The Morning Jolt

Like Bartles and Jaymes Said, ‘We Thank You for Your Support’

Loyal readers, think you for putting up with this relentless nagging. It seems to be working; Heavy Lifting began Tuesday at 1,023 on Amazon and reached 808 before settling back to 1,406. We’re still the No. 1 new release in the Parenting & Families Humor section — ahead of Whoopi Goldberg! By the time you read this, I’ll have appeared on the Scot Bertram show and today at 5:30 a.m. I’m scheduled to appear in-studio with Larry O’Connor on WMAL in Washington. Cam is talking up the book on the Kevin Miller Show this morning and the Eric Metaxas Show in the afternoon.

The Conservative Book Club interviewed me about the book, and you can read that here. Over at Patheos, John Mark Reynolds offers a thoughtful, mostly-but-not-entirely positive review, concluding, “This book is worth reading, might help many people, and start more than one hot debate. Go forth and purchase.” He also points out . . .

One suspects a 1950′s conservative like William F. Buckley would said: “Go to church.” Geraghty and Edwards do not tell you not to go, but I am not sure large numbers of secular men are going to heed their advice. The secular man has been morally gelded and they are asking him to be fruitful. Good luck.

Reynolds makes a fair point. Cam and I and the good folks at Regnery talked about how much religion and spirituality discussion we wanted to put in there, and ultimately Cam and I decided we wanted to be able to reach beyond the converted, so to speak. I’d like to think that most Christians will pick it up and nod and agree and laugh along the whole time; I’d also like to think Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and everyone else would have the same response, and that even atheists would find the references to The Man Upstairs insufficient reason to put the book down.

Invoking God’s will is an extraordinarily effective argument when attempting to persuade those who believe in the same God you do. If you’re attempting to influence someone who doesn’t . . . you have to try a different tactic.

It’s Debate Night. Blame the Crowd If Your Favorite Doesn’t Get Enough Time

It’s debate night, and after further review, the problem does not appear lie with the Republican National Committee’s debate schedule. No, the problem lies more with the tumultuous mob of GOP candidates. It’s like trying to fit too many people onto an elevator.

Combined with a factor the RNC couldn’t foresee — the unprecedented size of the field — the slimmed-down schedule has made for a tragedy of the commons, with a glut of candidates who might shine on a four- or five-person stage struggling for attention when surrounded by twice as many rivals. With so many contenders in the field, it’s impossible for anyone except the top two or three in the polls to get much press coverage outside of the debates — and it’s proven difficult for anyone at all to get enough attention in them.

RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer is quick to point out that for all of the complaints about the undercard debates, in past cycles candidates polling so poorly probably wouldn’t have appeared on any debate stage. In 2012, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson was invited to only two of the debates. ABC News and the Des Moines Register chose not to invite Jon Huntsman to their December debate because he hadn’t reached 5 percent in Iowa or nationwide. And several other long-shot candidates weren’t invited to any.

This field has a dozen candidates all waiting for the other eleven to drop out. In the meantime, welcome to the Ricky Bobby debates:

Let’s Look Closer at Those Non-Violent Drug Offenders Obama Mentioned

President Obama yesterday in Chicago: “Our prisons are crowded with non-violent offenders serving long sentences for drug crimes.”

From that wording, it’s easy to presume he’s talking about marijuana possession, and . . . no, that’s not really the case. According to that notorious anti-marijuana, pro-war-on-drugs rag . . . er . . . Rolling Stone:

About 750,000 people are arrested every year for marijuana offenses in the U.S. There’s a lot of variation across states in what happens next. Not all arrests lead to prosecutions, and relatively few people prosecuted and convicted of simple possession end up in jail. Most are fined or are placed into community supervision. About 40,000 inmates of state and federal prison have a current conviction involving marijuana, and about half of them are in for marijuana offenses alone; most of these were involved in distribution. Less than one percent are in for possession alone.

When I pointed this out yesterday, some folks argued that even 400 Americans sitting in prison for marijuana possession is too many. Others argued that 

marijuana is so harmless — after all, it’s legal in several states — that dealers shouldn’t be sent to prison. (Of course, selling legal products alcohol or tobacco without a license is against the law, too. Here in Virginia, the penalty for selling alcohol without a license is up to a $2,500 fine and/or twelve months in jail.)

But Obama’s reference to “drug crimes” refers to a lot of non-simple-possession crimes: “Drug offenses were the most common federal crime in fiscal year 2013. Most of the 25,000 drug cases involved the manufacture, sale, or transportation of a drug, while 2,332 of those cases involved the simple possession of a drug.” In that year, cocaine made up 37 percent of offenders, methamphetamines made up 24 percent; marijuana made up 21 percent, heroin was 9.6 percent.

I’m sorry, but prison time for coke, meth, or heroin dealers doesn’t strike me as one of the world’s pressing injustices.

America’s Most Influential Teenager Is . . .

Time magazine named Malia Obama one of the “Most Influential Teens of 2015,” declaring her to be a “full-fledged cultural icon.”

When’s the last time you saw her? Some footage of her walking with her parents from Marine Force One? Heck, when’s the last time you even thought about her?

How can you be an influential cultural icon if people rarely see you? Do words mean things anymore, or do we just pick them because they sound good?

Malia Obama’s lack of time in the public eye is deliberate and to be applauded. Let me attempt a kind word about the Obamas — they’ve tried to keep their daughters out of the spotlight and give them something resembling a normal life — high school, prom night . . . er, spring break in China . . . 17-day trips to Hawaii for Christmas . . . shopping trips in Milan, Italy. Okay, maybe their lives aren’t that normal. In fact, Malia did intern on the set of HBO’s Girls. Definitely not normal.

This isn’t quite as bad as Chelsea Clinton giving the keynote address at South by Southwest, but it does further illuminate the media’s constant need to celebrate all members of our political royal families, even the ones who seem to be trying to stay out of the spotlight.

If you are a key Democratic-party figure, you will be saluted and celebrated relentlessly, even in ways that are so off-base they’re ridiculous. Men’s Fitness named Barack Obama one of the 25 fittest men in America twice . . . while he was still a smoker. Hillary Clinton received 19 awards in the year after she left the State Department, including the Helen Keller Humanitarian Award, The Elton John Foundation’s Founders’ Award, and the Michael Kors Award for Outstanding Community Service. From 2005 to 2008, the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album went to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama again. Really? Those were the single-best spoken word performances in the country four years running? Better than all those other nominees, like George Carlin, Steve Martin, Maya Angelou, Bob Newhart, David Sedaris?

Then again, the Clock Boy made Time’s list of influential teens, too.

I guess it’s good to have a role model.

ADDENDA: Our old friend Tim Cavanaugh notices, “the P.B.S. News Hour uses the phrase ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ to describe an Ed.D. from the University of Delaware but does not use the phrase ‘Dr. Ben Carson’ to describe the former chief neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins.”

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