Conservatives forgot how to dance

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On the roster: Conservatives forgot how to dance - I’ll Tell You What: It’s a win-win-win-win-win - House takes next step on taxes, passes Senate budget - Trump announces opioid crisis an emergency - He carries the coffeemaker for just such occasions

CONSERVATIVES FORGOT HOW TO DANCE
Jeff Flake
’s problem isn’t Donald Trump, it’s that conservative ideas aren’t very popular.

Before conservatives fling their phones to the floor in outrage, we should first be plain about what we mean by “conservative.”

Here we’re talking about the kind of small-government, Constitution-literalistic, rugged-individualistic, free-market, cultural-traditionalistic ideology that has substantially defined American conservatism since at least the beginning of the 20th century.

From Calvin Coolidge to Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan to their heirs today, conservatism has also been about reacting to the march of liberalism, progressivism and populism. Often, conservatives have acted as a political corrective in response to the excesses of the left. But, the core set of values has been consistent.

That does not, however, mean that it has been popular.

A new study from the Pew Research Center finds just 15 percent of registered voters can be identified as “Core Conservatives.” The rest of the Republican-leaning coalition, a group almost twice as large, leans away from many of these conservative principles.

The Democrat leaners present something of a mirror image, but with the important distinction that there are fewer substrata on the blue end of the spectrum.

For 25 years the accepted political wisdom has been then George H.W. Bush lost the 1992 election because he was insufficiently conservative. The test for successive Republican nominees was whether they were conservative enough – tough enough on spending, staunch enough on defense of the Constitution, strongly enough in favor of free markets.

But did you ever stop and wonder why we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights in the first place? It’s the same reason Washington is populated with well-funded think tanks and conservative activist groups.

The NRA is big and powerful not because gun rights are unpopular, but rather that restrictions on gun ownership are very popular.

A balanced budget amendment wouldn’t be needed if deficit spending was really a political liability.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge that most Republicans sign wouldn’t be necessary if higher taxes, especially on the rich, really were unpopular.

But because conservatives have been so successful in many ways at shifting policy discussions over the past two generations on issues like guns, spending and taxes, they are tempted to believe that it is because those ideas are popular. In fact, the opposite is true.

Always remember, that the reason we have articulated liberties in the Bill of Rights is that government power is usually popular, at least at first. The Framers put those guardrails there because they knew public sentiment would turn and be turned toward more government intervention and power.

If you look at the Pew numbers and see those 15 percent of “Core Conservatives” under a mountain of opposition, you are reminded of why that is so. Remember what they said about Ginger Rogers: she had to do everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels.

It’s kind of like that for those ideological conservatives. If they want to reassert control of their party and reassume a position of power in government, they better get their dancing shoes on.    

THE RULEBOOK: NO HARM, NO FOUL
“The declaration itself, though it may be chargeable with tautology or redundancy, is at least perfectly harmless.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 33

TIME OUT: NO, YOU’LL HAVE A PROBLEM
Many know the famous line, “Houston, we have a problem,” but what many might not know is that it is incorrect. The famous words by astronauts Jack Swigert and James Lovell were: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here” and “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Today, the improper use causes Houstonians headaches. WSJ: “Houston has a problem, all right. It’s people who still think ‘Houston, we have a problem’ is a clever turn of phrase. The line—a misquote of the actual 1970 warning from an Apollo 13 astronaut to mission control in Houston—comes up ad infinitum, especially in newspaper headlines and sports broadcasts. That’s annoying to many Houstonians, and others, who consider it the laziest of clichés. ‘Houston, we have a problem’ resurfaced with regularity when the Astros nearly squandered the ALCS series against the Yankees last week before pulling it out in the decisive Game 7. … . Part of the reason it is so overused, Houstonians suspect, is that it is one of the few things most Americans can readily recall about the nation’s fourth-largest city…”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -19 points
Change from one week ago: up 2.2 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.]

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: IT’S A WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the war within the Republican Party, the latest update on the Trump dossier and the rush to get tax reform passed. Plus, a squabble over whose turn it is to hold the mailbag turns into a joint offering and Chris puts the ‘cool’ in Coolidge in trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

HOUSE TAKES NEXT STEP ON TAXES, PASSES SENATE BUDGET
Fox News: “The House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly approved a $4 trillion budget that paves the way for Republicans on Capitol Hill to begin focusing on tax reform. The vote was 216-212, with 20 Republicans, including conservatives unhappy about deficits and debt, opposing it. Republicans could lose only 22 votes for it to pass. ‘Big news - Budget just passed!’ President Trump tweeted Thursday morning. The Senate passed the measure last week and the House endorsed it without changes. ‘Tax reform will help reignite the American dream,’ House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters after the vote. ‘It will help bring us back to a place of confidence, freedom, happiness and a stronger, healthier economy. And this budget that the House just passed, 20 minutes ago, brings us closer to making that dream a reality.’ House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas announced that the text of the tax bill will be released Nov. 1.”

Fight over deductions heating up -
AP: “But GOP leaders were scrambling to overcome pockets of resistance to the measure from hard-right Republicans unhappy about deficits and lawmakers from New York and New Jersey who fear the subsequent tax bill would take away a deduction for state and local taxes that’s especially valuable to their constituents. ‘This is a big issue and it has to be resolved,’ said Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who supports the deduction. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady says he’ll schedule a panel debate and vote once the budget plan is safely passed…”

Fox Poll: ‘Voters frustrated with tax system, Democrats ahead in ballot test’ - 
Fox News: “Republican efforts to tackle tax reform should be welcome news to voters, as the latest Fox News poll finds there’s much in the nation’s current system Americans want fixed. A sizable 69 percent majority is upset about how much they pay personally, but that’s not the top voter frustration. Some 76 percent are very or somewhat frustrated with the complexity of the system and the forms, 78 percent feel that way about the wealthy paying too little, 85 percent don’t like corporations using loopholes to avoid paying, and 85 percent are frustrated the middle class is paying too much. Voters, however, save their biggest rebuke for Uncle Sam, as nearly 9-in-10 are frustrated with ‘the way the government spends our taxes’ (89 percent).”

House passes Iran sanctions bill - WashEx: “The House voted Thursday to impose new sanctions on entities that help supply Iran’s ballistic missile program. The bill sailed through the House with the help of 323 cosponsors. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., wrote the bill as a way to pressure an aspect of the regime’s military program that has long troubled western officials but was not addressed directly by the nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama’s team. ‘America will not be weak any longer,’ House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday when the bill was being debated. He said the bill would undermine Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as ‘the terrorist warriors of Hezbollah whose pockets are filled with Iranian money just as their hands are covered with American blood. This is an important part of our nation’s new Iran strategy.’”

DOJ LIFTS GAG ORDER ON URANIUM ONE CASE
Fox News: “The Justice Department said Wednesday night that it had lifted a gag order on a former FBI informant involved in a high-profile Russia bribery case, clearing the individual to speak to Congress about Moscow’s Obama-era uranium deals in the U.S. market and other schemes. In a statement, the department said it had authorized the informant to speak to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in addition to select staffers. The department said the informant could provide ‘any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,’ including Russian company Rosatom, subsidiary Tenex, Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation. … All three congressional committees launched investigations after The Hill reported that the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear officials were involved in fraudulent dealings – including extortion, bribery and kickbacks – as far back as 2009 in a case involving Rosatom’s subsidiary, Tenex.”

Schiff says Uranium One probe is just a distraction - The Hill: “Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, claimed Wednesday that the new probes of the Obama-era Uranium One deal and the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton email server are part of a Republican effort to distract from the ongoing Russia investigation. ‘So this is a partisan effort to distract. It’s a partisan effort aligned with what the White House has been urging, and Fox and Breitbart,’ Schiff said Wednesday on MSNBC’s ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports.’”

Clinton keeps quiet on Fusion GPS scandal - Fox News:“The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee paid more than $9 million to a law firm that, in turn, retained the political consultants who commissioned the now-infamous Trump dossier. … Hillary Clinton is conspicuously silent on the new revelations, while Clinton World gives mixed messages about her knowledge. … Clinton, though, hasn’t personally spoken up, and the rest of the Democratic brass are treating the dossier like a freelance project gone rogue. A spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who led the DNC at the time, told Fox News on Wednesday that, ‘She did not have any knowledge of this arrangement.’ A DNC official stressed that current Chairman ‘Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization.’” 

Trump campaign lawyers argue WikiLeaks posting DNC emails was legal - Politico: “WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of emails apparently hacked from the Democratic National Committee was legal and specifically protected by federal law, the Trump campaign argued in a court filing Wednesday. Lawyers for the Trump presidential campaign came to the controversial transparency website’s defense in a bid to defeat a lawsuit three Democratic activists filed in July accusing Trump’s presidential campaign of conspiring to publish sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers and information suggesting that a Democratic National Committee employee was gay. The Trump campaign’s motion to dismiss the case argues that WikiLeaks qualifies as the kind of online service that Congress rendered immune from legal liability through legislation passed more than two decades ago.”

Feinstein writing new Russia-inspired bill - Politico: “The Senate Judiciary Committee’s GOP chairman and top Democrat are splitting off in different directions when it comes to investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, risking a collapse of their once bipartisan probe. While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) digs deeper into a uranium sale approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that the House GOP is also investigating, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is working on legislation that would make it illegal for Americans to accept help from foreign nationals to influence an election — citing a meeting that Donald Trump Jr. held at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Kremlin allies as an example. … Feinstein is working with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on the foreign-influence bill, a spokesman said.”

TRUMP ANNOUNCES OPIOID CRISIS AN EMERGENCY
Fox News: “Calling it a ‘national shame’ and ‘human tragedy,’ President Trump on Thursday declared the widespread opioid epidemic crippling American communities a ‘public health emergency’ and pledged federal resources to help combat the growing problem. ‘Addressing it will require all of our effort, and it will require us to confront the crisis in all of its real complexity,’ Trump said during a speech in the East Room of the White House. … Trump spoke to an audience at the White House that included family members of those affected by the opioid crisis, as well as several administration officials and elected leaders. The president, who said ‘not one part of American society has been spared’ from the crisis, stopped short of calling it a national emergency, something he previously promised he’d do. The announcement follows months of debate on how to tackle the problem.”

MCCONNELL ALLIES START PUNCHING BACK ON BANNON
WaPo: “Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared open warfare on Wednesday against Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and leader of an insurrection aimed at defeating mainstream Republican candidates in next year’s midterm elections. More than a year ahead of the 2018 congressional contests, a ­super PAC aligned with McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed plans to attack Bannon personally as it works to protect GOP incumbents facing uphill primary fights. The effort reflects the growing concern of Republican lawmakers over the rise of anti-establishment forces and comes amid escalating frustration over President Trump’s conduct, which has prompted a handful of lawmakers to publicly criticize the president. Yet the retaliatory crusade does not aim to target Trump, whose popularity remains high among Republican voters. Instead, the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) will highlight Bannon’s hard-line populism and attempt to link him to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support.”

Ed Rollins raises ethical eyebrows with Senate move - AP: “The chairman of a political action committee backing Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward is assuming a senior role in her campaign, prompting questions about coordination between the groups, which is prohibited by federal law. Veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins, chairman and founder of Great America PAC, will remain head of the so-called super PAC, the group’s lawyer said Wednesday, as the campaign announced that Rollins was being named Ward’s campaign chairman. Campaign finance law bars collaboration between a candidate’s campaign and super PACs such as Great America, which can solicit unlimited contributions to promote candidates, unlike federally regulated candidate committees. Great America lawyer Dan Backer said Rollins will recuse himself from any PAC discussions of the Ward race.”

THE JUDGE’S RULING: NOT CLOCKWORK 
While away in Switzerland, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why Swiss bankers are being tried in the U.S. even though they did not break Swiss law: “Fairness at trial means that the defendant has the constitutionally required tools available to him, not the least of which are witnesses and tangible things to aid in his defense. The Framers knew this would be nearly impossible to achieve in a foreign land before a foreign court.” More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Trump won’t pick Cohn for Federal Reserve chairman, says he is crucial to tax reform - Reuters

Fox poll: Kelly outshines Trump in job approval - Fox News

VP Pence to visit Israel and Egypt in December AP

Rep. Carlos Curbelo R-Fla., to join a Democratic-only Congressional Hispanic Caucus
- Miami Herald

JFK assassination files set for release Fox News

AUDIBLE: BYEEE HATERS 
“You know, people are so stupid.” – Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson said about people who doubt his qualifications.

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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

HE CARRIES THE COFFEEMAKER FOR JUST SUCH OCCASIONS
KABC: “A driver donated a coffee maker after he apparently fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into a Goodwill store early Wednesday morning in Pasadena [Calif.]. The crash happened about 2:37 a.m. at a Goodwill in the 100 block of Altadena Drive, where the Jaguar sedan went through a wall and ended up among racks of clothing inside the building. No one was injured in the collision, and the driver was released after speaking with Pasadena Police Department officers. He was not suspected of DUI. Store employees were cleaning up debris and boarding up the damaged wall in the aftermath of the incident. Before leaving the scene, the driver donated a brand new Mr. Coffee machine to Goodwill.”

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.

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 FoxNews.com. 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.