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Obama at a loss on Ferguson

President to discuss situation with civil rights leaders, police


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Buzz Cut:
• Obama at a loss on Ferguson
• Congress returns as cliff looms
• Hillary’s love for temporary amnesty may mean trouble
• Baier Tracks: Tea leaves tell of Pentagon pick
• ‘Since then, we have not actually seen the squirrel…’

President Obama
’s admirers continue to call for him to go to Ferguson, Mo. to make a “powerful, nuanced, careful case” on the subject of “relations between African Americans and police departments.” Yes, but what would he say? Unless the president has a proposed law or action to take on the subject, jawboning on the subject seems very unlikely to change many minds on the subject. If the much more fraught case of Trayvon Martin couldn’t change the national discourse, how is the Ferguson storyline going to do it? Obama’s supporters have become kind of like Steely Dan aficionados, believing that if the unconvinced will just listen to “Bodhisattva” just one more time, they too will be moved by the sound. But that’s not how it works. Unless the president has something new to say, he is unlikely to get a new hearing from a skeptical nation. And based on the president’s schedule today, there’s not much new to come.

[NYT Pentagon Correspondent Helene Cooper on NBC News discussing race riots: “As long as black people continue to feel that you cannot walk down the street without coming under suspicion, this anger is going to continue.”]

Shiny object alert - The president is slated for a full day of symbolic meetings on the issue of law enforcement in minority communities, including a cabinet meeting addressing the subject of “militarization” of police departments. The topic has political appeal across the spectrum, but that doesn’t speak to what protestors are shutting down malls and highways at rush hour about. The claim from the Ferguson protesters is that police can kill black men with impunity and that “black lives don’t matter.” Obama is talking past those calling for action on that front. The militarization argument might come into play on the response to the protests, but certainly not their underlying cause. That is raw, divisive and cannot be addressed with a single executive order or even a single bill. Obama will also hold meetings with civil rights leaders and then law enforcement figures. But again, the question remains: To what end?

[One of the prosed solutions for ethnic tensions between officers and citizens is to have more black officers. But as Heather Mac Donald has observed, some of the worst civil rights abuses have come from majority-black departments like New Orleans and Detroit.]

That’s soooo 2008… - The expectation that Obama is a magical being whose words and mere presence can bring healing and calm – a misconception he aggressively encouraged in his earlier days – create an impossible situation for the president. As long as there are those who believe that if Obama could just give the right speech and say the right sequence of words that these problems would abate, the president will always somehow be falling short of the mark. In reality, the president doesn’t have many options when it comes to how local police and the residents of crime-wracked neighborhoods interact. The time for him to give ‘major speeches” to change the national discussion faded with his early clout as president. Now, he can talk but would be hard pressed to make the nation listen. And unless there is some policy prescription the president has roused himself to offer, this will be no exception.

Congress is back and so is the S-word, as in “shutdown”.  Lame duck lawmakers face a packed agenda and a looming Dec. 11 government funding deadline. In an atmosphere tainted by President Obama’s executive action on immigration, Republican have been considering countermoves ranging from leveraging a shutdown – pushed by conservatives who want to defund Obama’s amnesty edict – to full-funding through the current fiscal year, which party leaders say showcases the GOP’s ability to govern. There’s even a blended option afoot: Incoming House Budget Committee Rep. Tom Price last week floated a strategy that would fund most of the government through September 2015, like an omnibus, but would only fund immigration-related services for a few months.  Price sees it as a way to avoid a government shutdown, while blocking President Obama’s executive action.  With the clock ticking and crucial items like renewal of tax breaks and defense funding on the to-do list, whichever tactical moves lawmakers employ will have little time to play out.

[While Jonah Goldberg and A.B. Stoddard think the move unlikely, Goldberg made the point that if Republicans plan to use a shutdown as leverage, better to do so now than kick-the-can down the road. Watch their Power Play discussion with Chris Stirewalt, here.]

Power Play: Cuellar on executive action - Immigration reform advocates have been rejoicing over President Obama’s executive action which temporarily shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Critics argue that this is mass amnesty similar to action President Reagan took in 1986. Chris Stirewalt sits down with Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, to discuss the ramifications of the administration’s actions. Watch today’s Power Play here.

[Fiscal Cliff countdown: The continuing resolution funding the government in the absence of a budget expires in 10 days.]

National Journal: “Hillary Clinton’s support of deferred deportation of millions of undocumented workers might help the Democratic Party's putative presidential nominee win over Latinos in 2016. But among the voters most responsible for the Democrats’ midterm wipeout this year, it could very well make things worse—and therein lies Clinton's dilemma.”

Patrick: Hillary’s 2016 narrative “off-putting to regular voters” - The Hill: “Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) on Sunday warned against making Hillary Clinton the “inevitable” 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Patrick said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that ceding the Democratic nomination to the former secretary of State could turn off the electorate. Clinton “has been an extraordinary public servant and would be a terrific candidate for president. But I think that the narrative that it's inevitable is off-putting to regular voters.” He said that voters perceive "inevitability as entitlement. And the American people want and ought to want their candidates to sweat for the job. You know, to actually make a case for why they're the right person at the right time.” The outgoing state executive also said he would not make a run for the White House in 2016. “I've thought about it, but no, I can't get ready for 2016,” Patrick said.”

Maybe you would like to try “Nordic pine” or “fresh linen” - The Hill: “Hillary Clinton has lost the ‘new car smell’ she might need to win the presidency in 2016, said Democratic pollster Doug Schoen on Sunday. ‘The president said [last week] that the next president needs … a new car smell, and it’s pretty hard for me to say … that she [Hillary] has a new car smell,’ Schoen told radio host
John Catsimatidis in an interview to air Sunday on New York's 970 AM…”

FT: Hillary’s bridge to White House looks “rickety” - Financial Times: “As it stands, whatever coalition is expected to carry Mrs. Clinton over the finishing line is likely to result from a calculated process of addition. In politics, winning is ultimately about ideas. In the absence of new ones, Mrs. Clinton’s bridge to the White House looks rickety.”

[Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be the featured speaker at the League of Conservation Voters dinner today at the New York Hilton Midtown.]

Texas Gov. Rick Perry tops a new measure of how Iowans size-up potential GOP 2016 contenders, by the Des Moines Register. Fifteen Republican potential presidential candidates are ranked by the number of events they’ve held in Iowa since the 2012 elections as well as their support in an October DMR/Bloomberg poll, The survey’s results show that “a greater volume of appearances doesn't necessarily signal greater support.”

Open Republican field draws long-shot bids - WSJ: “Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, out of office nearly eight years, will soon make his fourth trip to early-voting New Hampshire. Ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, whose last campaign was in 2002, is talking to donors. And former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Carly Fiorina spent the latter half of 2014 connecting with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, among other states.”

Good news for those who crate pregnant sows in New Jersey - Des Moines Register: “Republican Gov. Chris Christie [N.J.] has vetoed a politically charged bill that would have banned the use of certain pig crates in his state, a move many observers see as aimed at appeasing Iowa voters ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run.”

You probably don’t know about Fred Rose, but if you love American music, you owe him a debt. After nearly two decades spent trying to launch his own career as a jazz pianist and songwriter in Chicago, New York and Hollywood, Rose headed south to Nashville in 1942. There, he partnered with Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff to establish the first music publishing house devoted to country music. Famous for square dealing and understanding country artists, it quickly became a major industry force. But Rose’s skills at songwriting and developing artists proved so formidable that within three years, he brought his son aboard to handle the business side. Thank God he did. One of Roses’ first projects was Hank Williams, who early on showed his own gifts as a songwriter. Their partnership helped bring forth much of Williams catalogue and make Williams an icon before his untimely death in 1953. Rose’s list of songwriting credits includes eternal favorites like “No One Will Ever Know” and many more, including several crossover hits. Rose would die from a heart attack on this date in 1954, leaving an unparalleled legacy in the business and art of country music. Rose was posthumously inducted into the inaugural class of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, along with Williams. Read Rose’s biography from the hall here but by all means, listen to one of his greatest gifts to music: “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42 percent//Disapprove – 53.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27 percent//Wrong Track – 66.7 percent

Freedom Partners Action Fund is out with a new ad supporting Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in the final push before his runoff against Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The ad, linking Landrieu to President Obama’s failed policies, saying, “You know there’s lots of reasons, Sen. Mary Landrieu hasn’t earned six more years. She’s been in Washington so long she calls it home…A vote for Mary Landrieu is a vote for President Obama and his failed liberal policies.”

[Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La. face each other in one final debate tonight in Baton Rouge.]

See you later, alligator - The Shreveport [La.] Times: “Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-La.] has turned to churches, community leaders and her Democratic colleagues in the Senate in a last-ditch rush to rally her base and raise money as she fights for her political life ahead of a Dec. 6 runoff election in Louisiana. The scramble reflects a harsh reality — that national Democrats seem to no longer believe Landrieu has much of a chance against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy…”

“After Michelle Flournoy and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., took their names out of the running to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel there are new indications about where President Obama may be heading with this choice. Former Hagel deputy chief of staff Wendy Anderson announced today that she is leaving her new job at the Commerce Department.  “Why is that an important clue about which way the President is leaning on Defense Secretary?” people might ask.  Well, Anderson was also served as the chief of staff for former Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, floated along with Flournoy and Reed as a possible Hagel replacement. In her goodbye email to colleagues at Commerce, according to Defense One, Anderson wrote, “The decision to move to Commerce represented an exciting opportunity to branch into new territory. However, in light of the complex and vexing national security challenges facing the country, and with the knowledge that my deepest and most abiding commitments are to our security and defense, I have decided to return to that calling.” Odds are Anderson goes back to work for her old boss, Ash Carter at the Pentagon. Carter is well-respected on the Hill and probably won’t have problems getting through Senator John McCain’s Armed Services Committee. – Bret Baier

Float on -
“One name that’s been floated around, he is not going to be happy to hear this, is Colin Powell…Somebody who served -- as the chief military adviser in the first Gulf war, when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of State, somebody who’s been the national security advisor.” – Bob Woodward on “Fox News Sunday”

But just in case, he’ll leave his resume right here… - The Hill: “Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on Saturday said he is ‘open’ to replacing outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. ‘I'm open to it, but I don't anticipate being asked,’ Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, told KIRO-TV in Washington. ‘I like the job I have,’ he added. ‘I love representing the 9th District. If it came to that, it would be a difficult decision.’”

A persistent set of problems for ObamaCare relates to missed expectations of incentives. One of the assumptions of the law was that beneficiaries would seek to save money each year by shopping around for the lowest premiums, creating incentives for insurance companies, like airlines, to offer lower rates. But your family doctor is not a flight to Des Moines and switching policies is not as simple as logging on to Kayak. The New Yorker explains how flawed thinking from the law’s architects could further hamper promised savings: “When switching costs are high, it’s much easier for companies to raise prices. If you have a storage unit, you may well have been lured by an attractive monthly rate, only to find that it soon started rising by significant increments. (What are you going to do? Move all your stuff?) Similarly, even though there are lots of affordable new Obamacare plans this year, many of last year’s are raising premiums substantially.”

[In the latest Gallup poll, 33 percent of Americans say they have delayed medical care for themselves or family members due to the costs.]

Low turnout for ObamaCare small business program - WaPo: “A year after the Obama administration temporarily shelved an unfinished part of intended for small businesses, it has opened with reports of only modest technical flaws, but with doubts that it will soon benefit the millions of workers at little companies with inadequate health insurance or none at all…”

On a bookstore shopping photo-op Saturday, President Obama spied a display of a book by NBC News anchor Chuck Todd with a cover featuring a photo of the president walking away with his eyes downcast, “Let’s see what Chuck has to say,” the president said as he leaned closer. “The Stranger, Barack Obama in the White House,” he read aloud. “How is he already writing a book?” Malia asked her father, with a smile. “Looking lonely. Looking alienated. Oh no. He’s so sad,” the president remarked amusedly. “It looks like a sad book,” Malia agreed. “They tried to find the saddest photo,” a woman at the counter chimed in. “I know,” President Obama said, chuckling. Perhaps if Todd had a more nourishing diet…

Recess was cut short at one British elementary school thanks to an “unusually aggressive” grey squirrel reports the Daily Mail. Students were escorted back into the building after a teacher at the Hertfordshire school spotted the rambunctious rodent wreaking havoc on the playground. No children were hurt in the incident, though one staff member received a scratch. Head teacher Amrit Bal-Richards is monitoring the situation though the ferocious fellow hasn’t been seen since, saying, “The incident was a couple of weeks ago, since then we have not actually seen the squirrel. Safeguarding children is paramount. It is uncommon for a squirrel to actually demonstrate aggressive behavior but we are aware of the situation.” The school held an assembly for students to discuss the incident and what to do in the future if squirrels or other animals become agitated or threatened.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.