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Udall Apologizes for Invoking Slain Journalists in Debate



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Colorado senator Mark Udall has apologized for referring to slain journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley to make a point in the course of a debate Saturday with his Senate opponent, Republican congressman Cory Gardner. 

“When addressing ISIL during this weekend’s debate, I should not have invoked the names of James Foley and Steven Sotloff,” Udall said in a statement released Monday evening. “It was inappropriate and I sincerely apologize.”

Udall mentioned the late journalists in the course of a plea for deliberation and restraint on the part of the U.S. against the Islamic State. “I can tell you,” he said, “Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”

The senator said Monday that he meant merely to “emphasize the importance of taking the right next steps.” He came under fire for his remarks, which National Review Online reported Monday afternoon. Gardner, for his part, said that it’s “outrageous that Senator Udall would put words into the mouths of dead Americans.”

Mike Ditka Endorses Republican Bruce Rauner in Ill. Gov’s Race



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Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign has enlisted former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka to help defeat incumbent Democratic governor Pat Quinn. Ditka showed support for Rauner in an ad released yesterday, which can be found on DitkaTough.com. In the ad, he tells Rauner, “You know what I like about you Bruce? You’re tough. You attack the special interests. Bam. Hit them right in the mouth.”   

Ditka, coach of the last Bears team to win an NFL championship in 1985, is a popular figure in Illinois who may help Rauner in his quest to obtain the support of blue collar voters across the state, aka the “Grabowskis.” In 2004, when Ditka was contemplating a run for U.S. Senate as a Republican, the Democratic opponent Barack Obama reportedly said, “I think if he [Ditka] gets in, he immediately becomes a favorite.” And a hypothetical poll that pitted Ditka versus Obama had the coach trailing by seven points, closer than any other Republican candidate the poll tested.

Ditka has since called the decision to forego running against Obama his biggest mistake, but showed no doubt in his decision to support Rauner in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times noted that Ditka is not registered to vote in Illinois—he is registered in Florida instead—and appears to have questioned Ditka’s qualifications for choosing a candidate.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m qualified or not. What’s ‘qualification’?” Ditka told the Sun-Times in part. “You qualified to interview me? I think so. It’s not too complicated. It’s only common sense.” Ditka also said that he supported Rauner because, “I think he’s a better person for the state of Illinois and people of Illinois than Quinn. Period.” The Quinn campaign was quick to push back against Ditka’s support for Rauner, and a Quinn spokeswoman told the Sun-Times, “if Mr. Rauner is such a Bears fan, why’s he a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers?”

But the only thing Rauner appears to want to claim ownership of is his “ugly van.” In a recent ad that hits Quinn for flying from Chicago to Springfield at taxpayers’ expense, Rauner says he plans to drive to work as governor in the van that his kids call a “rolling trash can.” Rauner’s continued attempt to reach middle class voters, especially in hotly-contested suburban Cook County, may determine his fate in November.

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Democrats Complain about Republican Calling Senator by Her First Name



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Senator Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) is scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to finding ways to portray her Republican opponent, House speaker Thom Tillis, as anti-woman.

Following the two Senate candidates’ first debate, Hagan’s team is complaining that Tillis called his former colleague by her first name.

“We saw women on social media in particular who were bothered by his tone and more than anything they were bothered by his record,” Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner told Politico.

Tillis had a pretty good comeback. “I knew Senator Hagan when she was in the state legislature. I knew her husband, Chip. This race isn’t about titles. It’s about results,” Politico quotes him as saying. “And in Senator Hagan’s case, it’s a lack of results. If you look at it just objectively, if that is what Hagan’s camp is focusing on in this debate, then they must have really felt in their own minds that they fell short on the issues. If it really comes down to that — I mean what about the substance of the debate?”

Hagan’s more policy-oriented attempt to drive women away from Tillis — claiming that he “had ‘consistently made it difficult’ for women to access birth control,” per the Duke Chronicle — fell flat when Tillis said he thinks it should be “more broadly” available.

“I think over-the-counter oral contraception should be available without a prescription,” he said, as Politico noted elsewhere. “If you do those kinds of things you will actually increase the access and reduce the barriers for having more options for women for contraception.”

Web Briefing: September 12, 2014

Emirates to Ex-Im Bank: We’ll Be Just Fine without You



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The rumor that House Republicans are preparing to introduce a continuing resolution that will reauthorize the Export-Import Bank simmers about Washington. This apparent willingness to betray free-market principles is even more disappointing in light of another major revelation, from one of the bank’s top customers, that the program doesn’t play the important role its supporters claim.

On Friday, the airline Emirates confirmed to Reuters that the firm uses cheap financing from Ex-Im even though it doesn’t need it. It has ample financing options to continue buying Boeing planes without Ex-Im’s nonsensical subsidies, the airline says. From the article:

Emirates, Dubai’s flagship airline, would not have trouble buying planes from Boeing Co (BA.N) even if the U.S. Congress fails to renew the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s charter later this month, a senior company executive said on Friday.

The Ex-Im Bank, which provides financing to help US businesses sell products overseas, is only one of many financial sources that Emirates draws on when buying planes, Hubert Frach, the airline’s senior vice president for commercial operations in the West, said in an interview with Reuters.

‘Ex-Im is not an exclusive tool for Emirates to finance the aircraft,’ Frach said. ‘Our aircraft are financed by various concepts.’

This is not surprising. Emirates is the state-owned airline of an extremely wealthy country. Like many of Ex-Im’s biggest customers and beneficiaries, Emirates has sufficient access to capital markets to prevent any of the problems that Ex-Im fearmongerers proclaim permeate aircraft purchases. Contrary to the doom-and-gloom scenarios promulgated by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, Emirates can purchase plenty of aircraft from Boeing — and rascally rival Airbus — without any export subsidies. There are plenty of other aircraft customers just like it: According to the GAO, roughly 85 percent of Boeing and Airbus large-aircraft deliveries were not subsidized by export-credit agencies.

Some defenders of the bank admit these facts, but argue that Emirates isn’t abusing Ex-Im because it doesn’t use the agency’s services that much, and that plenty of other airlines do need export credit.

What’s wrong with those arguments? For one, the Ex-Im financing Emirates gets may not seem like a lot to Beltway types used to thinking in billions and trillions of dollars, but it’s still a lot of money for regular Americans and a certainly non-trivial risk for them as taxpayers. The Bank’s records show that Emirates Airline was able to procure 14 deals from 2007 to 2013, amounting to a total of roughly $3.4 billion in assistance

If we take Emirates at their word, the firm shouldn’t have received assistance in the first place according to Ex-Im’s charter, which mandates that Ex-Im funding should “supplement and encourage, and not compete with, private capital.” Bank defenders routinely point to the binding rules of its charter to argue that the Bank only “fills a financing gap.” If a high-profile customer like Emirates publicly admits it doesn’t need the financing, what else is going on in violation of Ex-Im’s charter? A quick look at the Ex-Im Bank’s lists of borrowers reveals that many airlines that used Ex-Im are no different from Emirates.

The first step to investigating potentially fishy business is to follow the money. Who benefited from these Emirates deals? You can probably guess pretty quickly: Boeing was the primary supplier for half of the Emirates deals and GE was the supplier for the remaining half. Second, according to Ex-Im’s data, large French banks like ​Société Générale, Credit Agricole, and BNP Paribas, plus U.S. banks like JP Morgan, are also gigantic beneficiaries of these deals. As we knew was the case, much Ex-Im activity gives a leg up to well-connected, wealthy firms that don’t fit the aims of the bank’s charter.

These untoward dealings are all the more sordid when you consider that U.S. airlines that compete with Emirates Airline are penalized by the deal. As I wrote in July:

Again, the data show that many companies buy planes both using Ex-Im guarantees and without them. In June 2012, for instance, Emirates bought two Boeing 777s using Ex-Im financing and four Airbus A380s using market financing. This is good evidence of two things: (1) the airline can afford to buy some aircrafts at normal market rates, and (2) that private lenders are willing to lend the money even absent of the help of Ex-Im. …

That very wealthy firm benefited from interest rates that were nearly half the rates that its unsubsidized competition could procure without Ex-Im privileges. The result? Emirates will save $20.3 million per plane — a perk that Delta Airlines and other U.S. airlines don’t have access to.

When Delta and other airlines can’t compete on costs, they have to cut jobs. And that’s what they do. During the hearing on Ex-Im before the House Finance Committee, the CEO of Delta, Richard Anderson, testified that some 7,500 U.S. airlines jobs had to be cut because they faced unfair competition from the Ex-Im subsidized ‘customers.’”

If defenders of the Export-Import Bank are genuine in their commitment to the bank’s true purpose, then they should be very troubled by this revelation.

 

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Arkansas Dem: Independent Voters Are ‘In Favor of the Republican Candidate’



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Former Representative Mike Ross (D., Ark.), the Democratic nominee for governor, has some bad news for his party —for vulnerable Senator Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) perhaps most of all.

Ross believes that independents in his state strongly prefer Republicans. “Forty percent [of voters] are now independent, and the problem we’ve got is, they’re breaking 2-1 right now in favor of the Republican candidate,” he told supporters in June. A supporter of Republican candidate Asa Hutchison recorded Ross’ remarks at the W. Harold Flowers Law Society and recently provided the audio to Republicans, who released it last week.

The former congressman explained that he is a viable candidate only because of his breaks with Democratic party leadership.

“I was named one of the most independent members of Congress when I was there,” he said. “I did have an A rating with the NRA. I did vote against Obamacare. You know, I did. And, and quite frankly, if I was any different on any of those three, I couldn’t be running for governor right now in this state, in this situation that we find ourselves in, or if I did, I’d just be spinning my wheels.”

That’s tough for Pryor, who has a lifetime C- rating from the NRA and who voted for Obamacare.

“Senator Pryor’s record shows that he fights against the will of Arkansans, even the Democrat gubernatorial candidate realizes that,” Republican National Committee spokesman Raffi Williams said in a statement to National Review Online. “Arkansans stand against Obamacare, against Obama and national Democrats, and stand for the Second Amendment—nevertheless Pryor continues to rubberstamp President Obama’s agenda at the expense of Arkansas families.”

Ross noted that he thinks Pryor can win by defining Representative Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) as too extreme to be in the Senate.

“People in Arkansas are pretty angry and they’re saying that ‘if there’s not a difference between the two, then I’m going to vote Republican,’” Ross says at the event. “And one of the reasons Pryor is now doing better than Cotton is, I think, they’ve done a pretty good job of painting Cotton as the extremist, which I believe he is, and we’re beginning to do that with  — now that these primaries are over — we’re beginning to do that with Asa.”

Truett Cathy, Rest in Peace



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One of America’s great entrepreneurs and philanthropists died today. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A passed away, “peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones.” He was 93 years old.

I love reading the stories of the founding of great companies, with so many starting in garages or in the most humble of places. Cathy’s success story started with surplus chicken breasts and a “Henny Penny:”

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that Truett Cathy began work on a fried-chicken sandwich, after the owners of a local poultry purveyor came to him with surplus boneless breast pieces.

Mr. Cathy, whose mother had fried chicken in a skillet with the lid on to keep it moist, began using a recently invented commercial pressure cooker, the Henny Penny, that allowed him to fry a boneless, skinless chicken breast in just four minutes.

After tinkering with his seasoning mix, Mr. Cathy put the result on a buttered bun, added pickle slices “to give the sandwich character,” and, at the suggestion of his lawyer, came up with the name Chick-fil-A — the final “A” a measure, he said, of the sandwich’s quality.

Cathy mixed a good chicken sandwich with foresight, placing his stores in shopping malls that were then popping up all over America. This was the era before the food court, when shoppers often had to leave the mall or walk into a sit-down restaurant to eat while they shopped. Chick-fil-A gave them a fast, delicious option. And the rest was history.

I can remember eating in Chick-fil-A’s since early elementary school. There was a store in Fayette Mall in Lexington, Ky. (the mall of choice for families from nearby Georgetown), and we always looked forward to the “Chick fil-A” break in grueling shopping days. (Well, I thought they were grueling. Every minute in a mall is grueling to me.) After hours of waiting for my mother and sister semi-patiently in J.C. Penny or Sears, few things tasted better than a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. 

While I liked Chick-fil-A for the chicken, I came to love it for its values. Years before the 2012 gay-marriage controversy that launched competing boycotts/buycotts, Chick-fil-A was known for treating its customers with an unusual amount of respect, and for empowering Cathy’s large-scale giving, with millions going to support the most vulnerable members of society. Its corporate purpose stands out as a clear marker of the source of the company’s convictions: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Cathy began in poverty and became a billionaire, but unlike other entrepreneurs of his stature, he passed up opportunities to make billions more by taking his fast-growing company public:

Doing so, he said in a 1998 interview, would mean giving up family control of matters such as contributions to charity and remaining closed on Sundays.

“As a public company, I’m sure somebody would object to our generosity,” he said.

In 2012, it turns out that “somebody” did object even though Chick-fil-A remained privately-held, with gay-rights groups calling for boycotts after Cathy’s son, Dan, declared that his family supported the “biblical definition of the family unit.” But the boycotts were swamped by a wave of “buycotts” that caused mulitiple Chick-fil-A’s to literally run out of chicken. My wife chronicled our own local buycott, where police (drinking from Chick-fil-A) cups directed the overwhelming traffic, local politicians showed up on force, and customers responded to hate with defiance and good cheer. When the radical Left took on Chick-fil-A, it took on not just any company, but one that millions of Americans had grown to love. The boycotts failed, and Chick-fil-A continued to prosper.

Christians frequently speak of ways to integrate faith and work, and in Cathy we had a role model – a man who treated others with dignity and respect, loved and served the “least of these,” and held firm to his convictions regardless of prevailing cultural winds. 

God bless you, Truett Cathy. You are no doubt hearing the very words we all wish one day to hear: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Left and Right Agree: Obama Is a Cynical Politician



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It seems to be an increasingly rare moment in American politics when Left and Right agree, but the poles appear to agree on one thing: President Obama is a cynical politician. Liberal criticism of the president comes on the heels of the president’s announcement that he plans to delay his proposed executive order on immigration until after November’s midterm elections.

The political calculation that prompted the decision is obvious: A constitution-bending order that legitimizes millions of illegal immigrants is not a decision red-state Senate Democrats in tight races want to have to defend. A Republican Senate (along with a Republican House) would mark the effective end of the Obama presidency.

Yet to Obama supporters who believed the president’s visionary qualities elevated him above political considerations, these calculations are outrageous: “What this shows now,” says Cesar Vargas, director of the DREAM Action Coalition, which advocates on behalf of young illegal immigrants, “is that Democrats are also willing to throw Latinos and immigrants under the bus.” Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration reform group America’s Voice, was equally blunt: “Jerking about the Latino community on a defining issue amounts to political malpractice.” In a statement issued over the weekend, National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguía condemned the president for “g[iving] in to the fears of Democratic political operatives, crushing the hopes of millions of hard-working people living under the constant threat of deportation and family separation.”

Republicans have long been aware that the president’s policy decisions are dictated by political considerations. It’s nice to see liberals coming to the same realization.

All this unity. It’s heartwarming.

Major Garrett Pushes WH to Admit Obama Delayed Immigration Action for Political Reasons



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The White House claims that President Obama has postponed granting legal status to illegal immigrants until after the midterms in order to make sure that such action will be “sustainable,” but CBS correspondent Major Garrett isn’t buying it.

During Monday’s briefing, Garrett confronted White House press secretary Josh Earnest about the president’s breaking his promise to take executive action before the end of the summer. Earnest blamed House Republicans for the lack of progress on the issue and said that President Obama wanted more time to articulate his reasons for the delay. Garrett questioned that rationale for the delay. “The president clearly doesn’t need nine weeks to explain this to the American people — if he wanted to explain it, he could explain it,” Garrett said. “It seems to me that the only rational explanation for this is the intervening midterm election and fears from Senate Democrats that they did not want to take this issue on in the teeth of an already tough political environment.”

But Earnest emphasized President Obama’s commitment to taking action by the end of the year, and said that he hoped waiting till after the midterms would ensure that his executive action was “sustainable and durable.” 

“If it’s an executive action, it is sustainable, by definition, until the end of his presidency,” Garrett fired back.

Ultimately, President Obama was worried about the “negative impact” his executive action would have on the issue and feared it would make the issue more controversial than it already is, Earnest tried to explain. “The president was willing to take a little political heat” for the delay in order to “ensure that the policy that he puts forward is one that can be sustained.”

“Not doing what he said he was going to do on the timeline he said he was going to do it is an act of courage?” Garrett asked in conclusion.

Udall: Beheaded American Journalists Would Have Wanted Cautious Approach to ISIS



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The president has in recent days taken fire from members of his own party for taking a low-key approach to tackling the problem presented by the Islamic State, particularly as the images of two American journalists kidnapped and beheaded in Syria have flashed across television screens. Even Minnesota senator Al Franken, who since his election in 2008 has gone to great lengths to avoid the media, made headlines when he said he was “troubled” by some of Obama’s statements.

Though the president has become a political liability for Democrats this election season, he hasn’t lost all of his allies in the Senate. In his first debate with Republican challenger Cory Gardner, Colorado senator Mark Udall stood behind Obama’s cautious approach.

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

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

In an interview on Tuesday, Udall — who supports air strikes against the Islamic State — also argued that the militants are attempting to bait the U.S. into taking brash action and might even welcome a more aggressive U.S. effort. “We need to understand what they’re trying to do,” he told Colorado’s 9News, “which is to cause us to rush in, not think through what our strategy is.”

President Obama on Sunday told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the Islamic State poses a “serious threat” to the U.S., though not yet as acute as that posed by al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks.

Udall and Gardner, a second-term congressman, are locked in a tight race, one of many that could determine the Senate majority come November. The latest NBC News/Marist poll has Udall leading Gardner by six points; the RealClearPolitics average has Udall up by three.

UPDATE: Cory Gardner issued a statement Monday afternoon slamming Udall’s remarks. “Americans have watched in horror in recent weeks as two of our fellow countrymen have been brutally executed by terrorists, and it’s outrageous that Senator Udall would put words into the mouths of dead Americans” Gardner said. “Furthermore, it’s deeply troubling that he views a terrorist organization like ISIL as not an imminent threat to America.”

Big Abortion Tries to Buy an Election in Pro-Life Tennessee



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There are few states more pro-life than Tennessee. When you poll my friends and neighbors (I live in Columbia, Tenn., perhaps best-known as the “Mule Capital of the World”), you’ll find that 70 percent of Tennesseans would like to ban abortion in all cases or in all cases except rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake. That’s a solid pro-life majority.

So Tennessee should be leading the nation in aggressive pro-life legislation, right? It should be joining Texas, Mississippi, Virginia, and other states in protecting women from Gosnell-style abortion mills and should be ensuring that abortion isn’t treated more casually than tattoos or piercings, right?

Wrong.

The Tennessee supreme court (long dominated by the Left — a holdover from Tennessee’s days as a blue-dog Democrat state) has decreed that the Tennessee Constitution protects abortion rights to a greater extent than the United States Supreme Court has protected the federal right to abortion. In plain English, this means that Tennessee has become a veritable abortion supermarket, with women traveling to evade pro-life regulations in neighboring states. Tennessee is a Gosnell scandal waiting to happen.

Enter Amendment 1, on the ballot this November. Supported by Governor Bill Haslam and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, it represents Tennessee’s best chance to restore sanity to Tennessee’s abortion laws. The key language is simple: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” The amendment reserves the ability to regulate abortion to the people of the state – through their elected representatives — taking it out of the hands of the state supreme court.

But the abortion mills — flush with taxpayer dollars — won’t easily surrender their Tennessee cash flow.

Fearful of losing their southern supermarket, the abortion industry is starting to flood money into the state. Pro-abortion forces are calling pro-life activists the “Tennessee Taliban,” and “Vote No on One” is seeking to spend double the amount of pro-life spending. Money is already flowing from the ACLU in New York and Planned Parenthood chapters from as far away as Seattle.

The pro-life movement is making enormous progress across the South. While leftist radicals are fond of chanting “this is what democracy looks like” during their street protests, southern voters are demonstrating actual democracy in action, doing the hard work of persuading their fellow citizens, working with lawmakers, and passing laws — protecting the lives and health of mother and child alike.

Until now, the state supreme court has shut down pro-life democracy in Tennessee. With Amendment 1, voters have a rare chance to overrule a pro-abortion court. I pray they can see through well-funded abortion industry deception and take that chance — take the chance to preserve and protect the most innocent lives.

Lowry: Obama ‘Has Inherent Authority’ to Act on ISIS, But Should Still Go to Congress with Vote



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RNC: Obama’s Failure to Act Unilaterally on Immigration a Slap at Hispanics



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This is pathetic. All the RNC has to say about the president temporarily delaying a blatantly unconstitutional act is that it constitutes one of his “broken promises.” Read it and weep:
“The President’s empty rhetoric and broken promises are a slap in the face to millions of Hispanics across the country,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement reacting to Saturday’s announcement. “This is more evidence that Democrats never really wanted to fix our immigration system when Republicans were sitting at the table. Immigration reform will continue to be the President’s biggest failure as long as he keeps playing politics and refuses to work with Republicans.”

A Shameful Spectacle at the Public Theater



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A question for our friends at the IRS: Isn’t having Senator Chuck Schumer urging a crowd of thousands to “Vote Democratic!” from the stage at an event hosted by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit a pretty clear violation of that group’s tax-exempt status?

Not that the IRS would do anything about it.

Senator Schumer, who is one of the key figures who urged the IRS to target conservative nonprofits in the run-up to the 2012 election and after, wandered into a scene in a bizarre, illiterate adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, put on by the Public Theater at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. (You will be able to read my review of this risible mess in the upcoming edition of The New Criterion.) Unlike those conservative organizations Senator Schumer and the IRS targeted — which, being 501(c)(4) organizations, are expressly permitted to engage in political activity — the Public Theater is expressly barred from campaign activity, being a 501(c)(3).

The evening began with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivering what amounted to a stump speech about his pre-kindergarten program and declaring his opposition to “every form of inequality” as publicity photographers captured the moment. (You try taking a photograph, with flashes, at the Delacorte Theater and find out which animals are more equal than others on this particular farm.) I wonder if the great crusader against inequality stood in line for three hours on a hot afternoon in the park to get his tickets, or whether that is only for the peons.

Senator Schumer entered the scene — literally — about a third of the way in, and struck up a conversation with the thief Autolycus, who also praised Mayor de Blasio’s pre-kindergarten program. At one point, Senator Schumer urged the audience: “Vote Democratic!”

Cookie Monster showed up later, but that’s another story.

I have never thought much of the idea of the artist as rebel; some artists are, and some aren’t. But to see Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis prostrating himself before politicians, and making his company utterly supine to them, was extraordinarily distasteful. It was a shameful spectacle. 

New Wave of Shelling Threatens Ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine



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A new wave of shelling and artillery fire has broken out in two key areas of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The news has sparked fears that the ceasefire deal agreed to on Friday morning by the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists will be short lived.

Reports are so far unclear of the source of the fire, which erupted both near the airport of the rebel-stronghold city of Donetsk and on the outskirts of the strategic port city Mariupol. (Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko made a surprise visit to the latter today.) Mariupol remains under Kiev’s control, but has been the object of recent attempts at “liberation” by the both the rebels and the Russian military.

Goldberg: Romney Boom ‘More to Do with Buyer’s Remorse’ about Obama Than ‘Pro-Romney Surge’



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Allen West Shows Off Fresh New Ink



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Former congressman Allen West (R., Fla.) is making a statement on the right to bear arms on his right bare arm with a new tattoo. Aces High Tattoo Shop in West Palm Beach, Fla. showed off the former Republican’s ink on its Instagram account over the weekend.

West’s tattoo reads “Molon Labe,” a Greek phrase of defiance that translates to “Come and Take,” which is popular among gun-rights activists.

Red Wave



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David Weigel points out that Republican Senate candidates are leading in the polls in every state Mitt Romney carried, but aren’t ahead in any blue state except Maine (where Republican Susan Collins is an incumbent). That’s enough to give Republicans control of the Senate.

Amy Walter, meanwhile, asks a question about the Republican weakness in blue states.

Republicans have everything going for them in 2014. If the combination of a great environment, lower turn-out, and good candidates can’t get them to victory in swing states like Colorado or Iowa, it doesn’t bode well for a GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

I’d add Michigan to that list. But I wouldn’t rule out a Republican victory in any of them.

A Quick Valentine



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I arrived at the Dallas airport yesterday and headed to the taxi line. The man in charge was an older fellow — white hair. He said, “Would you like a bottle of water?” Somewhat startled, I said, “Sure.” He reached into a cooler and handed me a bottle of water. I was about to ask, “How much?” but then remembered that I was in an unusual part of the country, and world. I kept quiet. Or rather, I just said, “Thank you.”

The man put my suitcase in a taxi’s trunk. I handed him a tip. He said, “No, no, we’re not allowed to take that.”

I have been a fair number of places over the years — and I bet I could count refusals of a tip on one hand.

“Texas” is an epithet all around the world, because anti-Americans concentrate their fire on Texas in particular. When I say “anti-Americans,” I mean people of all nationalities, including Americans. (Americans are the worst and most insufferable anti-Americans, as I’ve written many times.) The hatred of George W. Bush increased an anti-Texas feeling, of course.

There is something I tell people who think they don’t like Texas: Just go there. That’ll cure you. Texas is distinctively hospitable, and the food, girls, etc., cannot be surpassed (though they can be matched).

Within Texas, Dallas is known as snobby, materialistic, and fake. I get that. But by world standards: Dallas is wonderful, warm, and genuine.

Historical Revisionism



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Rick Hess on the College Board’s revision of AP U.S. history. An excerpt:

Fourth, although several specific charges are untrue, I have real concerns about the framework. I see remarkably little attention to America’s motivating ideals or to the resulting governing institutions. In the new framework, the only mention that the American Revolution might have had any historical significance is a clause mentioning that it had “reverberations in France, Haiti, and Latin America.” There is little or no discussion of the intermediary institutions that are so critical to American culture, society, and government. While the standards talk often about ethnic and gender identity, I don’t see any room for a discussion of whether there emerged any kind of distinct American “identity.” There’s little about economics that’s not about government efforts to combat injustice.  Students are introduced to decade after decade of American depravity, but there’s nothing to offer context for 20th century U.S. international engagements. The old framework’s attention to World War II-era “fascism and militarism in Japan, Italy, and Germany” is gone. Discussion of U.S. involvement in World War II and the Cold War mentions our “dominant” role and “position of global leadership,” with nary a mention that we might’ve been on the side of the angels. On the other hand, the framework explicitly suggests that some of our actions in World War II, such as internment of Japanese Americans, debates over segregation, and dropping the atomic bomb, “raised questions about American values.”

Buy Two and Get the Third Free



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