**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: What would you tell the Framers? - Final effort in Senate to stave off ObamaCare crisis - Moore uses immigration platform against Strange - Trump attorney to face Senate Intel Committee - And Versailles, Ky. is interested in any unused palaces
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THE FRAMERS?
If they had to do it over again knowing what America would be like in 2017, what would the Framers of the Constitution have done differently?
The United States today observes Constitution Day, and in many schools across the country, students are getting one of the few doses of civics education students will receive all year.
The celebration is a brave attempt beat back the stifling tide of civics ignorance in which our country is currently drowning. But much of the focus of those who even note the holiday will be on basic education concerning our founding charter.
And for a consumerist nation like ours, much of that will dwell on the rights enshrined in the Constitution, which are entirely cast in terms of limits on federal power to interfere in natural rights.
When we celebrate the Constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights, we often discuss freedom of expression, the right to bear arms, the rights of the accused and other blessings of liberty.
Less discussed, however, is the more important part of the original document.
Remember that the Framers and the members of the early congresses hotly debated the question of a Bill of Rights, with many arguing that by even expressing particular limits on federal authority, subsequent generations of Americans would come to assume that the government’s authority extended to everything not specifically enumerated. (You can’t say they were entirely wrong…)
What makes the Constitution the most successful and most important document in the history of human governance is not the first ten amendments but rather the elegant, sometimes infuriating system of government it established.
Accordingly, most of the amendments to the Constitution after the Bill of Rights were not about individual liberties but rather how the government itself would operate.
Think of it this way, the Framers were operating under the assumptions laid out in the American Creed that every citizen was equal (though it took more than 150 years to make good on that one), and that their rights descended naturally from God, not the provision of any government.
If the rights come from God, then the purpose of the new government was to find a way to balance freedom and order in such a fashion that those liberties could reach their fullest potential. The revolutionary idea of republican government meant avoiding the perils of rule by elites and the tyranny of the mob.
After all these years, it is clear that no one before or since has been so successful at charting that narrow passage. But we also know that somethings in the organization of our government seem inadequate these days.
So what would you do, dear readers?
In honor of Constitution Day, we are asking for your proposed changes to the Constitution. Tell us what amendment you would offer and why. Please be concise and try to make an argument that would have broad appeal. Send your submissions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
How would you attack career politics, extreme partisanship, presidential succession, taxation authority or whatever you think ails us most? Lay it on us.
We will share the best and most representative answers in Tuesday’s edition. We look forward to a robust discourse.
THE RULEBOOK: WHY NOT BOTH?
“There is something so far-fetched and so extravagant in the idea of danger to liberty from the militia, that one is at a loss whether to treat it with gravity or with raillery…” –Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29
TIME OUT: WORD UP
London [U.K.] Telegraph: “Samuel Johnson, who wrote the English language's most comprehensive dictionary in the 1750s, has been honoured by a Google Doodle on what would have been his 308th birthday. … Johnson, born in 1709, spent nine years working on A Dictionary of the English Language, which was published in 1755. It remained the definitive English dictionary until the Oxford English Dictionary was completed in 1928. … Once finished it was as much of a work of art as one of reference, full of witty definitions. Here are some examples: Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words; Oats: A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people; Pension: An allowance made to anyone without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at
your tips, comments or questions.
Trump net job-approval rating: -17 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points
[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]
FINAL EFFORT IN SENATE TO STAVE OFF OBAMACARE CRISIS
Politico: “Obamacare repeal is on the brink of coming back from the dead. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his leadership team are seriously considering voting on a bill that would scale back the federal government’s role in the health care system and instead provide block grants to states, congressional and Trump administration sources said. It would be a last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare before the GOP’s power to pass health care legislation through a party-line vote in the Senate expires on Sept. 30. No final decision has been made, but the GOP leader has told his caucus that if the bill written by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has the support of at least 50 of the 52 GOP senators, he will bring it to the floor, Graham and Cassidy say. That would give Republicans one more crack at repealing the Affordable Care Act, a longtime party pledge.”
Congress looks to crack down on Facebook, Google - Axios: “Members of Congress in both parties have begun exploring possible legislative action against Facebook and other tech giants, setting the stage for a potentially massive battle in the midterm election year of 2018. … The shift against the companies has been sudden, and is one of the biggest stories of the year. Republicans are likely to emphasize the national security and homeland security aspects to reining in the tech companies. … Republican lawmakers, seeing a massive opening on a sexy issue, have begun consulting experts who have studied ways Congress could act. On the Democratic side, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is actively working to develop legislation to improve disclosure for online political ads.”
Senate to pass Defense bill - AP: “The Senate is poised to pass a defense policy bill that pumps $700 billion into the Pentagon budget, expands U.S. missile defenses in response to North Korea's growing hostility and refuses to allow excess military bases to be closed. The legislation is expected to be approved on Monday by a wide margin in another burst of bipartisanship amid President Donald Trump's push for cooperation with congressional Democrats. The 1,215-page measure defies a number of White House objections, but Trump hasn't threatened to veto the measure. The bill helps him honor a pledge to boost military spending by tens of billions of dollars. Sen. John McCain … has guided the bill toward passage over the last week as he railed against Washington gridlock and political gamesmanship.”
MOORE USES IMMIGRATION PLATFORM AGAINST STRANGE
WashEx: “Roy Moore is using the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's support for Sen. Luther Strange to tar his opponent as someone who favors amnesty for illegal immigrants as a new public opinion poll shows him losing ground in the special election for an Alabama Senate seat. Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, asked supporters for help in an email fundraising appeal to fend off the chamber, which he described as ‘the establishment's top advocate for illegal immigration and amnesty in America.’ The chamber has launched a direct-mail and television advertising campaign in the state on behalf of Strange. The amnesty charge against Strange came after recent interviews in which Moore appeared uninformed about federal immigration policy, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump said he would rescind in March.”
Moore could be a nightmare for McConnell & Co. - Politico: “Three words are striking fear in Senate Republicans these days: ‘Senator Roy Moore.’ The bomb-throwing former Alabama Supreme Court justice has vaulted to a hefty lead in Alabama's Senate special election, lambasting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell every step of the way. A Moore victory promises to make McConnell's tenuous 52-seat majority even more precarious, allies of the majority leader warn, potentially imperiling tax reform, raising the risk of default on the nation's debt or even derailing routine Senate business.”
Dem Northam trouncing Gillespie in Virginia Gov. cash race - Richmond Times Dispatch: “Democrat Ralph Northam raised $7.2 million in July and August, compared with $3.7 million for Republican Ed Gillespie, giving the lieutenant governor a cash advantage for the TV ad wars ahead of the Nov. 7 election for governor. Northam had $5.6 million on hand at the end of August, to $2.6 million for Gillespie, according to the Virginia Public Access Project… That erases Gillespie’s financial lead at the end of June, after he and Northam had fended off rivals in primaries. … Northam’s cash advantage is likely to reshape that balance with just over 50 days left in the contest.”
House Dems August fundraising hits highest ever - NBC News: “The campaign arm of House Democrats has posted its highest off-year August fundraising haul ever, the group told NBC News. … The DCCC raised $6.26 million in August, compared to $4.15 million for August 2015, the last comparable year before a midterm election. Overall, the DCCC has raised $72.46 million in 2017. And the committee touted its online fundraising, which it says has totaled $31.26 million for the year so far, including $2.4 million last month. While lagging a bit in recent months, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) still had a sizable $12 million cash-on-hand advantage over Democrats as of July, and both parties had raised about the same amount for the year.”
TRUMP ATTORNEY TO FACE SENATE INTEL COMMITTEE
Fox News: “Attorney Michael Cohen confirmed to Fox News on Sunday that he’ll be speaking with the Senate Intel Committee Tuesday in the form of a closed session, much like Donald Trump Jr.’s interview with the committee two weeks ago. Cohen is one of the latest of President Trump’s associates under scrutiny for his contact with a Russian official during the 2016 presidential campaign. In January 2016, Cohen, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and previously President Trump’s special counsel, had emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary looking to speed up the development of a ‘Trump Tower’ in Moscow, documents showed. … In a letter sent to the House Permanent Select Committee in August, Cohen explained that the “proposal for ‘Trump Tower Moscow’ was ‘similar’ to previous real estate projects that were ‘contemplated years before any campaign.’ Cohen said that he ‘primarily communicated’ with a Moscow-based development company through a U.S. citizen ‘third party intermediary” named Felix Sater.”
Trump lawyers pop off over popovers - NYT: “The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. [Ty Cobb] was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed ‘a McGahn spy’ and saying Mr. [Donald McGahn] had ‘a couple documents locked in a safe’ that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for ‘some of these earlier leaks,’ and who he said ‘tried to push Jared out,’ meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.”
TRUMP BRINGS ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ TO U.N.
NY Post: “President Trump used his inaugural address at the United Nations on Monday to criticize the world body for not living up to its ‘potential’ because of bureaucracy and urged member nations to reject ‘business as usual’ and take ‘bold stands.’ ‘In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement,’ Trump said at the 72-year-old organization during a meeting on reforms. Despite a ballooning budget and a doubling of staff since 2000, Trump said, ‘We are not seeing the results in line with this investment’ and encouraged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to focus more on people than bureaucracy. ‘We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of people from around the world,’ the president said in his tightly scripted five-minute address. ‘In order to achieve this, the UN must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers and focus on results rather than on process.’”
McMaster suggests better off without Bannon - Fox News: “National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday that President Trump’s United Nations speech will focus on promoting and protecting American prosperity and suggested that the White House’s National Security Council is better after having removed adviser Steve Bannon and others who pushed ‘their own narrow agendas.’ ‘The National Security Council, I think, has served the president well in bringing him multiple options. There were some who tried to operate outside of that process for their own narrow agendas. And that didn’t serve the president well,’ McMaster told ‘Fox News Sunday,’ in response to questions about his policy clashes with Bannon.”
Federal lawsuit challenges Trump order on DREAMers - Reuters
Sec. Zinke suggests scaling back 10 national monuments he was asked to review - WashTimes
Emmy telecast all about Trump, including a Spicer cameo - Fox News
“I think the main message is ‘make the UN great.’ Not again. ‘Make the UN great.’ Such tremendous potential, and I think we'll be able to do it.” – President Trump to reporters who asked for a preview of his Tuesday speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“In your answer to Mr. Eric Hutchins [from Friday’s report] you say that the answer to improving civics/govt./U.S. History education rests with parents and the communities at large. I agree, but I fear we are placing our faith in an increasingly revisionist society. By and large, the last generation that was truly educated about our history as it was, and not as we want it to be was the first half of the Baby Boomer generation and they are soon to be no more. Case in point, the furor over statues of Confederates and slave owners including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Given that at least in the secessionist states nearly all of the slave owners were the Democrats of their day, what the left is really doing is trying to obliterate that fact. In a couple of generations Democrats can say they purged those nasty statues, thereby claiming some sort of undeserved moral superiority, and there will be no one alive to dispute them.” – Rebecca L. Baisch, Idaho Falls, Idaho
[Ed. note: I doubt the individuals most animated by the idea of removing such statues care much about the Democratic Party. I think what you are witnessing, Ms. Baisch, is a radical group using the tyranny of the mob to force otherwise sensible individuals into irrational choices. I saw the story last week about the school in Fayetteville, N.C. ditching Gilbert du Motier, whom you know better as the marquis de Lafayette, as the mascot for a lunchroom cleanliness initiative. The school stopped the program when someone was informed that Lafayette owned slaves. What the watchmen of political correctness forgot to mention was that Lafayette bought the slaves in order to free them. School Superintendent Tim Kinlaw said the program might be reinstated and apologized for the initial decision. “It appears that by trying to be sensitive to part of the community, I was insensitive to another part,” Kinlaw said. Hmmmmm… I doubt Kinlaw or any other school administrator had any desire to cover up Democratic complicity in slavery or segregation. He was just trying to avoid controversy, and that is all that is required for mob rule to be successful. As individuals, especially leaders, increasingly abandon their own judgement and sacrifice core beliefs in favor of the avoidance of public backlash and legal complications, we increasingly live in a nation of moral imbeciles. Outsourcing your own judgment to the verdicts of your Twitter feed is never a cool choice.]
“Instead of what you suggest, a reunification of the Korean Peninsula what would be the problem(s) of making a quiet side deal with China. For their ‘removal’ of Kim and the assurance of South Korea's right to exist we let China know that we will not oppose their governing the North Korean territory as a province of China? I am sure they must know more than one NK general who could quiet Kim and who would be happy to run the province under China's rule. At this juncture it seems to me that getting rid of Kim is more important then the continued recognition of their geographical and historical right to exist as an independent country. We can think of it as the Crimeatization of North Korea.” – Steve Litwack, Sarasota, Fla.
[Ed. note: This might be a very good idea, Mr. Litwack… or it might be an absolute catastrophe. I don’t claim any special expertise on foreign policy and make no recommendations of my own. I included the mention of Korean reunification simply because that seems to be the one that the foreign policy community holds out as the world beater. I think the concern about anything that sounds like a soft coup, even of the phony kind favored by the Kremlin, is that unpredictability in a nuclear-armed pirate state is not something many would feel comfortable with, especially if the result was a more powerful China. Leaving aside what our allies would think about the idea, we have seen mounting evidence that China is developing a more aggressive posture in the region and one designed to limit U.S. influence. The current regime in North America is unacceptable to American policymakers, but instability in North Korea is probably considered even worse.]
“I seldom read your Halftime Reports anymore. It seems you are not being ‘fair and balanced’ when it comes to President Trump. Have all the people who have run for office kept their campaign promises? No, of course not. He has a House and Senate that are not trying to cooperate with him. This is more so than with Obama or Bush. Many of my friends think you are Anti Trump but I hesitate to agree with them. I was one of your first supporters but am slipping away.” – Vira Doughton, Pittsburgh
[Ed. note: I hate to hear that you’re not enjoying the note these days, Ms. Doughton. Certainly my hope is not to be anti- or pro- any candidate, campaign or party. We do very much want to give you a non-partisan, fair-minded analysis of the current political scene. And even as a private citizen, I try to make sure that I don’t place too much stake in individual politicians. The genius of the American system is that it’s not supposed to be about the men and women in positions of power but of the laws that form our government and direct its activities. One of the most dangerous trends I see in American political life today is the absolute personalization of politics. There was considerable obsession with Barack Obama, with quasi-religious devotion from some and a hatred bordering on irrationality among others. That trend has gotten worse with Trump. Countries that govern on the basis of charismatic leaders and cults of personality end up boiling their pet rabbits for stew like Venezuela. I appreciate your gentle reproof and will pay attention to make sure that I am not falling victim to the same trend I abhor. As for uncooperative congresses, though, I would point out that both Obama and George W. Bush faced absolute resistance from Houses and Senates held by the opposing party. Trump’s situation is made more remarkable by the fact that he is at odds with members of the party he leads.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
AND VERSAILLES, KY. IS INTERESTED IN ANY UNUSED PALACES
AP: “Vermont’s capital city is saying merci to a French city it’s named after for plans to send some misspelled soccer jerseys its way. The city manager in Montpelier (mahnt-PEEL’-yuhr), Vermont, says Montpellier (mahn-peel’-YAY’), France, ordered jerseys for its professional soccer team and fans, but they came in misspelled, with just one L instead of two. City Manager Bill Fraser said Thursday that the city in southern France has decided to send them to Montpelier, Vermont, which is spelled with one L, not two. Montpelier doesn’t know how many jerseys it will get. … Montpellier contacted the Vermont city to let official know about the gift. Montpelier’s Facebook post about the jerseys has generated interest, from near and far — including from Montpellier, France. ‘Please wear proudly our jerseys, cousins from the New World,’ wrote Anthony Fernant d’Aizes. … ‘Bonjour! Merci pour les chemises!’ wrote the city of Montpelier.”
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.