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Ed Gillespie Steps Up



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A lot of conservatives have been complaining that Republican candidates this year are not telling voters how exactly they intend to scale back big government. They are running as opponents of Obamacare, but they are not explaining how they would repeal, replace, or reform it. One exception to that rule is Ben Sasse, who is running for an open Senate seat in Nebraska. Today, Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia (and a longtime friend of NR), became another. He outlined how he would replace Obamacare with something better.

“In order to repeal Obamacare,” he argues, “we must present an alternative that is both practically effective and politically viable. Repeal efforts in the absence of an alternative plan have repeatedly fallen short. Unlike some other alternative proposals, my plan is an attractive alternative to Obamacare that can actually achieve what millions across America who have been adversely affected by this monstrosity of a law desire: its full repeal.”

The plan is explicitly modeled on that of the 2017 Project. Its proposal has been estimated to yield more Americans with private health coverage, lower premiums, more access to doctors, and lower deficits than Obamacare. It would not cover as many people as Obamacare would in total — it is estimated to fall 6 million people short — but the plan could easily be modified to make up that gap without threatening any of its selling points.

The centerpiece of the plan is a tax credit that people who do not have access to coverage from a large employer could use to purchase insurance for themselves on the individual market. That market would be liberated from state-by-state restrictions on what kinds of policies individuals can buy. People with preexisting conditions would be enabled to maintain continuous insurance coverage and protected if they did so. Medicaid recipients would be enabled to buy into the same private market as everyone else rather than being kept in substandard insurance. The individual mandate, the exchanges, IPAB, the medical-device tax, and all the other features of Obamacare that have inspired conservative opposition would go.

Gillespie is running on the best health-care plan of any Republican candidate this year. If enacted it would result in a much better-functioning market than we have today or than we had before Obamacare: a market in which taxes and regulations did much less to distort health care. And taxpayers would save, he estimates, about $1 trillion over ten years. It’s a solid plan that reflects well on the candidate — and ought to inspire other candidates too.

A Double-Fault for Larry Pressler



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John Fund reports that the brief surge of former Republican U.S. senator Larry Pressler, running as an independent in his Senate comeback attempt in South Dakota, might soon fade, as Pressler’s strange and significant shift to the political left becomes more widely known. Good. The man has always been an oddball. In 1980, with just five years in Congress under his belt — rather undistinguished years, at that — Pressler briefly ran for the Republican nomination for president against a field of far better qualified heavyweights including Phil Crane, Bob Dole, Howard Baker, John Connally, George H. W. Bush, and some guy named Reagan. His presidential fling demonstrated ambition shorn of all practicality.

But that wasn’t the strangest move Pressler made, even as a young senator. Pressler was one of the many politicos who fell under the considerable spell of Kathy Kemper, then Georgetown University’s women’s tennis coach. That’s understandable: As a GU student, I was enthralled with her, too. She was remarkably glamorous, and her teams won a lot more matches than anybody had expected, and her players seemed to revere her. (She also was controversial, for a number of reasons, but that’s another story.) But what was strange was the degree of what appeared, at the very least, to be a crush that Pressler had on Kemper. On at least one occasion, it took him away from his work in the Senate (not that he had a reputation for particularly hard work, mind you).

I’ll never forget it. It was 1983 or ’84; I was writing sports (and news, and opinion, and features) for the HOYA, the main campus paper, and I was down near the McDonough Gymnasium, working on a couple of stories at once, including a check-in on a women’s tennis match then occurring on the hot, hard courts. As I remember it, it was a Wednesday afternoon, about 3 o’clock, on a bright, sunny, warm day. There were no bleachers at the courts; to watch, you had to peer through a fence and a screen hanging thereon. It was not a set-up conducive for cheering. And there, peering through the fence and screen, fingers clasped around some of the links, occasionally emitting an occasional exhortation of “Good shot!,” was Senator Pressler. Now this was odd. Wednesday afternoons are traditionally among the very busiest times each week for Senate work. The Senate was then in session. (I remember checking on this.) There may even have been votes. And here was Larry Pressler, in his business suit, across town at Georgetown’s campus, rooting for the college girls. I recognized him and spoke to him, and he was as friendly as could be. But he never offered an explanation — and I didn’t ask — for why he was cheering on some Georgetown girls when the Senate was at work. But when Kemper — who was pacing back and forth along the fence line from court to court, trying to keep up with all the matches at once — stopped and talked to the two of us, giving us an update on the scores, Pressler seemed enraptured with her. It was just, well, odd.

It all could have been an innocent friendship. Pressler did, after all, take tennis lessons from Kemper. That wasn’t what interested me. What bothered me was that Pressler was there, at that time, as the Senate was conducting business. I had interned on the Hill. I knew Congress’s basic schedule. I thought it was great that the Georgetown women’s tennis team was supported by numerous people who were rich, famous, and powerful; I certainly thought that was something beneficial that Kemper brought to a sport that otherwise struggles for attention on college campuses. But there’s a time and place for such support, and I wanted every possible conservative (as Pressler then was, before he migrated left) up there on the Hill, fighting for President Reagan’s agenda, at least during business hours. 

Anyway, ’nuff said. It was one incident, not to be overblown. But it was the sort of thing that makes an impression on a college kid. The impression it made was that Senator Pressler wasn’t a serious man, or at least that he was a man easily distracted. Now, as John Fund has reported, he has been distracted from conservative principle, with a six-year record of being an open Obamite. Indeed, he endorsed Obama both times Obama ran for president. That’s quite a double-fault.

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Globalist Gibberish from CDC Chief on Travel Ban



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Centers for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden took to the Fox News website to explain “Why I don’t support a travel ban to combat Ebola outbreak.” Unfortunately, he offers no real reasons:

That response is understandable. It’s only human to want to protect ourselves and our families. We want to defend ourselves, so isn’t the fastest, easiest solution to put up a wall around the problem?

But, as has been said, for every complex problem, there’s a solution that’s quick, simple, and wrong.

Note that the emphasis is in the original — both bold and italic. It must be really, really wrong.

It’s simply not feasible to build a wall – virtual or real – around a community, city, or country. A travel ban would essentially quarantine the more than 22 million people that make up the combined populations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

First of all, it is indeed possible; it seems that American Samoa completely avoided the 1918 flu epidemic that killed millions, including up to one-fourth of the population in neighboring Western Samoa, by quarantining itself. And if the CDC director is against quarantine, then we shouldn’t be quarantining Thomas Eric Duncan’s family members either, right?

When a wildfire breaks out we don’t fence it off. We go in to extinguish it before one of the random sparks sets off another outbreak somewhere else.

Actually, we do both; we “fence off” forest fires with firebreaks.

We don’t want to isolate parts of the world, or people who aren’t sick, because that’s going to drive patients with Ebola underground, making it infinitely more difficult to address the outbreak.

What does this even mean? People who can’t fly here from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea will “go underground” where?

It could even cause these countries to stop working with the international community as they refuse to report cases because they fear the consequences of a border closing.

Really? Liberia’s going to say to the WHO, the CDC, the U.S. Army, and everyone else trying to help them avoid mass death that “If you won’t let Liberians who are infected but not symptomatic fly to your country and possibly infect your people, then we don’t want your help!” Sure.

Stopping planes from flying from West Africa would severely limit the ability of Americans to return to the United States or of people with dual citizenship to get home, wherever that may be.

A travel ban would apply to foreigners; U.S. citizens may return to their country whenever they want. In such cases, though, quarantine would seem to be required. Unless, you know, the CDC director is against that, too.

In addition to not stopping the spread of Ebola, isolating countries will make it harder to respond to Ebola, creating an even greater humanitarian and health care emergency.

This is simply offered as an assertion.

Importantly, isolating countries won’t keep Ebola contained and away from American shores.  Paradoxically, it will increase the risk that Ebola will spread in those countries and to other countries, and that we will have more patients who develop Ebola in the U.S.

Again, no evidence offered, just feelings. How would a travel ban “increase the risk that Ebola will spread” in Liberia? The only way that sentence makes sense is that if Liberians infected with Ebola are made to stay in their own country, they’ll infect more people there, whereas if they’re allowed to travel to the U.S., they’ll infect people here instead. Yay!

Keep reading this post . . .

Web Briefing: October 21, 2014

Minn. GOP Senate Candidate Shells Out to Re-Air Debate against Franken



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Republican challenger Mike McFadden thinks his debate with Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.) last week went so well that he is paying to re-air it across the state this weekend.

Earlier this month, Franken and McFadden squared off for the first time in Duluth in a debate that was only aired locally. McFadden will now shell out $5,000 to show the debate against the freshman incumbent on a station with a wider reach. On Saturday afternoon, the debate will air on WFTC, which is based in the Twin Cities but has partner stations throughout Minnesota.

Over the summer, McFadden aired a series of ads hitting Franken for not agreeing to debate the Republican candidate. The incumbent eventually agreed to three debates, and the two will meet twice more in the final weeks of the campaign. In a trailer for this weekend’s re-airing of the debates, McFadden says, “No wonder Al Franken was scared to debate” as he shows Franken stumbling on his answers.

Polls continue to show Franken with a comfortable lead in the race, and the seat is largely expected to stay in Democratic hands, but McFadden hopes moves like this will help close the gap.

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Connecticut’s Governor: NR a ‘Right-Wing Tea-Bag Organization’



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Last night at the Connecticut gubernatorial debate between Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley, the always classy incumbent, fighting for his political life and irked by the Foley campaign’s brandishing of Matt Purple’s “America’s Worst Governor” NRO article, dismissed NR as a “right-wing tea-bag organization.”

Nice. And of no surprise. If the people of Connecticut want to know why their state consistently ranks 50th, or thereabouts, in various economic, fiscal, taxpayer-burden, and job-growth and -creation studies, or in surveys of folks who express a deep desire to pull up their roots and vamoose out of Dodge (or Hartford and New Haven in this case) for sunnier climes where there are jobs to be had and less taxes to pay (Nutmeggers are the last to celebrate Tax Freedom Day, this year on May 9!), it can be found in this smug professional politician whose priority is wetting the beaks of liberal special interests at the expense of middle-class residents, small businesses, and the state’s on-the-ropes economy.

Two tea notes. The first is that our founder uttered the phrase that is at the core of Tea Party sentiment: “I’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard.” Or, he would surely add in this case, than by Dan Malloy and the Democrat Cosa Nostra who run the state house in Hartford.

The second, about tea bags, a favorite leftist hardy-har-har term for disparaging the Tea Party: Of the few companies left in Connecticut, one that’s cheery and successful is Bigelow Tea. Congratulations Governor Malloy: At a public event, one in which citizens expect a modicum of class from its participants, you denigrate one of the state’s heralded products, associating it with . . . a scrotum. Take a bow. Way to go with the economic development boostering!

But let’s close on a positive note and commend the governor for an incredible achievement: He actually makes Lowell Weicker look good.​

Ebola Victim’s Family: ‘Suspicious’ That All White Patients Survived, But Not One Black Patient



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A statement released by the family of the first person to be diagnosed and die of the Ebola virus in the United States called it “suspicious” that all white patients treated in America survived the illness while the one black patient died.

Josephus Weeks, nephew of the deceased Thomas Eric Duncan, made the racially charged accusation on Thursday while acting as spokesman for Duncan’s broader family.

“Eric Duncan was treated unfairly,” the statement read. “Eric walked into the hospital, the other patients were carried in after an 18 hour flight. It is suspicious to us that all the white patients survived and this one black patient passed away.”

“It took eight days to get him medicine,” Weeks continued. “He didn’t begin treatment in Africa, he began treatment here, but he wasn’t given a chance.”

Duncan contracted the illness in his native Liberia, then flew to Dallas and began exhibiting symptoms several days later. He was initially given antibiotics and sent home from the hospital, despite, according to his relatives, informing medical professionals of his travel history. He was diagnosed with Ebola and quarantined after his condition worsened. Unlike other patients, he was not given experimental antiviral drugs until one day before his death, which doctors say was when the drugs became available.

Austrian Teenagers Who Joined ISIS Now Regret the Move



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Today in predictable news:

The teenage girls who abandoned their families in Austria to become jihadis for ISIS feel they’ve made a terrible mistake by joining the barbaric lifestyle and they want to come home.

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, are believed to be married, pregnant and living in the Islamic State-controlled city of Raqqa in northern Syria, Central European News reports.

Evidently, the move didn’t work out as the pair had hoped:

The change of heart is a much different tune than the note they left behind for their parents when they fled back in April, which read: “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah — and we will die for him.”

Kesinovic and Selimovic grew up in Vienna, where they became accustomed to talking to whomever they wanted, saying whatever they pleased and wearing whatever clothes they liked. They did not have to live a life being controlled by people telling them what they can and cannot do.

I can’t quite blame the girls here. If they were 30, this would be a different story: In that case, they should be expected to deal with the consequences of their actions. But they’re not. They’re teenagers — too young to drink, to buy cigarettes, to own property, to join the military, and to vote. We have an age of majority for a good reason.

As I have noted before, totalitarianism is sadly attractive to the bored and the disaffected, and, as anybody who has either been a teenager or spent time around one knows, there are few people more bored and disaffected than they. At its root, this story is merely an extremely dramatic version of the age-old running-away-from-home-to-be-with-my-older-boyfriend tale. Except, that is, that the boyfriend doesn’t just have a motorcycle and an attitude, he has a rocket launcher and a death wish.

Sadly, it seems possible that the girls will not be able to return. Per the New York Post:

“The main problem is about people coming back to Austria,” said Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck. “Once they leave, it is almost impossible.”

This is tricky, certainly. Still, I was a little irritated by the implication in a preceding line:

Now Austrian media are reporting that Kesinovic and Selimovic have said enough is enough and want to return to their families, according to CEN.

They have contacted their loved ones and told them they are sick of living with the Islamic State jihadis, but they also said they don’t feel they can flee from their unwanted new life because too many people now associate them with ISIS.

Austria has its problems. But the challenge the girls face is not so much that their fellow countrymen will judge them harshly if they return as that they have both thrown in their lots with a cabal of psychotic killers who would happily execute them in broad daylight if they so much as inquired as to how they could get out of Raqqah. I daresay that, if they were to get back to Vienna, they’d get some odd looks on the street. Fair enough. But, however judgmental their fellow countrymen might be, they would be unlikely to execute them for apostasy. Really, anybody who is laboring under the impression that the biggest potential drawback to shacking up with ISIS is that they might lose their golf club membership if it doesn’t work out doesn’t grasp who they are dealing with here. Which, of course, is precisely how the pair got themselves into this situation in the first instance.

Senate-Race Scare for GOP in South Dakota Fades



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National Democrats just invested $1 million to support Rick Weiland, their candidate in South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race. Everyone is buzzing about a Survey USA poll showing former GOP governor Mike Rounds suddenly holding a narrow lead in a three-way race. The Survey USA poll has Rounds at 35 percent, former senator Larry Pressler at 32 percent as an independent candidate, and Weiland at 27 percent. Even though Republicans say their internal polls still have their candidate with a double-digit lead, there is no doubt Pressler’s presence has made them nervous.

But the maverick former Senator, who served from 1979 to 1997, just handed Republicans a gift. Pressler has represented a major headache for them because older voters fondly remember him serving in the Senate as a Republican casting mostly conservative votes. But in an interview with Washington’s Hill newspaper yesterday, Pressler made clear that his views have shifted to the left.

While he didn’t say which party caucus he would join in the Senate, he did say he’d be a “friend of Obama,” and repeated his earlier statement that he had voted for him in both his presidential runs. Pressler is also proud of his support for Obamacare, calling it a law South Dakota “needs.” As for budgetary issues, he indicated support for raising taxes on the “wealthy”: “We’re a big, rich country and we don’t need to gouge Social Security, we don’t need to gouge education, we don’t need to close the EPA. We have to meet our responsibilities here at home.”

You can just see the Republican attack ads being lined up for takeoff. Obamacare is unpopular in South Dakota and Obama has less than 35 percent of state residents considering themselves as “approving” of him, much less being his friend. Without much money of his own to defend himself, you can bet much of Pressler’s current Republican support will melt away and most of it is unlikely to transfer to Democrat Weiland.

Senate Dem Hammered for Attending Fundraiser Instead of ISIS Hearing



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Senator Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) admitted after a debate earlier this week that she attended a fundraiser rather than a classified hearing on the threat of ISIS, giving rise to a new Republican attack ad and an early barrage from Thom Tillis during their final debate.

“Senator Hagan put a cocktail fundraiser on Park Avenue ahead of a classified briefing where these threats were being discussed,” Tillis said in response to the first question of the debate Thursday night. “We can talk about missing a meeting or two; that happens, because you have scheduling conflicts. But what on earth could be more important than understanding the threat to our men and women in uniform and the threat that ISIS poses in the middle east and to world safety and security? Apparently, Senator Hagan thinks that a cocktail fundraiser hosted on Park Avenue by a Wall Street executive is a better priority than doing her job in Washington.”

Hagan countered that by emphasizing that she has “chaired numerous counterterrorism hearings” and explaining how she thinks the United States should respond to ISIS.

“I am well informed on these issues, but I think Speaker Tillis has been spineless, because he will not say what he would do,” she said. “He is not saying whether he would arm and train the rebels or whether he would put boots on the ground. I am decisive.”

“‘Spineless’ – let’s talk shameless,” Tillis responded later in the debate. “Sen. Hagan is asking the speaker of the House to come up with a strategy before she does.”

Hagan admitted that she had attended the fundraiser during a post-debate press conference earlier this week. She skipped the post-debate press conference last night.

Friday links



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Video: If Shakespearean Insults Were Used Today, they’d fit surprisingly well into your daily office routine.

The Mystery of Extraordinarily Accurate Medieval Maps.

October 10th, 732 - The Battle OF Tours (and how it shaped history).

If Buying Condoms Were Like Buying Birth Control​.

Amazing Flowers That Look Like Other Things.

One Human Year Does Not Equal Seven Dog Years.

Not a SyFy movie: Fanged cannibal spiders with ‘bee-sting’ bite invade British street.

ICYMITuesday’s links are here, and include a baby owl attacking the Go-Pro in its nest, how to dye your armpit hair blue, gorgeous before-and-after summer-to-autumn photos, the history of tattoos, and the families who have owned most of England for the last 1,000 years.

Large Earthquake in U.K.—Not Many Conventional Pieties Left Standing



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Last night UKIP was expected to win the Clacton by-election easily and to lose the “safe” Labour seat in the Heywood and Middleton by-election by a substantial margin. Well, at 1:36 a.m. local time, UKIP lost Heywood and Middleton by a whisker — 617 votes — and reduced the Labour majority by about 90 percent. I could list a slew of other statistics — UKIP’s total, for instance, was about twice the total of Tory, Lib-Dem, and Green votes added together — but you can take it from me that they all favor UKIP and are an embarrassment to the main parties.

Labour is stricken mainly because it is suddenly threatened in its northern stronghold by the insurgent party it has dismissed until now as a bunch of Tory refugees from Cameronism. It’s a terrible result for Labour leader Ed Miliband who is almost a caricature of the metropolitan liberal Left that has lost touch or even sympathy with the traditional working class Labour constituency. Miliband must now face the possibility of a challenge to his leadership even though the next general election is only eight months away. 

But the Heywood and Middleton result was almost as bad for Tory leader David Cameron. The boast of UKIP’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall that UKIP was now “the official opposition to Labour in the North” rang true — and it’s a more formidable opposition than the Tories who are close to vanishing in such seats. That allowed UKIP to turn the main Tory attack on the new party — namely, that a vote for UKIP would help Miliband into Downing Street — against its inventors.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage developed this argument after the Heywood result:

“The truth of what has happened in the North today is that if you are anywhere north of Birmingham, if you vote Conservative you get Labour. And the reason we haven’t won up there, despite a fantastic campaign, is that too many people have stuck with the Conservatives, not recognizing that UKIP is now the challenger to Labour in every urban seat in the north of England.”

That’s an exaggeration, of course; the Tories still hold a lot of Northern constituencies. But it’s an exaggeration of a truth, and less and less of an exaggeration with every new by-election.

That was the picture even before the Clacton result — which was expected to show a large UKIP victory, a collapse in the Tory vote, and the rest nowhere in a southern constituency with its own brand of economic distress. And Clacton’s result is now in — UKIP has won the seat with a majority of more than 12,000 and 60 percent of the votes cast.

What’s happening is a Revolt of the Neglected. The metropolitan establishment has no idea of how to deal with it. And it’s gathering steam.

UKIP’s Good Night



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John O’Sullivan will have more to say here later on UKIP’s very good night. Tory defector Douglas Carswell’s triumph in the special election in Clacton was both expected and remarkable (it would have been close to unimaginable a year ago), but the fact that UKIP also came within a few hundred seats of taking a supposedly safe Labour seat (Heywood and Middleton) is not only a huge embarrassment to the Labour Party, but another blow to the Tories. How so? Well, one of the most powerful arguments against UKIP on the right has been that voting UKIP will let Labour in at the next election (due in May). There’s lot to that, but UKIP’s increasing success in attracting support from those who used to vote Labour (or who haven’t voted for years) gives Farage a useful tool for pushing back against it.

That said, the way that Britain’s electoral arithmetic works, the biggest danger that UKIP will pose in May continues to be to the Conservatives. ‘Red Ed’ Milliband still looks to be the most likely next occupant of Number 10.

Over at the Daily Telegraph, Tim Stanley wades in:

The significance of the results is that it suggests that its European elections vote – though nationally small when non-voting is factored in – is holding up in parliamentary elections. Beneath the radar, we are starting to witness a mini-realignment among the disaffected. Rather than swinging from one centrist party to another, as used to happen, they are coalescing around a populist revolt that is hard politically to define.

Consider who Ukip just elected to Parliament: a libertarian who urged his party to embrace immigrants in his intellectual acceptance speech. How will Carswell’s politics sit with a party that has, in recent years, evolved from a simple anti-EU Thatcherite philosophy to something that urges control of migration and protection of the NHS from private finance? For the short-term, there probably won’t be a problem. Ukip will be focused on winning seats in 2015 rather than on internal debates about policy. But in the longer term, there may be some disagreement for the other parties to exploit. It was notable on Thursday night’s Question Time that Eric Pickles went hard after Patrick O’Flynn on u-turns over taxation and health policy. For Ukip’s enemies, those stumbles are hopeful signs of internal disharmony.

But one thing can keep the Ukip coalition bound together: the culture war. It’s hard to put one’s finger on, but there’s a growing divide in this country between the London metropole and everywhere else – a divide reflected in the Scottish nationalist rebellion as well as the purple tide. It’s not really a matter of substantive policy but of style and tone. Ukip represents those who look at the three main parties – parties of wealth, social liberalism, multiculturalism, suits and ties and faint disdain for anything old and traditional – and sees a species apart. By contrast, Ukip’s various faux-pas and the slight barminess of its candidates are indicators of originality and honesty. These aren’t people who one suspects are silently judging the interior of the houses of the voters they canvass on the doorstep.

Let’s Take a Walk



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The opening paragraphs of a recent New York Times article have become almost infamous:

President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.

Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy.

In September 2009, I wrote a piece called “All Wee-Weed Up: Protests on the right, hypocrisy on the left.” (President Obama had used the expression “all wee-weed up,” and it was in the air.) People on the left were saying that they had never seen or heard anything like the hatred being expressed toward Obama — and this, mind you, was less than a year after George W. Bush had departed the White House. I can’t find that article on the Internet to link to. But I have it elsewhere. And I thought I would cull a few items from it, just to take you back down Memory Lane …

(Nixon used to say, “Let’s flick the scab off that wound.”)

Even before Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started. When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host, showed him on the screen with the words “SNIPERS WANTED.”

Six years later, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, “You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.” (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, “Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.”

This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, “Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they’re to shoot Quayle.” Ha ha ha! Kill Quayle!

In 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Senator Charles Schumer, would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.”

A columnist in Britain’s Guardian, Charlie Brooker, wrote, “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?”

Betty Williams, the Northern Irishwoman who won the Nobel Peace Prize, said, “I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence,’ because I don’t believe that I am non-violent. … Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.”

A novelist, Nicholson Baker, was so filled with rage at Bush, he wrote a novel mulling the question of assassinating him.

In Britain, there was a TV movie — a “fictional documentary” — that was a kind of fantasy: on the assassination of Bush. (It was called “Death of a President.”)

In my 2009 piece, I wrote, “The anonymous photographer-blogger who maintains zombietime.com has done something remarkable: assembled a large collection of photos from anti-Bush and anti-Republican rallies — including Obama rallies. This makes for sickening viewing: all the signs calling for Bush’s death, all the severed Bush heads, the burning effigies, and so on. There is a delightful bumper sticker saying ‘SUPPORT BUSH’ and showing a noose.”

Etc., etc. Anyway, I thought some people might find this little walk down Memory Lane useful, in light of the sneering and insulting paragraphs in the New York Times.

No Rest for the Weary



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I’d like to publish a letter that may amuse you — though it has a serious aspect. First, the context. In my Impromptus yesterday, I said that, over the weekend, I had seen Mozart Street in Chicago. I was pleased to see a Mozart Street. I don’t think I had ever seen one, except maybe in Austria.

I also sounded an old horn — an old theme of mine, namely America the Nonsensical and Inhospitable. I had some new gripes, but I quoted from an Impromptus of June 2007 — which had some travel notes:

Chicago, Ill.: I’m in the lobby of the Sears Tower, waiting for a friend. I have been standing for a while, and wish to sit down — but there are no chairs or benches, this being America, the most inhospitable place in the world (sometimes). So, I sit on my suitcase — which, by the way, has been run through a security machine. And a guard comes up to say, “You can’t sit down.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s on my own suitcase — I just can’t sit down. Presumably, I could stand all day — but I can’t sit down. This being America — or at least the Sears Tower.

Ladies and gentlemen, sometimes America is utterly nonsensical, and maddening. You know that I’m a dedicated anti-anti-American. But there are societies that, in a situation like mine, would find you a drink, maybe some cookies.

Okay, that was a long wind-up. Now I want to give you the letter — a short one. A reader writes,

I grew up on Mozart in Chicago. And I worked a summer in the Sears Tower as a janitor. Part of it on the public floors. I had the same problem. Nowhere to sit for eight hours a day. My solution was to go into an elevator, turn it off, close the doors, and pretend I was vacuuming it to rest my feet!

Goldberg: Cartagena-Hooker Cover-Up ‘a Glimpse Inside the Politicized, Control-Freak White House’



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E-mails Suggest Quinn Used Grant Program to Get Out Black Chicago Vote



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Democratic Illinois governor Pat Quinn faces new scrutiny over a $54.5 million neighborhood grant program that has been the subject of a federal probe, with the release of e-mails suggesting the program was used to shore up Quinn’s 2010 reelection campaign by appealing to black voters. 

E-mails between Quinn’s 2010 campaign manager, chief of staff, and brother, Tom Quinn, reportedly show that the anti-violence grant program was discussed as part of an effort by the campaign to solidify support in the African-American community in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) was intended to address street violence when it was launched in 2010, but it was ended two years later as reports of mismanagement emerged. The NRI is the subject of state and federal investigations that have questioned the hasty and poorly planned allocation of resources to the program in the months leading up to the 2010 election. 

The controversy involving the program will likely be on center stage at Quinn’s first official debate with Republican candidate Bruce Rauner tonight. Quinn is currently up 1.5 percentage points according to the RealClearPolitics average, as the lead Rauner held on Quinn throughout the summer has evaporated. 

Predicting the Nobel Peace Prize



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My Dutch colleague Dr. Stan Veuger is often entertaining. Here, he discusses some likely candidates — by his estimation — for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The most obvious candidate this year is the World Health Organization, for failing to prevent or control the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Its claim to the prize is strong: much like the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won it last year after the Syrian Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own population, it has been prominently in the news for not accomplishing its goals.

But there are other serious contenders: President Obama, for example, for ending the war in Iraq, especially now that he has not won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his series of autobiographies, Russian president Vladimir Putin, for bringing stability to Syria and Ukraine, or Pope Francis, for sounding more liberal than his predecessors.

Whom does he think will win? Click here to find out.

— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

Grimes Won’t Say Whether She Voted for Obama



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Alison Lundergan Grimes ducked repeated questions about whether she backed President Obama in past elections during a visit with the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board on Thursday.

The Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate first dodged the question by saying the election was not about the president, but ​”about making sure we put Kentuckians back to work.”

During another attempt at answering the question, Grimes noted that she was a delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2008. “I think Kentuckians know that I’m a Clinton Democrat through and through,” she said.

She went on to ask the editorial board to “respect the sanctity of the ballot box.”

In one final go at it, Grimes responded that the president wasn’t on the ballot in Kentucky, and that she was going to focus on her opponent, Mitch McConnell.

Comstock Campaign Slams Politico Report



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Thursday morning, Politico ran a story implying that Republican congressional candidate Barbara Comstock hasn’t been sufficiently forthcoming about her business relationship with the Workforce Fairness Institute during her time as a Virginia state legislator. Comstock was paid by the organization to help publicly oppose on a federal level a few labor regulations that conservatives have long opposed (e.g., making cable television appearances to oppose them), while she was pushing for certain similar measures at the state level in the Virginia legislature.

In response to the story, Comstock’s campaign manager Susan Falconer released the following statement to National Review Online:

Barbara Comstock disclosed her federal clients under Virginia law as required. The Politico story suggesting otherwise is patently false. It is no secret that Barbara Comstock has worked in a public and open fashion – on TV, radio, and in print — advocating right to work policies. Further, it’s bizarre that Democrats are attacking Barbara for saving Virginia taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by passing competitive bidding legislation and protecting the right to a secret ballot. In contrast, John Foust, has supported over a trillion dollars in tax increases and opposed these right to work measures at the behest of his union boss friends who are now funding his campaign with over $100k in direct campaign contributions.

Comstock is running to fill the congressional seat held by retiring Republican Frank Wolf. This afternoon, Roll Call reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled $2.8 million worth of advertising air time it had reserved in the district. It appears to be shifting the money to respond to a Republican onslaught against a freshman Democratic congressman in California.

White House: Secret Service Scandal Is Old News



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President Obama’s spokesman responded to the report that administration officials suppressed information about a White House connection to the Secret Service prostitution scandal by assuring reporters that this story isn’t worth discussing anymore.

“As most of you will remember, a lot of this was reported over two years ago,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters. “In April of 2012, when the allegations first surfaced, the White House proactively initiated an internal review of the White House advance team that traveled to Colombia. . . . We considered this evidence, and found no other corroborating materials to suggest this volunteer engaged in inappropriate behavior.”

Schultz returned to that theme throughout the questioning, steadily exaggerating the amount of time that has elapsed since the events took place.

“Again, two years, three years ago now, when the White House initiated this review, it looked at any possible member of the White House team who may have been engaged in inappropriate conduct on the ground on that trip,” Schultz said.

April 2012 to now is about two and a half years ago, so maybe Schultz should be permitted to round upward.

“I think that the review that was conducted several years ago now, again, looked at these allegations and found there was nothing to them,” he reiterated.

The “dude, this was two years ago” defense appears to be a staple of White House crisis management.

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