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Democrats Fail in Effort to Tilt Alaska’s GOP Senate Primary



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The last major Republican primary in a state with a competitive Senate race this fall is over. Last night in Alaska, the choice of both establishment Republican Karl Rove and the free-market Club for Growth won over a tea-party-backed candidate — but not by much. With that result comes some lessons for the future about Democratic interference in GOP primaries. The race against Democratic senator Mark Begich this fall will be close and very hard fought — and could determine overall control of the Senate.

Former state attorney general Dan Sullivan won 40 percent of the vote to defeat Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller (32 percent) and Lieutenant. Governor Mead Treadwell (25 percent). The result was much closer than polls had showed, with Miller winning almost twice as high a percentage of the vote as expected. Miller had a similar surge in 2010 when he won a narrow victory over U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski but went on to lose to her as a write-in that fall. Since then he has remained politically active, and won the endorsement of Sarah Palin in this year’s race after he joined her in calling for President Obama’s impeachment.

Miller’s grassroots support gave him a late surge against Sullivan. But one of the biggest drags on the frontrunner was a series of brutal TV ad attacks against him by Put Alaska First, a Democratic super PAC allied with Senator Begich. It spent $4 million in a small state on ads accusing Sullivan of undermining hunting and fishing rights while serving as the state’s natural-resources commissioner. Then late in the campaign, Put Alaska First ran ads highlighting Miller’s pro-life stands along with his support for impeaching Obama.

“Why else would you be telling Republican primary voters that he wants to impeach President Obama?” GOP strategist Taylor Bickford told the Anchorage Daily News, describing Put Alaska First’s strategy as “very clearly trying to move Sullivan and Treadwell votes over to Joe Miller.”

“They’ve essentially couched positive messages in ads that look and feel like attacks,” he said. The tactic is very similar to what allies of Senator Claire McCaskill did in 2012 in Missouri, when they ran ads attacking Representative Todd Akin as an extreme conservative. He wound up winning the GOP primary thanks to conservative votes but his loose tongue and comments on “legitimate rape” quickly cost him the election. Senator Harry Reid’s allies did much the same thing in Nevada in 2012, resulting in the primary victory of Sharron Angle, who then went on to lose to Reid in the general election.

Republicans are going to have to anticipate further attempts by liberals to intervene in their primaries and influence the result. Sullivan himself is unfazed by the effort and promises to beat Begich in November. “The fact that they attacked me so early just showed they feared me the most,” he told reporters.

Poll: Democrats Oppose Obama’s Unilateral Amnesty



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A majority of self-identified Democrats oppose President Obama’s expected executive orders to provide administrative relief for illegal immigrants, according to a poll released Wednesday.

“Nearly three quarters of likely voters want Congress and the President to work together to address immigration policy,” Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway found. “This includes majorities of self-identified Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Conservatives, and Moderates, while Liberals are alone in supporting Obama as the executive action Lone Ranger.”

Fifty-six percent of Democrats in the poll said they would prefer Obama to work with Congress rather than act unilaterally; 81 percent of independents and 93 percent of Republicans gave the same answer.

Of the political groups surveyed, only liberals prefer unilateral action, 56 percent to 44.

Conway surveyed 1,001 likely voters between July 16 and 20 and another 1,008 from August 7 to 10.

Overall, just 32 percent of likely voters approve of Obama’s handling of the immigration issue. 

Most pointedly, likely voters were unequivocal in their support of immigration policies that protect the American worker,” Conway wrote (emphasis in the original). “Their sentiment is the inverse of the oft-repeated phrase, ‘illegal immigrants do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do,’ saying instead that these workers should have a fair opportunity to do the jobs that illegal immigrants currently do.”

If Democratic strategists are looking for comfort in the survey, the results suggest that the populism motivating such antipathy to Obama’s immigration policies creates a political opening on the minimum-wage issue.

“‘Raise the pay’” is a rallying call for these voters, who believe there are plenty of Americans to do the work and that better pay and more training is an elixir for labor shortages,” Conway wrote. “Working class voters, married women, and political Independents agree with this in dramatic numbers.” 

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MSNBC Reporter: Ferguson ‘Almost Like an Apartheid State’



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Pulitzer Prize–winning MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee, who has been on the ground in Ferguson, Mo., for most of the unrest, said on Tuesday the city’s governmental structure is similar to apartheid. 

Referring to remarks by the town’s mayor that the community didn’t have a racial divide, Lee said, “It’s one thing to say there’s no racial undertone here, but then in practice it’s almost like an apartheid state.”

Making the comments during an appearance on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Lee pointed to the small number of black officers on the city’s police force and the zero black members on the school board in the 70 percent black community. Lee also pointed out that Ferguson’s schools perofrm poorly and that he believes white St. Louis residents blame the community of Ferguson for its own problems.

Via Weasel Zippers.

Tags: Ferguson

Web Briefing: August 21, 2014

Spike Lee: ‘There Is a War on the Black Male’



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Filmmaker Spike Lee weighed in on the death of Michael Brown and said the “uprising” in Ferguson, Mo., is in response to years of racial tension and mistreatment towards the black community in the United States. “When people get to a point — to that tipping point — they can’t take it anymore,” Lee said on CNN on Tuesday, listing the tragedies involving Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Rodney King, and others.

While he seemed to disapprove of looting and burning property, Lee also said that he “just hope[s] that things will really blow up if people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

The deaths of Brown, Martin, Garner, and others are extreme examples of a growing trend in America, he continued.

“I just think there is a war on the black male, and it’s tearing the country apart, in my opinion,” Lee said. “It’s not just killing us — it’s educational system, it’s the prison system, it’s these young black men growing up with no hope. It’s systematic.”

Earlier in the interview, Lee also questioned the validity of the account of a friend of Officer Darren Wilson, who killed Brown, which was substantially more favorable to the officer than other witnesses’ accounts. Lee said the timing of the friend’s statement was orchestrated and said she’d been reading from a script.

Lee infamously involved himself in the media frenzy surrounding the 2012 Trayvon Martin case, at one point distributing to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers what he thought was the address to the house of Martin’s killer. (The address ended up belonging to an elderly Florida couple, who received a series of death threats in the subsequent months.)

Via Breitbart.

Tags: Ferguson

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From Ferguson: Armored Trucks at a Car Wash



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As daylight fades in Ferguson, police have moved armored vehicles down West Florissant Street and stationed them at a car wash. Police are preventing people from walking in the street but are still allowing them to walk past the car wash where the vehicles are stationed. The car wash is located directly across from the QuikMart, a destroyed convenience store, that has been fenced off and guarded by police.

Tags: Ferguson

Americans Are Taking Less Vacation



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My wife just got back from a wedding in England, and while there she chatted up a friend about Americans and vacation. Her friend worked for a few years in London, and recently moved to Boston. He is shocked by how little vacation time Americans have relative to the Brits.

I thought of this while reading a fascinating back-of-the-envelope calculation by Evan Soltas.

Nine million Americans took a week off in July 1976, the peak month each year for summer travel. Yet in July 2014, just seven million did. Keeping in mind that 60 million more Americans have jobs today than in 1976, that adds up to a huge decline in the share of workers taking vacations.

Some rough calculations show, in fact, that about 80 percent of workers once took an annual weeklong vacation — and now, just 56 percent do.

There’s lots more in the whole post, which you can find here.

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

Protesters in Ferguson Are Registering Voters



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A man walking down West Florissant Street is carrying water bottles in a wheelbarrow with a sign that reads “Voter Forms and Water.” Elad Gross, president of the Education Exchange Corps, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth, is soliciting protesters and other residents walking down the road. “The idea is empowerment, but also to make sure that no one passes out today,” he says.

On Sunday, a woman with a clipboard was registering voters in the aisles of a church before a rally led by Al Sharpton.


Tags: Ferguson

SEE: Rick Perry’s Mug Shot



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While prominent liberals including ThinkProgress, the New York Times editorial board, Jonathan Chait, David Axelrod, Timothy Noah, and others have all joined in giving a thumbs-down to the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Travis County District Attorney’s office seems determined to continue its pursuit of Perry. As a result, Perry turned himself in Tuesday and got photographed. 

The good news is that the 2012 presidential candidate and 2016 hopeful remembered a simple but rarely observed rule for preserving one’s dignity while in the clink: ALWAYS SMILE FOR YOUR MUG SHOT!

Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, has overseen an unusually robust era of prosperity and progress in the Lone Star State, but he has been indicted on abuse of power charges for withholding funds from the Travis County office after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after video surfaced of her going on a rampage against deputies and being restrained during a drunk-driving arrest. Lehmberg, to put it mildly, does not believe in putting her best face forward while in police custody:

Tags: Rick Perry

CNN Besieged by Ferguson Protesters



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More than 1,000 protesters rallied outside of CNN’s Atlanta headquarters on Monday to voice their frustration with the news network’s coverage of the Ferguson, Mo., protests and the killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, and protest police brutality generally.

Protesters said they took issue with CNN’s “smearing” of Brown, including the network’s airing of footage released by the police of a robbery Brown was allegedly involved in on the day he was killed.

CNN also aired an interview from a friend of Wilson, sharing the officer’s account of the events that led to Brown’s death, which contradicts the accounts of other eyewitnesses. According to the friend, Wilson says Brown tried to grab his gun from him and later “bum-rushed” the officer before he was shot and killed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “I am Mike Brown” throughout the event.

ISIS Beheads American Journalist James Foley



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James Foley, an American journalist, was beheaded by the Islamic State recently, according to a video released by the jihadist group. Foley went missing in Syria in 2012. In the video, the Islamic State explains that the killing is in retaliation for American air strikes against the group in Iraq. They also appeared to show another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, on the video, claiming that if American operations continue he will be killed too.

One of the jihadists in the video appears to be a native English speaker and have a British accent — hundreds of holders of Western passports have reportedly joined the group in Iraq and Syria. (The U.S. intelligence community is still trying to verify the video itself.)


Foley in Syria in 2012.

Foley worked for the U.S. military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, in Afghanistan in 2011. When he was reporting from Libya, also in 2011, Foley was held captive by Qaddafi-loyalist militias for 44 days. He later wrote a series for the Global Post about the experience. Clare Gillis, another American journalist covering the Middle East, wrote an essay about her friendship with Foley for Syria Deeply in 2013.

Mo. Lt. Governor Blasts Governor for Mishandling of Ferguson Curfew



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Nearly everything Missouri governor Jay Nixon did regarding a curfew in Ferguson was wrong, according to the state’s lieutenant governor.

Peter Kinder, a Republican, said Nixon, a Democrat, not only waited too long after the unrest began to implement the curfew, only to cancel it days later, but he also should have made it from dusk to dawn rather than from midnight to 5 a.m. He argued that dusk-to-dawn curfews are more effective in restoring peace, than are curfews that allow demonstrations to go late into the night, which can lead to rising tensions and misconduct.

“You’ve announced to bad actors that they’ve got four hours of darkness in which they can do their looting, and their throwing of Molotov cocktails, and their storming of convenience stores, and breaking into retail stores before the curfew begins,” Kinder told MSNBC. Nonetheless, he urged Nixon to issue another curfew, even if it’s not necessarily from dusk to dawn.

“I don’t understand an argument for not reinstating it,” Kinder said. “I’m not trying to be overtly political — I am saying the people of Ferguson, the people of the state of Missouri are crying out for leadership.”

Via Breitbart.

Rapper Assumes Taylor Swift’s New Video Must Make Racial Assumptions



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A rapper tweeted that he didn’t have to watch Taylor Swift’s new music video to know it was offensive and promoted racial stereotypes — apparently not realizing that making assumptions about her video without watching it could also be considered stereotyping.

“Havent watched the taylor swift video and I don’t need to watch it to tell you that it’s inherently offensive and ultimately harmful,” Earl Sweatshirt tweeted on Monday, the day of the “Shake It Off” video release.

“Perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture,” he continued.

“For instance, those of you who are afraid of black people but love that in 2014 it’s ok for you to be trill or twerk or say n***a.”

Swift has been accused of racism by others on Twitter over the use of twerking and other hip-hop dancing in the video.

Some said it is is racist that mainly black dancers perform the hip-hop moves in the video because that is stereotyping. Conversely, others have said it is racist that she performs hip-hop moves in the video because those are “black” moves and she is white.

Tags: race

From Ferguson: No More Large Crowds



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The festive atmosphere that characterized Ferguson, Mo., this past weekend no longer exists. Police have fenced off the QuikTrip, which formerly functioned as the center of the protest. Chipotle workers passed out free burritos and chips, a drummer played, and large crowds gathered at the QuikTrip throughout the weekend, but now it is empty.

Elsewhere in Ferguson, residents appear to be trying to remove the international embarrassment created by many unruly protesters. Since the protests began, graffiti has spread all over Ferguson. The building below used to have the message Class War Now! written on it.

Now someone has covered over the graffiti and replaced the incendiary language with posters, including one that reads Hands up, don’t shoot.

A larger poster encouraging people to write the things they want to do before they die rests just next to the smaller posters. Bags of chalk hang next to the poster, so that people may write their own message. Some people have written that they want to “graduate high school” and “finish college” before they die.


Tags: Ferguson

So That’s What a Bomb Siren Sounds Like . . . Live from Jerusalem



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Back in my hotel room after a long, long, wonderful day all over Israel, on a trip organized by former senator Rick Santorum, I was just reading online about all the rockets fired elsewhere in Israel in the past eight hours (none near us) when, wouldn’t you know it, the bomb siren sounded here in Jerusalem, where we are staying a very short walk from the Old City.

So I grabbed wallet, passport, phone, and room key, and hustled to the stairwell where we had been instructed to go in case of just such an eventuality. People were crowded into the well, but except for a girl of about three years old, nobody seemed scared. People were in various levels of dress (nobody anywhere near undressed, of course, but a few robes and PJs), and some of the guests seemed downright jolly. Part of it, I think, is because of the confidence bred by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. (Our delegation visited one such installation earlier this afternoon.) And part is because people here, including tourists, just won’t be cowed.

Hamas claims now to have shot off at least 40 rockets since about 3 or 4 o’clock this afternoon. (It’s now exactly midnight as I write.) All they are doing is bringing more destruction down on their own heads. 

After about ten minutes, we all left the stairwell and returned to our rooms, which is why I’m back on my computer, writing. It will take a lot more than this to hurt morale in Israel. But tourism is down substantially here since the latest attacks started two months ago. It shouldn’t. Despite this siren, I feel very safe. Israel’s defensive systems are terrific. And it’s a beautiful country, a nation of great invention and inventiveness, with Western values and incredibly warm people. They love American visitors. They appreciate us. So, as we say down South in the U.S., y’all come.

Simms, Dungy to Try to Not Use ‘Redskins’ Name; Ditka Calls Name’s Critics ‘Stupid’ and ‘Asinine’



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Some of the NFL’s most legendary, respected names are differing over whether to use the Washington Redskins name in television broadcasts this season

CBS’s Phil Simms and NBC’s Tony Dungy, who each spent more than a decade in the league as either players or coaches, recently said they will likely refrain from using “Redskins” moving forward.

“My very first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game,” Simms, who is expected to call the September 25 game between the team and the New York Giants, told the Associated Press. “I never really thought about it, and then it came up and it made me think about it. There are a lot of things that can come up in a broadcast, and I am sensitive to this.”

As quarterback for the Giants throughout the 1980s, Simms faced off against the interdivisional rival Redskins multiple times.

Dungy echoed Simms’s stance, though he is an in-studio commentator and will not directly call any of the team’s games.

“I will personally try not to use ‘Redskins’ and refer to them as ‘Washington,’” said Dungy, who played or coached in the league from 1977 to 2008, during which time he won two Super Bowls. “Personal opinion for me, not the network.”

But ESPN commentator Mike Ditka blasted critics and told them to “leave [the issue] alone.”

“This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins,” he told the website redskinshistorian.com.

Ditka, who is better known for his time as the Super Bowl-winning coach of Chicago Bears, and spent four decades as a player or coach, said the name is “out of reverence, out of pride” to American Indians, and is not disparaging.

“It’s been the name of the team since the beginning of football,” Ditka added. “It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”

‘The Children,’ by Jody Bottum



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After The Giver, you might enjoy this dark new folk music video “The Children,” from a new album by Mallory Reaves, who sings this along with six other new songs by Jody Bottum:

Fund: Sending Eric Holder ‘Probably Shows Solidarity’ with Ferguson Protesters



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Captain Ron Johnson: I’m ‘Embarrassed’



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Captain Ron Johnson is “embarrassed” by the events in Ferguson, Mo., and not just in his role of overseeing the policing efforts in the embattled city, but as a man and a citizen.

“I wear this uniform, but this defines me at a low level,” Johnson told CNN on Tuesday. “I’m a man first, a black man second, I’m a husband, I’m a father, I’m a son. A trooper? There’s a lot of things I am before I’m a trooper.”

“One thing I am is an honest man, and I have my integrity, and I’ll stand with what’s right,” he continued. “Even if this uniform is wrong, I’ll tell you we’re wrong, but if we’re right, I’m going to tell you we’re right.”

While a vast majority of protesters want peaceful demonstrations, Johnson said, instigators are peeling off demonstrators to join in the violent behavior, which has come to mark Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown. He said he joins others in being embarrassed by what has taken place over the past week and a half.

“I think everyone that’s a great citizen of this community, and great citizens of this state, and great citizens of this nation are embarrassed,” Johnson said.

Tags: Ferguson

St. Louis Police Shoot and Kill Knife-Wielding Man



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Two officers killed a St. Louis man who tried to rob a convenience store with a knife, just miles away from the scene where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. earlier this month.

Details on the incident are developing, but it appears the 23-year-old man was acting erratically outside the store and holding a knife when police arrived on the scene following a verbal confrontation with the store’s owner. Multiple 911 calls were reportedly made regarding the man. 

The man refused to put down the knife and yelled something to the effect of “Shoot me, kill me now.” Police say the man charged the officers, prompting them to shoot the suspect multiple times.

The most recent shooting is apparently unrelated to the Ferguson protests.

BuzzFeed Brings Liberals to Shoot Guns for the First Time



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The video is as entertaining as it sounds: Five Los Angeles hipsters and fervent opponents of gun rights head to a gun range to shoot for the first time. Armed with their shared anti-gun predispositions — as well as a 9 mm and a shotgun — the participants are startled that gunpowder smells like fireworks and that at least some of them “kind of” enjoyed it.

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