|1:01 PM, Nov 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Latest evidence of demoralization and frustration comes in the form of a Wall Street Journal poll that shows 56 percent of Americans responded with a “yes” to the question:
Are the country’s economic and political systems stacked against people like you?
Among the more troubling features of the poll:
It is not a temporary reaction to some sudden and dramatic event but something that has been building “...through two administrations, and despite notable improvements in the economy in the past two years, public unease over the political and economic systems has continued to climb.”
And the feeling is widespread, as “among those saying the system is stacked against them are 58% of Democrats; 51% of Republicans; 55% of whites; 60% of blacks; 53% of Hispanics; as well as decent majorities of every age and professional cluster, including blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and retirees.”
The rich and well educated, unsurprisingly, take a more favorable view of things as, "Among those with post-graduate degrees, just 38% say they feel the system is stacked against them. Among those who earn more than $75,000 a year, 44% feel that way.”
So, if we can just figure a way to get everyone a masters and a big raise ...
12:24 PM, Nov 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Walters and David Murray, writing for Hudson Institute:
If only marijuana use were legal, the argument goes, this threat to public well-being—wasted police resources, needlessly overcrowded prisons, and injustice against innocent marijuana users—would be avoided. Under this argument, the laws against marijuana use pose the greatest harm to society, greater than the impact of the drug itself.
Do data actually support this position?
In 2013, there were 11.3 million total arrests, 13.3 percent of which (totaling 1.5 million arrests) were for drug abuse violations. Most drug abuse violations were marijuana related offenses—marijuana possession arrests were 40.6 percent of all drug abuse violations and a little more than 5 percent of all annual arrests. These arrests are simply not a significant portion of law enforcement activity.
Let’s focus on the drug possession offenses (though the conclusions would not be affected materially by incorporating drug trafficking offenses). Not only are possession arrests the largest category of drug violations, they represent the class of offenses most affected by legalization proposals.
Whole thing here.
11:38 AM, Nov 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Europe is experiencing increased, and threatening, intrusions by Russian aircraft and:
NATO war planes have had to scramble 400 times this year in response ... a rise of 50 percent over last year, the new secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday.
As Reuters reports, there is plainly method at work here, since:
… the problem was not just where the Russians are flying but that they are not turning on their transponders or communicating. As such, the flights pose a risk to commercial air traffic, [Stoltenberg] said. "It is a pattern which we have not seen for many years and it is a pattern that reminds us of the way they conducted these kind of military air activities back in the time of the Cold War."
10:36 AM, Nov 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The bloom must surely be fading when, as Hadas Gold of Politico reports:
The White House is exasperated with the major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS and NBC -- for skipping out on President Barack Obama’s Thursday primetime address on his executive actions on immigration.
It has been a long six years and even when they try new material, the show seems stale, destined for low ratings and, then, cancellation and syndication.
Still, they will always have Facebook.
8:47 AM, Nov 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri defended President Obama's planned executive amnesty by saying it "doesn't" shred the Constitution:
Asked the MSNBC host, "What's your response to the Washington Post editorial that said that the president's frustration with Congress 'doesn't grant the president license to tear up the constitution'?"
"Well, it doesn't," Palmieri said as she laughed, "and that's not what he's doing. And whatever the steps he's going to take, you'll see, are well within his authority to do that and we'll have the legal justification to show that."
Palmieri, when asked the question again, went on to defend the president in a similar manner: "But it doesn't tear up the constitution. And you will see -- everyone will see that it doesn't."
6:16 AM, Nov 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former Virginia senator Jim Webb announced last night the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. Webb, a contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, made the announcement in a lengthy YouTube video posted on his website:
Interestingly, not once does Webb say which party primary he'll run in. But he served as a Democrat while in the Senate, so it's likely he'd run for that party's presidential nomination.
Yet Webb, in his announcement video, knocks his own party: "The Democratic Party used to be the place where people like these could come not for a handout but for an honest handshake, good full-time jobs, quality education, health care they can afford, and the vital, overriding belief that we’re all in this together and the system is not rigged."
Here's the full announcement statement: "I'm Jim Webb. I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to ask you to consider the most important question facing America today: Is it possible that our next President could actually lay out a vision for the country, and create an environment where leaders from both parties and from all philosophies would feel compelled to work together for the good of the country, despite all of the money and political pressure that now demands they disagree?
"As one who spent four years in the Reagan Administration but who served in the Senate as a Democrat, I believe it is possible. It is also necessary. We desperately need to fix our country, and to reinforce the values that have sustained us, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years. I hope you will consider joining me in that effort.
"Over the past few months thousands of concerned Americans from across the political spectrum have urged me to run for President. A constant theme runs through these requests. Americans want positive, visionary leadership that they can trust, at a time when our country is facing historic challenges. They’re worried about the state of our economy, the fairness of our complicated multicultural society, the manner in which we are addressing foreign policy and national security challenges, and the divisive, paralyzed nature of our government itself. They’re worried about the future. They want solutions, not rhetoric.
"I share every one of these concerns.
"I have proudly spent several periods in government but I’m not a career politician. I come from a family of “citizen soldiers.” My father served 26 years in the Air Force as a pilot and a pioneer in our missile programs. I learned early about the sacrifices a family makes when a member is repeatedly deployed, and also the fulfillment that comes from serving our country. My brother, my son and I all became Marines. I fought as an infantry Marine on one of the Vietnam War’s harshest battlefields. After leaving the Marine Corps I studied law and found a fulfilling career as an author and journalist. But again and again I came back to the personal fulfillment that can only come from public service.
9:35 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi picked Billy Joel over President Barack Obama.
"Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opted to appear at a star-studded event honoring Billy Joel rather than meet with President Obama on Wednesday night to discuss his plans for executive action on immigration," the Hill reports.
"The House minority leader was eyed among the crowd gathered at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington to celebrate the “Piano Man” singer receiving the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.
"John Mellencamp, Boyz II Men, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, LeAnn Rimes, Natalie Maines, and Gavin DeGraw were all poised to perform at the glitzy affair, being filmed for a PBS special airing next year. ...
"Obama will dine with 18 members of Congress on Wednesday night to discuss details of his actions, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest."
6:22 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The United State Senate voted down the Save Mary Landrieu Act of 2014 by one vote last night. Senator Landrieu had hoped to persuade her constituents in Louisiana that she could bring home the pork owing to her seniority and her savvy in the ways of Washington. She would get a pipeline bill passed into law; one that had been languishing in Washington for some six years during which nobody seemed terribly aware of her clout. The pipeline vote, though, would surely show them.
Facing a runoff election in early December and behind at the polls, Senator Landrieu had done her frenetic best. If she did not prove that she had clout in Washington, she showed the world how desperately she wanted to keep her job. Her party had been repudiated in the recent elections. Her President showed no particular inclination to sign her bill into law even if she could get it through the Senate. And her party had cut off the flow of funds into her re-election campaign.
Still, there is a reason why they dig those last ditches.
When it came time to vote, Landrieu was abandoned by several old friends and colleagues. Some with nothing to lose – like Mark Udall of Colorado who was recently defeated in a race for re-election – declined to do Landrieu the courtesy of voting against their party and their consciences. Kay Hagen, defeated in North Carolina, voted with Landrieu in a last stand of the lame ducks.
When the voting was done, Landrieu fell back on the old “I’m a fighter" routine. She said it had been a “fight worth having.”
5:00 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senator Jeff Sessions calls Barack Obama an "Emperor of the United States" now that the president is going ahead with executive amnesty.
"President Obama previously said he could not issue an executive amnesty because ‘I’m the President of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.’ Well, apparently we now have an ‘Emperor of the United States,’" Sessions writes in a statement.
"President Obama’s immigration order would provide illegal immigrants with the exact benefits Congress has repeatedly rejected: Social Security numbers, photo IDs and work permits—which will allow them to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans in every occupation. Congress must not allow this unconstitutional action. That means Congress should fund the government while ensuring that no funds can be spent on this unlawful purpose.”
4:19 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Congressional Republicans’ internal debate over how to respond to President Obama’s impending lawless executive amnesty is being characterized as a battle between “immigration hawks” and those who want “to show Republicans can govern.” But that description is inapt, and it does a disservice to the magnitude of the stakes. While the policy dispute is over immigration, this isn’t about policy. It should make little difference to congressional Republicans whether Obama were to use extralegal authority to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, on the one hand, or to unilaterally repeal Obamacare on the other. Either way, he would be tearing our constitutional fabric — and no policy is important enough to justify violating our constitutional forms to achieve it.
In the debate over slavery — a policy whose importance would be hard to surpass — the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis, in his wonderful Dred Scott v. Sandford dissent, refused to succumb to the temptation of prioritizing policy desires over our constitutional text and structure. As with the abortion debate in our own day, the Constitution didn’t decide the slavery question, and both men knew it. So while the Taney Court pretended that the Constitution decided that issue in favor of slavery, and while many abolitionists pretended that the Constitution decided the issue in opposition to slavery, both Lincoln and Curtis steadfastly insisted that both sides were in error: Both sides were prioritizing their own policy goals over what Lincoln called “the political religion of the nation.”
Lincoln and Curtis stood with the Constitution. Obama will not. The question is whether congressional Republicans will follow the example of the former or will become complicit in the actions of the latter. Will they courageously stand up to Obama, or will they decide that their own immediate political calculations are more important than defending the very document that gives them power?
Moreover, if Republicans want to show that they can govern, there is no more important element of governing than defending our governing charter. Our constitutional forms are not merely the means to an end; they are, to a large degree, the cause to which we owe our devotion. A party that will not defend the Constitution demonstrates in that refusal that it will not, or cannot, govern. Thankfully, enough congressional Republicans share a strong commitment to defending that document that they will likely pull the rest along.
Nearly half of Americans opposed.3:12 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows "nearly half" of Americans oppose President Obama's forthcoming executive action on immigration, and only a plurality of Latinos support the measure. The poll found 48 percent of Americans oppose the executive action, the details of which the president is expected to announce Thursday, while just 37 percent support it and 14 percent say they are unsure or have no opinion.
The poll found Democrats support the president's planned actions more so than Republicans and independents, but their support isn't near unanimous—just 63 percent of Democrats say they support it, while 11 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents agree. And just 43 percent of Latinos say they agree with the measure, with 37 percent opposed though, as NBC News notes, the sample size of 110 Latinos may be too small to render a precise reading on Latino popular opinion.
Read more about the survey here.
An August poll on immigration found a much higher percentage of Americans (71 percent) said they opposed the president "going it alone" on immigration.
2:37 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By TED R. BROMUND
On Thursday, English voters in the constituency of Rochester and Strood, in the country of Kent south-east of London, are likely to return Mark Reckless to Parliament as the UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) second MP. When Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron promised a month ago to throw “everything we can” at the campaign, this wasn’t the result he anticipated.
Like Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s first MP, Reckless is a Tory defector. Carswell quit Cameron’s party in late August and romped home with an increased UKIP majority in a by-election in Clacton, his sea-side Essex constituency. Carswell’s departure was met with understanding, if not quite forgiveness: personally well-likely, he was acting on oft-expressed convictions.
Reckless’s exit, by contrast, engendered real anger, coming as it did at the opening of the Conservative Party conference in September. In spite of his regular rebellions, Reckless had not established a reputation as a conviction politician. And even though Reckless had a 10,000 vote majority in 2010, his constituency had under old boundaries been Labour since 1997. As one staffer put it to me, quite a few Tory MPs have a personal grudge against Reckless, whom they believe wouldn’t have won his seat without their support on local doorsteps in 2010.
But Reckless’s former colleagues may have to get over it. The Conservatives had little hope of beating Carswell, but in September, there was a lot of brave talk about how the Party machine would crush Reckless. As it’s turned out, it’s the Tories who risk being crushed. Polls put the Conservative candidate, Kelly Tolhurst, at least 10 points behind Reckless. Many Tory MPs now have little enthusiasm for making their required campaigning visits to Rochester, and the Conservatives, instead of predicting victory, are trying to price in defeat. The main reason the Tories are not in full-scale revolt is that Labour is in the midst of its own crises.
On the surface, a Reckless victory would be a shock. Clacton is demographically UKIP’s best constituency; Rochester ranks 271st. And while Reckless has a reputation as a populist Euroskeptic, he won his greatest fame by missing a vote on the 2010 Budget because he was drunk. The Conservatives had good reason to believe that they could hold Rochester.
1:07 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tomorrow night, at 8 p.m. EST, President Obama will address the nation on his coming executive amnesty.
"Our immigration system has been broken for decades -- and every minute we fail to act, millions of people who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to live right by the law and contribute to our country," says the White House press secretary in a blog post.
"So tomorrow night, President Obama will address the nation to lay out the executive actions he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system. You can watch the President live tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET at WhiteHouse.gov/Live.
"This is a step forward in the President’s plan to work with Congress on passing common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. He laid out his principles for that reform two years ago in Del Sol High School in Las Vegas -- and that’s where he’ll return on Friday to discuss why he is using his executive authority now, and why Republicans in Congress must act to pass a long-term solution to immigration reform. ...
"So tune in tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET to learn what the President is doing to ensure that America will continue to be what it has always been: a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."
12:44 PM, Nov 19, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
No secret that the Republicans did well in the recent elections. Though pace Josh Earnest, not all that many people voted. Still … it has to be disturbing to him and his boss that, as David Wasserman of 538 reports:
When the 114th Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, House Republicans will boast their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president. If all leaders in the yet-to-be-called races hold their leads, Republicans will go from 234 seats to 247, a triumph that exceeds their “Drive to 245” goal. Not even Republicans anticipated they were in for such a good year.
The name “Herbert Hoover” is one that no national politician would like his associated with. Especially when linked to his party’s electoral fortunes.
But, then, Mr. Obama always said he wanted to be a big and transformative president.
Good job on that, anyway.
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