-schooling

Obviously, for a lot of households, teaching the kids is a family enterprise! But beyond that, how many parents think of their child’s school as  ”non-family enterprise”? Who speaks like that?

Hillary and the ‘Non-Family Enterprise’ of Education

by Jim Geraghty

Hillary discusses Common Core in Iowa:

Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time, and you see the value of it.  You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system.  And a lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that so they don’t understand the value of a core, in the sense, a common core that then you can figure out the best way to try to reach,” Clinton added…

“But your question is really a larger one.  How did we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation which is how our kids are educated? There are a lot of explanations for that I suppose, but whatever they are we need to try to get back into a broad conversation where people will actually listen to each other again and try to come up with solutions for problems because the problems here in Monticello are not the same problems that you’ll find in the inner city of our biggest, you know, urban areas. That’s a given.”

As Shane Vander Hart notes, Hillary tries to make the argument for Common Core — about unifying the education standards for all children, everywhere, to make them the same – by emphasizing local control and the fact that different schools will have different needs. She’s effectively saying, because everyone’s problems and requirements are different, we need to treat everyone the same.

I’d just note that with defining education as the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation,” she’s speaking as if home-schoolers don’t exist in Hillary’s mind; about 1.5 million American children are currently home-schooled; some research puts the number above 1.7 million. Whether you prefer home-schooling or not, it’s obviously much more popular than it was in the 1990s, and there’s some evidence suggesting that concerns about Common Core are driving some families to try home-schooling

Obviously, for a lot of households, teaching the kids is a family enterprise! But beyond that, how many parents think of their child’s school as  ”non-family enterprise”? Who speaks like that?

Hillary’s Campaign Strategy of Avoidance

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

Hillary’s Campaign Strategy of Avoidance

So what’s the strategy behind Hillary’s van, speeding away from reporters? Why is she attempting the world’s first covert campaign by an overwhelming favorite?

Talk about “runaway frontrunner.”

The Des Moines Register puts it, “Hillary Clinton’s van has rolled up to a few Iowa destinations on the down low.”

After about an hour at the Jones St. Java House, Clinton exited the building and went toward a black vehicle, brushing off shouted questions about her candidacy.

“We’ll have lots of time to talk later,” she said.

Clinton then went to LeClaire’s downtown, where she took a walk with Mayor Bob Scannell, greeting onlookers and stopping into one shop.

In her first remarks of the campaign, she addressed the pressing issues of hedge fund managers paying insufficient tax rates and the salaries of CEOS. Clearly, those CEOs don’t earn their pay the way she does with her $300,000 per speech speaking fees or her  $14 million book advance.

(According to salary.com, the median expected annual pay for a typical Chief Executive Officer in the United States is $681,798 so 50 percent of the people who perform the job of Chief Executive Officer in the United Sates are expected to make less than $681,798. For perspective, Bill Clinton made $17 million in public speaking fees in one year and $106 million from 2001 to 2013. The CEO making that median salary would have to work  about 25 years to make what Bill Clinton made in speaking fees in that year; a CEO making that median salary would have to work 155 years to equal Bill Clinton’s speaking fee total over that twelve year period.)

We established in a previous Jolt that what worries us conservatives doesn’t worry progressives, and vice versa: “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.”

Both conservatives and progressives look at America and see problems, but they see completely different problems. They dismiss with a shrug the problems that worry us most.

What’s the Democratic solution to the national debt? It’s not really a problem. What’s the Democratic solution to Putin’s aggression? It’s not really a problem.

What’s the Democratic solution to ISIS? It’s not really a problem, we’re handling it fine through air strikes.

What’s the Democratic solution to illegal immigration and an insecure border? It’s not really a problem, let’s pass an amnesty.

What’s the Democratic solution to children being raised without fathers? To the extent they address this, they insist it reflects low wages and economic factors.

Meanwhile, they turn to us and ask, what’s your plan for dealing with the temperature rising a century from now? Why aren’t you concerned about micro-aggressions? What’s your plan to ensure every woman in America has access to affordable birth control? What are you going to do to stop people from being able to buy guns?

Sometimes Democrats get really creative in finding new problems. Not so long ago, Hillary Clinton lamented the “fun deficit” in America and suggested the solution was sending adults to camps.

If Hillary sits down and does tough interviews – well, you’ll probably see something like the press conference about he private e-mail server. So the Hillary camp is going to keep her in front of small groups, handing softball questions.

We can expect Team Hillary to make a huge deal out of any perceived insult, something that they can claim represents sexism, woman-hating or that tired perennial, “the war on women.”

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. 
 

Hillary’s Campaign Strategy of Avoidance

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

Hillary’s Campaign Strategy of Avoidance

So what’s the strategy behind Hillary’s van, speeding away from reporters? Why is she attempting the world’s first covert campaign by an overwhelming favorite?

Talk about “runaway frontrunner.”

The Des Moines Register puts it, “Hillary Clinton’s van has rolled up to a few Iowa destinations on the down low.”

After about an hour at the Jones St. Java House, Clinton exited the building and went toward a black vehicle, brushing off shouted questions about her candidacy.

“We’ll have lots of time to talk later,” she said.

Clinton then went to LeClaire’s downtown, where she took a walk with Mayor Bob Scannell, greeting onlookers and stopping into one shop.

In her first remarks of the campaign, she addressed the pressing issues of hedge fund managers paying insufficient tax rates and the salaries of CEOS. Clearly, those CEOs don’t earn their pay the way she does with her $300,000 per speech speaking fees or her  $14 million book advance.

(According to salary.com, the median expected annual pay for a typical Chief Executive Officer in the United States is $681,798 so 50 percent of the people who perform the job of Chief Executive Officer in the United Sates are expected to make less than $681,798. For perspective, Bill Clinton made $17 million in public speaking fees in one year and $106 million from 2001 to 2013. The CEO making that median salary would have to work  about 25 years to make what Bill Clinton made in speaking fees in that year; a CEO making that median salary would have to work 155 years to equal Bill Clinton’s speaking fee total over that twelve year period.)

We established in a previous Jolt that what worries us conservatives doesn’t worry progressives, and vice versa: “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.”

Both conservatives and progressives look at America and see problems, but they see completely different problems. They dismiss with a shrug the problems that worry us most.

What’s the Democratic solution to the national debt? It’s not really a problem. What’s the Democratic solution to Putin’s aggression? It’s not really a problem.

What’s the Democratic solution to ISIS? It’s not really a problem, we’re handling it fine through air strikes.

What’s the Democratic solution to illegal immigration and an insecure border? It’s not really a problem, let’s pass an amnesty.

What’s the Democratic solution to children being raised without fathers? To the extent they address this, they insist it reflects low wages and economic factors.

Meanwhile, they turn to us and ask, what’s your plan for dealing with the temperature rising a century from now? Why aren’t you concerned about micro-aggressions? What’s your plan to ensure every woman in America has access to affordable birth control? What are you going to do to stop people from being able to buy guns?

Sometimes Democrats get really creative in finding new problems. Not so long ago, Hillary Clinton lamented the “fun deficit” in America and suggested the solution was sending adults to camps.

If Hillary sits down and does tough interviews – well, you’ll probably see something like the press conference about he private e-mail server. So the Hillary camp is going to keep her in front of small groups, handing softball questions.

We can expect Team Hillary to make a huge deal out of any perceived insult, something that they can claim represents sexism, woman-hating or that tired perennial, “the war on women.”

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. 
 

The Times Rubio’s Political Career Nearly Ended Before It Started

by Jim Geraghty

From today’s Morning Jolt:

Stephen Miller with a pretty good observation: “His other strength is none of the potential GOP candidates have had the practice to run against someone like Clinton. Marco Rubio has, having dispensed limousine loving, ventriloquist dummy Charlie Christ to the political ash heap. Christ and Clinton are cut from the exact same elitist cloth, believing themselves entitled and destined, the voters be damned. Both of them have gotten creamed in elections staking out that position by someone an electorate found more charismatic and in tune with every day values.”

You can argue that Scott Walker ran against and beat a larger collective opponent in his recall election and, perhaps, his 2014 reelection bid. Ted Cruz might argue he was as big a long-shot when he began against David Dewhurst in the Texas Senate primary. Bobby Jindal’s early 20-point lead helped drive Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to not seek reelection, but she was seriously damaged goods after her bumbling response to Hurricane Katrina. And the one other caveat is that Rubio beat Crist in a three-way race in 2010. Having said that, you could argue Rubio beat Crist twice, once by driving him to quit the GOP primary and declare himself an independent, then again on Election Day.

Over on NRO’s home page, I take a look at Marco Rubio’s two years spent as Speaker of the Florida House – his management and leadership style, what he accomplished and what he left unfinished, and how he dealt with a thoroughly uncooperative Florida Senate and the shamelessly demagogic, opportunistic Crist.

As Speaker and in earlier leadership positions in the Florida House, Rubio demonstrated a willingness to delegate to focus on his strengths, communicating and negotiating. The record suggests that a President Rubio would drive a hard bargain, and hold out until the eleventh hour, but rarely walk away from the table without a deal.

The Speaker of the Florida House is an important and powerful position, but one perhaps a bit easier to reach than comparable positions in other states. Representatives in Florida are limited to four two-year terms. The Speaker of the House is elected by his fellow representatives for a two-year term, and is usually in his final term – meaning the Florida House is effectively led by a new speaker every two years.

Because of the term limits and constant turnover at the top, careers in the Florida state legislature accelerate quickly. The legislature works a brief, fast-paced schedule, a 60-day session starting in March, supplemented by occasional special sessions. The legislature is the GOP’s ballgame; Republicans have controlled the Florida House and Senate since 1996. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t often deep divisions; Rubio’s tenure as speaker exacerbated friction with the man who would later become his defeated Senate rival, then-governor Charlie Crist.
 

This is part of my new year’s resolution to attempt some actually useful campaign journalism, by digging into chapters of the GOP contenders’ lives that haven’t been covered extensively yet. The first offering was looking at Ted Cruz’s work for the Federal Trade Commission from 2001 to 2003, where he earned a reputation as a passionate boss intent on tracking the success of the office’s efforts in granular detail.

I had some material that didn’t quite fit in the Rubio piece. If you’re not a fan of Rubio, curse the heavens, because his political career came close to ending quite early.

For starters, he nearly lost his first Florida House election, coming in second in the first round and winning the runoff by 64 votes.

In his early years in the state legislature, he was skyrocketing in stature – he was named Majority Whip within his first nine months on the job – but going through extreme financial difficulties.

He was making $72,000 as an often-unavailable land use and zoning attorney at the now-defunct law firm Ruden McClosky and made $28,608 as a state legislator. Money was so tight for the young lawmaker and his wife and then-one child that he sold his car and moved in with his mother-in-law. In his autobiography, An American Son, Rubio writes he strongly contemplated leaving politics to focus on earning enough money to support his growing family.

A new job offer came along before Rubio finalized his decision to quit politics; in 2001, Rubio moved to Becker & Poliakoff to expand the firm’s practice in Miami-Dade, making $93,000 per year. By 2004, when Rubio was the Speaker-in-waiting, the law firm Broad and Cassel hired him at $300,000 per year.  

Rubio, Today: ‘We Must Change the Decisions We Are Making by Changing the People Who Are Making Them.’

by Jim Geraghty

A preview of Marco Rubio’s presidential announcement in Miami today, as prepared for delivery:

“For almost all of human history, power and wealth belonged only to a select few. Most people who have ever lived were trapped by the circumstances of their birth, destined to live the life their parents had. But America is different. Here, we are the children and grandchildren of people who refused to accept this.”

“My parents achieved what came to be known as the American Dream. But now, too many Americans are starting to doubt whether achieving that dream is still possible: Hard working families living paycheck to paycheck, one unexpected expense away from disaster. Young Americans, unable to start a career, a business or a family, because they owe thousands in student loans for degrees that did not lead to jobs. And small business owners, left to struggle under the weight of more taxes, more regulations and more government. Why is this happening in a country that for over two centuries has been defined by equality of opportunity?  Because while our people and economy are pushing the boundaries of the 21st century, too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the twentieth century.”

“At the turn of the 19th century, a generation of Americans harnessed the power of the Industrial Age and transformed this country into the leading economy in the world. And the 20th century became the American Century. Now, the time has come for our generation to lead the way toward a new American Century.”  

“This election is not just about what laws we will pass. It is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be.”

“Yesterday is over, and we are never going back. We Americans are proud of our history, but our country has always been about the future. Before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America. We can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past. We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them.”

“In many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and powerful. But I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.”

 

Hillary’s Debut Was Terrible… But It Doesn’t Matter.

Wayne LaPierre Concedes the Obvious: The NRA Convention Is Now a GOP Presidential Campaign Stop

by Jim Geraghty

The National Rifle Association and its leaders have long insisted the organization is nonpartisan, and pointed to their past endorsements and work with pro-gun Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and, for a time, Sen Harry Reid of Nevada. 

Today, the NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, in the opening remarks at this year’s NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, effectively admitted that the convention, which features all of the big-name Republicans considering a presidential bid in 2016 except Chris Christie and Rand Paul, is now a key step for the GOP contenders.

“As the Republican Party has begun a long and arduous effort to select its nominee, it’s important that all of you are here today, participating in that effort,” LaPierre said.

“The GOP process is going to be competitive and difficult for the contenders,” LaPierre said. “From a coronation, you don’t get the best for America, or even the best for the Democratic party. What you get is Hillary Rodham Clinton.” He chucked in response to the boos and continued, “We’re on to her. She’s been coming after us for decades, degrading law abiding gun owners all over this country. Hillary Clinton hasn’t met a gun control bill she couldn’t support.”

LaPierre’s subsequent remarks hit Hillary Clinton on a long litany of past lies and scandals, ranging from the White House Travel Office, the Lewinsky scandal, the Lincoln bedroom, Whitewater, her claim of dodging sniper fire in the Balkans, to the most current scandal involving her personal e-mail server and fears it was insecure from hackers and foreign intelligence.

“Erase a tape, delete all the e-mails… Is the best we can do a secretary of state, when testifying before Congress about the tragic death of four Americans in Benghazi, waving her arms in the air and crying, ‘What difference does it make?’”

Why Rand Paul Won’t Be at the NRA Convention This Year, Or Anytime Soon