Thursday, December 12, 2019

Catastrophic government, indeed

Trump doubles down on tweet telling Democrat congresswomen to 'go back' to where they came from

The president continues to criticize the group on Twitter amid a firestorm from Democrats on the comment; John Roberts reports from the White House on the fallout.

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On the roster: Catastrophic government, indeed - Biden embraces Obama with health plan rollout - Biden still ridin’ high in head-to-head with Trump - Pelosi wants more spending in deal to lift debt limit - Smile and wave, boys

You’ve got to give it to the president. Most of the freshmen congresswomen he spent the weekend denouncing were indeed born in a country where the government is “a complete and total catastrophe.”

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Now, that’s not to say that the government of the United States is catastrophic compared to, say, Timor-Leste or Turkmenistan. But compared to even our recent past – and many other developed nations –there’s no way that any fair-minded American thinks the crackpot game of capture the flag that passes for a political system is anything less than a catastrophe.

As our Founders feared, and has been true before, energies of faction have dulled the interests of too many members of government to any purpose beyond their immediate advancement. “Complete and total catastrophe” sounds about right for such a conflagration of poltroons as that. 

The controversy of the moment, as you know already, is that the president told four congresswomen to go back to their native countries because they had no business criticizing the great government of the United States, that of the fiscal-cliff shutdown and the paper straw. These immigrants from what Trump deems lesser nations – real hitsoles, if you will – ought to love it or leave it. 

It is true that one quarter of the little-esteemed but endlessly discussed four-woman “Squad” led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born elsewhere. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia, but emigrated to the U.S. in 1992 when she was 12. But the other three lawmakers to whom the president referred were born and raised in the United States. But they are also all not white. 

This is one of Trump’s bottom-register moments. This will live with his fight with the Gold Star family, mockery of a disabled reporter and scorn for John McCain’s capture. And it is impossible for even ruthlessly pragmatic Republicans to defend since in addition to being nasty and nativist-sounding it’s just bad politics.

The Democratic Party was eating its own face. The “Squad” was out for blood against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Ocasio-Cortez said looked racist for opposing the demands of four women of color. The story was heating up, too. But Trump burst in telling U.S. citizens, ones who had been elected to the branch of government superior to his, to go back to their native lands.

Now, the offensiveness of telling Americans to go back to where they came from is probably not at all lost on the president. His first and third wives as well as his mother were all born abroad. But he also knows that the primary objective of our politics today is to see the suffering of one’s own enemies. 

In a government so sclerotic as this one, the intentional infliction of harm has surpassed true governance as a goal. And for Trump in this case, throwing more bombs means more chances for blowback.  

But how is Washington any different than any other medium to large American city today? What sets apart our capital from the rest of the country? 

Certainly not different from New York, where they couldn’t keep the lights on. Nor New Orleans where folks are underwater and crawling with reptiles. Nor Houston where they sell what isn’t real

And certainly, certainly not Los Angeles where the top female star in the movie business desperately apologized for not more fully acknowledging the problematic industry that “favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors” like her. Her offense was saying that she sometimes worried about politically correct casting because “art should be free of restrictions.”  

Heaven forfend!

Like Hollywood, Washington runs on outrage mobs too. Like Hollywood, Washington is packed with moral imbeciles waiting for social media feedback to tell them what they believe.

Incompetence, corruption and moral imbecility aren’t Washington problems. They’re American problems. 

Unfortunately, though, the rest of America needs Washington to do a little better. In fact, the idea of our system of government is that communities will send their best and brightest here. Instead, our leaders are mostly consumed with the pettiest, most personal, smallest kind of politics.

It’s certainly true that Trump has stepped on a rake with his ill-timed and ugly attack on the congresswomen. But the larger political problem for the incumbent president is that Americans are growing increasingly desperate for a government that isn’t “a complete and total catastrophe.”

“The first wish prompted by humanity is, that this severe trial may issue in such a revolution of their government as will establish their union, and render it the parent of tranquility, freedom and happiness…” – Alexander Hamilton and James MadisonFederalist No. 20

Hakai Magazine: “A résumé for the Netherlands would list water management and the development of advanced agricultural technology among its top skills. … It makes perfect sense, then, that the world’s first experimental floating dairy farm—the culmination of a seven-year, US $2.9-million effort—is sited in the industrial and warehousing area of Rotterdam’s active Merwehaven harbor. Late last month, handlers anxiously introduced 35 Meuse Rhine Issel cows, a breed native to the Netherlands, to the two-story floating platform. Worries that the cows would get seasick or be reluctant to cross the bridge onto the platform proved unfounded, and the animals have adjusted to the change of scenery and are producing milk on their new floating home. These bovines are trailblazers in the increasingly important quest to find new and better forms of sustainable urban agriculture, says Peter van Wingerden, a Dutch engineer and the founder of Beladon, the company behind the project.”

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Trump job performance
Average approval
: 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 51.2 percent
Net Score: -7 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.4 points 
[Average includes: NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 47% approve - 50% disapprove; CNN: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 49% disapprove.]

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Politico: “Democratic front-runner Joe Biden today will unveil a health plan that’s intended to preserve the most popular parts of Obamacare — from Medicaid expansion to protections for patients with pre-existing conditions — and build on them with a new government-run public insurance option. Biden would also empower Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, allow the importation of prescription drugs from abroad and extend tax credits to help tens of millions of Americans buy lower-priced health insurance. The plan — which the campaign says will cost $750 billion over a decade, to be paid for by reversing some of the Trump administration’s tax cuts — is less transformative than the ‘Medicare for All’ proposal advanced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and supported by some other Democrats, which would effectively do away with private insurance and shift all Americans to government-run health care. …[C]ampaign staff stressed that Biden wouldn’t settle for a watered-down compromise as president…”

Buttigieg gets warm embrace in Iowa - Des Moines Register: “Ten Democratic presidential candidates took the stage Sunday afternoon in 90-degree weather to address would-be Iowa caucusgoers, but only Pete Buttigieg got a standing ovation. The crowd of more than 1,100 who turned out for the annual Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Cedar Rapids demonstrated the most enthusiasm for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor, who said the 2020 presidential election is about winning the next era in American politics. ‘If we embrace a left-wing agenda, the president’s going to say we’re socialists and we’re for open borders. If we adopt a conservative agenda, the president’s going to say we’re socialists and we’re for open borders. So we might as well stand up for what we believe in and take it from there,’ Buttigieg said. … Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro was also well-received by the crowd.”

Top 2020 Dems won’t reverse Trump's Jerusalem embassy move - Axios: “Over the last week, Axios reached out to all of the top tier candidates, and not one of them — including former Vice President Joe Biden — would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv. Why it matters: Many prominent Democrats, including most of the presidential contenders, chastised Trump for moving the embassy to Jerusalem in 2017, stating that it would escalate tensions in the region and wipe out any chance for a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel. … In addition to Biden, Sens. Cory BookerAmy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand — as well as former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg — said they would not reverse Trump's decision. Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Julián Castro, declined to express an opinion on the matter…”

Bullock tries to make campaign finance reform his calling card - WaPo: “To describe what he would do as president in 2021, Steve Bullock harks back to the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, when the wealthy copper mining barons of Montana wielded political influence across the state. To rein in the copper kings, the state banned corporate spending in elections in 1912. ‘Served us well,’ the Montana governor said wistfully to a crowd of Democratic caucusgoers gathered at a local bar [in Sioux City, Iowa]… Money in politics is the signature campaign issue for Bullock, the 22nd to join the 25-candidate race for the Democratic presidential nomination. To Bullock, the most urgent issues on voters’ minds — income inequality, climate change, taxes, collective bargaining rights and more — stem from the lasting influence of moneyed interests. Bullock has been promoting this message across Iowa since joining the race in mid-May…”

NBC News: “President Donald Trump trails the top Democratic contenders in hypothetical matchups, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll’s first ballot tests of the 2020 general election. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the president by 9 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 42 percent — outside of the poll’s margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percentage points. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is ahead of Trump by 7 points, 50 percent to 43 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., holds a 5-point advantage, 48 percent to 43 percent. And Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is ahead by just 1 point, 45 percent to 44 percent — a jump ball. With more than 200 days until Iowa caucuses and more than 470 days until Election Day 2020, the poll is a very early snapshot of the general election, and much can change. But Trump is faring worse than Barack Obama at this same stage of his re-election race.”

Reuters: “U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that a two-year budget agreement with the Trump administration must include equal increases in defense and nondefense spending, plus additional money for a program intended to improve healthcare for military veterans. ‘We all agree on the need to address the debt limit, but we also must reach an agreement on spending priorities based upon the principle of parity as soon as possible,’ the top Democrat in the House of Representatives told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a July 13 letter. Pelosi’s office said it released the letter after she and Mnuchin spoke by phone on Saturday evening for 12 minutes. … ‘But it also must provide $9 billion in additional funds for the VA MISSION Act in fiscal 2020 and $13 billion in additional funds in 2021,’ she wrote. The VA Mission Act, which passed Congress with bipartisan support, seeks to revamp healthcare services provided through the Veterans Administration…”

Pelosi and Mnuchin trying to avoid fiscal meltdown - Fox News: “The Speaker of the House doesn’t talk to the Treasury Secretary on a Saturday night, then send him a letter, and, then blast out a press release, unless it’s urgent. But that’s what happened Saturday night. … The House Speaker has little use for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Multiple Congressional sources tell Fox that Mulvaney infuriated Democrats during the last set of bicameral, bipartisan meetings on the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill. Three weeks ago, a clearly agitated Pelosi told reporters she refused to ‘waste time’ on Mulvaney’s characterization of her remarks in the session. She also said that Mulvaney ‘has no credibility’ on the debt ceiling ‘whatsoever.’ … Still, Pelosi apparently prefers to use the phone to engage Mnuchin. And perhaps, the same is the case for Mnuchin when it comes to discourse with Pelosi.”

Cornyn re-election funds pass $9 million Texas Tribune

Trump children have very visible roles in 2020 reelection efforts - Politico

“Republicans have a huge advantage, not just with the bully pulpit, but they have one voice. We have to make sure all these voices add up to a clear overall Democratic perspective that can be communicated in nine-second sound bites. And that is tough.” – Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist and pollster, per the WaPo.

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RNZ: “Little blue penguins have been removed from under a sushi bar in front of Wellington [New Zealand] railway station for a second time. They were first spotted at dawn outside the Wellington railway station and took shelter under the nearby shop, Sushi Bi. Police said the ‘waddling vagrants were removed from their sushi stand refuge earlier [Monday] by Constable John Zhu’ after being told they were there about 6:30 am. The pair were temporarily detained by Wellington police before being released back into Wellington Harbour, they said. However, the owners of the shop tonight told RNZ the birds had again crossed busy traffic lanes between the harbour and the station to the sushi bar. The Department of Conservation was called in and removed the small birds for a second time this evening. DOC said they were monitoring the site as this breed of penguin would likely try to return to the site again and again, despite being moved on.”

“The great players now change cities and uniforms with carpetbagging alacrity and barely a look back. Think of players who are not just stars but superstars… Does even a real fan know who they play for today?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Weekly Standard on April 13, 1998. 

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

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