Thursday, December 31, 2015

You are the difference

Dear John,

You're standing in the way of a liberal takeover.

You and your fellow conservatives will make America the nation our Founders envisioned.

2016 is pivotal to America's future -- and you are the difference.

Please make your year-end gift to Heritage by midnight tonight:

Thank you for all you do for the conservative movement, and have a very happy New Year.


Jim DeMint

The Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation | 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE | Washington, D.C. 20002 | (800) 546-2843

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What Ends with a Bang Begins with a Jolt

Dear Friend,

Really, how can a conservative start the day, or get through it, without having read Morning Jolt, Jim Geraghty's breakfast-time tour-de-force? Technically, MJ is not part of NRO, but Jim kindly offers chunks of it in The Corner and, when appropriate, as articles. So, that said, Jim IS most definitely part of NRO, and a darned big part of it at that. Pick a reason: his ace reporting, his even ace-ier political analysis, his noon-time podcast homage to the (hic!) good old days, Three Martini Lunch. So let's put a period on NR's end-of-the-year Webathon, and our little experiment in the Top 10 reasons you should support your favorite conservative website, by designating Jim Geraghty (who does a terrific people's eyebrow!), as Reason #1.


Of course, we would be amiss if we did not interrupt this commercial with a commercial for Jim's acclaimed new book, Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Raise a Family, and Other Manly Advice-Raise-Family-Advice.

And we would be amiss if we did not tell the truth: We dedicated the final 10 days of 2015 to raising $25,000 to fund a part of NRO's critical Social Media Outreach Project. Those funds will afford us the means to bring NR's all-important conservative wisdom to hundreds of thousands more Americans in 2016. Well, we've surpassed our goal: Nearly 500 NRO fans, God bless them all, have donated over $26,000 towards this project.

But if we may: The $25,000 goal was arbitrary as heck. Frankly, we could use ten times that amount. But being practical, let's now up it to $30,000, which we are fast approaching. If we make the 30 grand, great -- and we'll treat it as an affirmation of your gratitude for the Morning Jolt.

We hope Jim won't be crushed if we don't hit it. And we hope you won't be crushed in 2016 if NR has to pull its punches because we lack enough support to keep us pumping out the fire-hose of high-quantity / top-quality content that is NRO's hallmark, and the reason for its influence and consequence.

If you haven't yet given to the end-of-the-year Webathon, if you love NRO, if you live on NRO, now is the time for you to step up and help. How about $25, $50, $100? Even a sawbuck?! Come on -- you can do that!

Whatever you do, you can accomplish that right here, right now.

We knew you would!

On behalf of all my colleagues, I thank you for your abiding love of NR, and wish you a happy and a healthy New Year, and the blessings of God on you and yours, and on this great country of ours, and on all America means to all that is good for His Creation.

With deep gratitude,

Jack Fowler
National Review

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My End-of-the-Year Award Picks

National Review
If this email is difficult to read, view it on the web.
December 30, 2015
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty

Welcome to the last Morning Jolt of 2015! The Jolt will return Monday, January 4.

If you're not listening to the Three Martini Lunch daily podcast, you're missing Radio America's Greg Corombos and I pick our annual end-of-the-year award winners, inspired by the categories from the old black-tie McLaughlin Group episodes.

Most underrated political figure of 2015: I think everybody underrated Matt Bevin, the incoming governor of Kentucky. There was some reason for skepticism; this was the guy who took on Mitch McConnell with great fanfare in the 2014 Senatorial primary, and just got squashed. Eh, here we go again, another guy who's successful in business, is pretty conservative, thinks politics is easy, and finds running for office is harder than it looks. He runs for governor in a four-way race, wins by 83 votes. At this point, everybody's ready to write him off.

And darn it if Bevin doesn't turn out to be a good candidate. And one determined to heal old wounds as quickly as possible:

The video, with the 1960s song "Happy Together," playing in the background, opens with Bevin awaking wearing a "Team Mitch" t-shirt and then stripping it off at the behest of his wife who is doing laundry -- only to reveal a second "Team Mitch" shirt underneath it.

The video shows Bevin with numerous "Team Mitch" stickers on his SUV and calling McConnell to give him intelligence on Sen. Rand Paul's next filibuster -- saying that his sources tell him that Paul is headed to the Senate floor with a pocket full of energy bars and a custom made bladder bag.

There's a scene of him smiling and reading "Republican Leader," McConnell's authorized biography, and getting a "Team Mitch" logo tattooed on his left arm. At one point, you see Bevin's half of a phone conversation with McConnell in which he's acting like a teenage lover -- "You hang up first. ... No. You hang up."

Greg's pick: Donald Trump.

Most overrated political figure: Jeb Bush. Back in January, I wrote:

Let's not even get into the immigration, Common Core, business ties, or family-dynasty issues yet. The boss recently labeled Jeb Bush "a pre-Obama conservative" -- an accurate way of describing his gubernatorial record. But the pre-Obama era of American politics feels like a long time ago. Republican primary voters, particularly conservative ones, think that the Obama presidency is the worst calamity to hit America in their lifetimes, and fear it is doing permanent damage to our national values, identity, and standing in the world. GOP primary voters are going to want a fighter; do they feel like Jeb Bush has been leading the fight against Obama?

Now I got a lot wrong -- I didn't even have Trump on my list in January, and I had Perry, Walker, and Jindal in my first tier. But ultimately, Jeb Bush never gave any impression that he was a fighter, and that kept him from ever really getting off the ground this cycle.

Greg's pick: Pope Francis, for barely mentioning abortion in his U.S. visit, while going on at length about illegal immigration and climate change.

Most honest political figure: Jim Webb told Democrats a lot of things they didn't want to hear in his lone appearance in a presidential debate. He said people deserve the right to defend themselves. He said that we live in a dangerous world, and have to be concerned about the rise of China. He said, "All lives matter, not just 'black lives matter.'" He told Bernie Sanders that the Congress would never pay for all of his expensive crazy ideas. He said the enemy he was proudest to have was the Viet Cong who tried to kill him.

And for that, he got tossed out of the party.

Greg's pick: Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. See more below.

Sorry to see you go: In the sorry to see you go from this mortal coil category, I selected Fred Thompson. We can argue about whether he would have done better than McCain in 2008, and there are tales that he didn't really want to bother with all the hassle and aggravation of running for president, which somehow makes him even more likeable. If you feel like we've gone wrong, the fact that Fred Thompson never really got off the ground in 2008 might have been a leading indicator.

Greg's pick: M. Stanton Evans.

Rising star of 2015: Greg mentioned Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse as the most honest yesterday; I'm putting him in this category today. His short video message about the San Bernadino attacks, recorded from the site, was pitch-perfect. He's a serious conservative. In an earlier podcast we talked about him running for president someday, and I'm told that generated some eye-rolling in his office, but I would say keep an eye on this guy.

Greg's pick: Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Fading into oblivion: It hurts me to say this, but Scott Walker. He may go on to be the next Tommy Thompson, a serious multi-term governor with a long-lasting legacy in his state, but he may have had the worst year. His stature, standing in the party fell so fast, and just think, it wasn't a scandal, it wasn't any particularly devastating gaffe, it wasn't some serious policy misstep. He just didn't speak up enough in the debates and didn't say much that was memorable when he did, and his campaign's burn rate was unsustainable. One of the themes of these end-of-the-year awards is that the GOP donors, small-dollar donors, poll respondents, and others dismissed good presidential candidate options and spent way too much time enraptured with bad ones.

Greg's pick: John Boehner.

Worst scandal: The hacking and compromised security at the Office of Personnel Management, where 22 million current and former federal employees had their personnel files hacked. The hackers who stole security dossiers from the agency also got the fingerprints of 5.6 million federal employees.

The working assumption of investigators is that China is building a huge database of information about American officials or contractors who may end up entering China or doing business with it. This was called "America's cyber 9/11" and it got about a third of the media attention it deserved. Yes, OPM director Karen Achuelletta eventually resigned, but there was no sense of accountability or even anger from the White House. It's just the incompetent, bumbling way our government operates in 2015.

Greg's pick: Hillary's private e-mail server.

Best political theater: Most of the debates, with the exception of the CNBC one, have been good and solid.

Greg's pick: The Republican candidates pushing back against the questions at the CNBC debate.

Worst political theater: I could have gone with the CNBC debate, but I'm going to go with the Democratic debate structure. They're only having four before Iowa votes, and two of them were on Saturday nights. To quote Bob Odenkirk, it is a travesty, it is a sham, it is a mockery . . . it is a traveshamockery.

Greg: The rainbow-flag lighting on the White House the night after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

Best political idea: I wanted to say "Speaker Ryan," but the omnibus was a giant disappointment. But the decision to move back the start of the caucuses from January to February, and move up the convention, is probably a good move, in that it has a good chance of removing an obstacle that hurt Dole in 1996 and Romney in 2012 -- a long stretch of a cash-poor candidate getting defined through negative ads.

Greg: Removing Brian Williams.

Worst idea: A lot of competition. I'm going to conclude that the Republican donor class, small donors and poll respondents rejecting some of the most experienced candidates is one. The debate stages being cluttered with the no-hopers (George Pataki, Jim Gilmore) and reheated leftovers (Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee) was a bad idea, too.

Greg's pick: The Corker-Cardin deal on the Iran agreement.

Boldest tactic: Trump going out and saying what he thinks. I don't always agree with it, but there is such a hunger for authenticity that a significant portion of the GOP base devoured comments that were controversial, offensive, off-color, and profane because they felt he meant it.

Greg's pick: Hawaiian Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard's honesty, criticizing the administration on its ISIS policy and the DNC for how it's running the debates.

Most over-reported story: I'm going to say any time another Republican candidate -- or Democratic candidate, for that matter, is asked what they think of Donald Trump. I'm not arguing that Trump isn't newsworthy; I'm arguing that Trump got this two-level media domination for much of the year -- first, some of the cable networks would just cover his speeches live, a level of coverage they gave no other Republican. Then when another Republican finally got a chance to be interviewed, they were often asked to respond to Trump's latest statement. They weren't asked about their own ideas or agenda; it was entirely setting them up as Trump critics.

This happened to a certain extent with the Democrats, too. On one of the Sunday shows in December, Stephanopoulos is interviewing Bernie Sanders, the first question was, "What do you think about what Trump just said?"

Honorable mention: Caitlyn Jenner.

Greg's pick: Cecil the lion.

Most under-reported story: My colleague Stephen Miller pointed out that while the coverage of Bernie Sanders mainly focused on the big crowds and enthusiasm, and very little attention was given to what he was actually saying. Sanders, as a routine part of his campaign stump speech was lamenting that the real unemployment level is 10.3 percent, and that youth unemployment, including African-American youth unemployment, is hovering around 50 percent; wages are stagnant, and people feel like the American Dream is dead.

The portrait that Bernie Sanders paints is one where Obama's economic policies have utterly failed. And while Sanders may be putting the darkest spin on things, his general portrait is pretty accurate. There's a reason 70 percent of Americans think the recession is still going on.

Greg's pick: The Planned Parenthood videos.

Best story: It was a rebuilding year for great stories. I greatly prefer living in a country that is seriously debating what to do about ISIS to living in one that is ignoring it.

Greg's pick: Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, declaring, "This is not a day care, it's a university!"

People of the Year: Sometimes Time magazine will go with a group of individuals that encompass a particular theme -- "The Whistleblowers" etc., and so I went with three figures who I felt represented exactly what the country needed at this tumultuous time. Seven years of Obama have steered the country far to the left, and then crashed it on the rocks. We're economically stagnant, our federal bureaucracy is bloated and unresponsive, we're depressed, and living in fear. We need that right combination of principled conservatism and a serious record of reforms, firsthand knowledge of how to steer a government away from the left and to government's true priorities. This year, the three men who best exemplified the change we need were . . . Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal.

Now, there's this small detail that the GOP donor class, poll respondents, and everyone else rejected those three. But I think that says more about the poor judgment and bad criteria of the party today than these governors and their records.

Greg's pick: The family members of the Charleston shooting victims who spoke in the courtroom and told the shooter they forgave him, demonstrating the depth and breadth of their Christian faith.

Turncoat of the year:

Dear conservative media,

I don't care that you've found a teenager who says conservative things. I don't even care if they're particularly eloquent. They're teenagers; they're not supposed to be dragged into the dog-eat-dog world of politics. And teenagers are stupid and fickle, and I know this, because I was once a fickle and stupid teenager, and chances are, so were you. So why would some of us choose to turn somebody like C.J. Pearson into a spokesman for us overnight? Why would we be surprised when we see something like . . .

Just over a month ago C.J. Pearson was a 13-year-old conservative social media sensation, booming support for Sen.Ted Cruz. Now, he has not only disavowed conservatism, he is the new youthful voice of the Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign.

Pearson shot to conservative stardom in February with a viral video questioning President Barack Obama's love for the United States. It gave Pearson a massive social media following, which Cruz targeted in September when he named Pearson the chairman of Teens for Ted.

Pearson's stuck with the Cruz campaign from Sept. 8 to Oct. 31. He abruptly left the position, asserting that Cruz "wasn't doing enough to address the issues important to young people like student loan debt and youth unemployment."

Let me be clear: C.J. Pearson is not the turncoat; the people who thought a teenager should be a political celebrity turned their backs on the value of experience and everything we know about human nature.

Greg's pick: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell narrowly beat out John Kerry.

2016 resolution: I think I want to see things firsthand more in 2016. I feel like we get things through filters, and the past two years have shown polling, even polls of likely voters shortly before Election Day, can be wildly off-base. It feels like rumors, disinformation, and half-truths rocket around the web and world faster than ever before, and we need to be aware of the dangers of walking around in our own bubbles.

Happy New Year!

ADDENDA: Good news, Trump fans: at least one Geraghty is out in the press, saying nice things about him. If you don't like the Morning Jolt's tone on Trump, take solace in the fact that the Vice Chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party is appearing in videos of the [Hilton Head] Island Packet, talking about his strengths.

Trump and Sanders Break the Mold for Populist Politicians
In Iowa, Whispers of an Anti-Cruz (and Pro-Rubio) Alliance

Did the White House Use the NSA to Spy on Congress about the Iran Deal?
Obama's 2015 Foreign-Policy Neverland Invites Three New Crises in 2016
Who's Killing the Mentally Ill?
A New Era in South Korean–Japanese Relations Begins
By Frank J Fleming
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