The once and future King

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On the roster: The once and future King - House Republicans set new fundraising record - Chances of shutdown Friday still rising - Trump blames Dems for lack of DACA deal - Woof

THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING
The never-ending struggle by partisans to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King continues apace in 2018.

King was a socialist, say the socialists. King hated the government and had libertarian leanings, say the libertarians. King was an Evangelical Christian, say the Evangelical Christians. King would have been an advocate for transgenderism, says transgender activists. And so on, and so on.

We are told that to fulfill King’s vision for America, we must combat man-made global warming or fight speech codes on campuses or #resist. As with all leaders who cross over into civic deity status, every generation and every political moment will have to litigate the meaning and relevancy of King and his achievements.

How we see the past and its towering figures says more about us than it does about them.

But it is important to be clear-eyed about that work. If we are too promiscuous in recreating the characters of these titans, we will change and diminish their value as examples and instructors in the years to come.

King’s feelings about socialism, trade unions, the war in Vietnam, the FBI, the Kennedy family or anything else are certainly interesting. In the same way that Abraham Lincoln’s view on temperance or Winston Churchill’s enthusiastic rejection of that movement informs historians’ views of those men and enriches our understanding of them, they are not the main things. Lincoln saved the Union and Churchill saved Europe. The relevance of their opinions on legal booze evaporates quickly.

For all of the effort that is put into reimagining King for our moment, we risk losing sight of what the main thing was for him.

King was a political leader. Yes, he was a cultural icon. Yes, he was a teacher. Yes, he was a healer of a national spirit bent and broken by the shame of slavery and legal segregation. But his achievement was in changing the laws of the United States.

Americans are talking about race and racism with the frequency and intensity not much seen since King’s lifetime. An enormous amount of energy is being dedicated to the question of how prevalent racism is in the United States, the personal opinions and policies of the president, as well as the complaints of those who say anti-racist sentiment has become a new inquisition.

It is easy for us, therefore, to forget the nature of the fight in King’s era. Duly elected governments in cities, states and counties across large portions of the United States enacted and enforced unconstitutional laws depriving people of African ancestry of their constitutionally protected rights. What the Constitution itself had laid out and what the post-Civil War amendments to it had made plain, leaders, mostly in the Deep South, flouted.

Even when the Supreme Court struck down unconstitutional laws, bigoted leaders continued to circumvent or disobey the courts. It wasn’t just the proprietors of lunch counters and bus depots that forbade the intermingling of races, it was the law.

King was fighting the state and he aimed to shame white America into changing the law. And so he did.

We rightly pay particular attention to the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, which were the aims of King & Co. in their march on Washington in 1963, but segregation laws were felled in states across the nation.

One of the reasons people are so unhappy with government these days is that they have been conditioned to ask for things beyond its powers.

We have discussed before the ways in which a cultural desire for meaning and purpose has perverted our political process. As social institutions continue to thin and fray, people increasingly look not just to politics, but national politics, to fill the empty spaces.

When politics and government inevitably fail in this work, disappointed and angry voters demand change in the next election. This leaves us in a cul-de-sac in which both parties promise unicorns but never get farther than scattering some straw in a stable.

King’s achievement is historic because he led a movement that ended legal segregation. He and his supporters, black and white, fought and achieved a goal that had eluded our country since before its founding.

But there is no law that can remake the human heart. You can abolish slavery and segregation, but you cannot abolish hate. Those who wish to use governmental power to bring about change of that nature are not only likely to be frustrated, but may well make matters worse.

It is easier for us to imagine that we are always one election away from a new set of rules that will make us into the people King foresaw in his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Not only will that not happen, but even imagining that it might excuses us from the real and necessary work of loving our neighbors as ourselves and living out our civic responsibilities.

THE RULEBOOK: ABOUT THAT…
“A government continually at a distance and out of sight can hardly be expected to interest the sensations of the people.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 27 

TIME OUT: CHILE TODAY, HOT TAMALE
Economist: “When a visit by Pope Francis to Chile was announced last June, the country’s devout Catholics no doubt hoped it would help bring lapsed ones back to the fold. But as Chileans await his arrival on January 15th for a three-day visit, followed by two days in Peru, the preparations have highlighted the increasing irrelevance of the Catholic church to many Chileans. Half of Chileans regard the visit as of little importance and a large majority disapprove of the government contributing 7bn pesos ($11m) towards security and logistics. ‘The money should be spent on the poor, above all on health,’ fumes Sonia Meza, an evangelical who works as a maid, from La Florida, a suburb of Santiago. The lack of enthusiasm contrasts with the ecstatic reception of John Paul II in 1987, during the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Then, more than three-quarters of Chileans were Catholic.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -23.6 points
Change from one week ago: down 2.8 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.]

HOUSE REPUBLICANS SET NEW FUNDRAISING RECORD
WashEx: “House Republicans set a new fundraising record in 2017, raising an eye-popping $85 million to ease what is expected to be a difficult 2018 midterm election. The National Republican Congressional Committee told Secrets Monday that the 2017 record was $12.4 million more than the previous best ‘off-year’ period, in 2003. And, showing the strength of its operation, it was $22.8 million more than the last off-year period in 2015 when the NRCC raised $62.25 million. Credit goes to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been on a non-stop campaign to raise money and pitch the House GOP agenda, NRCC Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers, who has energized the outfit’s fundraising operation, and even President Trump who headlined the group’s major 2017 fundraising dinner and who has pledged more help this year. ‘Our goal from day one of the 2018 cycle was to have a strong off-year fundraising performance and we’ve done just that, smashing record after record,’ Stivers told Secrets.”

Kraushaar: ‘The Week From Hell for Republicans’ -
National Journal: “It’s been a brutal week for Republicans hoping and praying that President Trump would turn the corner in the new year. A more competent president would be celebrating the healthy state of the American economy, touting the long list of corporations offering more-generous benefits because of his tax bill, and focusing on a bipartisan idea—like infrastructure—to win back support in the run-up to the midterm elections. Instead, this past week featured the president showcasing an abject ignorance of his own administration’s agenda (on three separate occasions) along with a bigoted rant about immigrants from certain countries that soon leaked to the press and sparked an international firestorm. But for all the chaotic headlines emanating from the Trump administration, the worst news for Republicans came far from the White House. It stemmed from the actions of self-interested Republican officeholders, who are increasingly distancing themselves from the Trump agenda, deciding to pass up promising campaigns, or leaving Washington altogether.”

CHANCES OF SHUTDOWN FRIDAY STILL RISING
Axios: “Unless Congress passes a funding bill before Friday, the government will shut down. Here's what we expect this week, based on conversations with senior House and Senate aides: Congress will likely — at the last minute, of course — pass a short-term  funding bill, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), to keep the government open while they keep negotiating on the big ticket items. There'll be no immigration deal before the deadline. Democrats and Republicans are far from agreeing on a DACA deal, and the president is still raging after Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin and others presented him with what he considers a completely unacceptable ‘bipartisan deal.’ A new group of Republicans and Democrats — top House and Senate members Kevin McCarthy, Steny Hoyer, Dick Durbin and John Cornyn — have started meeting to hash out an immigration deal that works for the president.”

TRUMP BLAMES DEMS FOR LACK OF DACA DEAL
Fox News: “President Trump doubled down Sunday evening on criticism of congressional Democrats over stalled negotiations to secure the future of an Obama-era program shielding immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation -- while also denying claims from his opponents in Congress that he's a racist. Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, that he and congressional Republicans were ‘ready, willing and able to make a deal’ on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ‘but Democrats don't want to.’ The president and Congress are attempting to reach a deal on comprehensive immigration reform as part of a federal spending bill that Congress must pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. Trump and Republicans are seeking increased funds for border security and changes to the lottery and so-called ‘chain migration’ immigration programs in exchange for providing permanent protection for so-called ‘Dreamers.’ Democrats have balked at such conditions…”

Legal scholars warn over judicial activism on immigration - NYT: “When a federal judge in California ordered a stop last week to a key plank of President Trump’s immigration agenda, he revived a debate that has simmered in this age of partisanship: the role of the impartial judiciary in American democracy. … The tactic has gained popularity among federal judges as a tool to combat perceived executive overreach. But legal scholars say it is helping to erode the idea of an impartial judiciary, and Judge Alsup’s decision opened him to critiques that he overstepped his boundaries by applying national orders in a regional case. The possibility of obtaining a comprehensive injunction that impedes, or even thwarts, the opposition has legal scholars worried that more plaintiffs’ lawyers will take cases to sympathetic judges.”

A s--t house divided cannot stand - WaPo: “President Trump said Sunday that he is ‘not a racist’ and denied that he had spoiled chances for an immigration overhaul in Congress by using a vulgarity to describe poor countries. … Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), who attended the meeting Thursday at which Trump reportedly used the vulgar term, had previously said they could not recall whether Trump said it, but on Sunday they denied outright that he had. They suggested that a Democrat who publicly confirmed the remarks, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), could not be trusted. ‘This is a gross misrepresentation. It’s not the first time Senator Durbin has done it, and it is not productive to solving the problem we’re having,’ Perdue said Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ The accusations prompted Democrats to blast the GOP senators for impugning a colleague’s integrity…”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Days after bombshell report on pornographic actress, White House works hard to discredit WSJ - WaPo

If Trump has used gov. resources for ‘Fake News Awards,’ it may mean ethics woes - Politico

AUDIBLE: HIT ‘EM RIGHT IN THE BRIEFS
“He was a man of pugnacity, and he just couldn’t help himself when he thought he had a knockout punch.” – Bryan Garner said in an interview with the WSJ, discussing the late Justice Antonin Scalia. His memoir about their friendship entitled, “Nino and Me,” comes out Tuesday.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Again Trump has shown his narcissistic rich-boy personality with his use of words describing nations that are 3rd world at best. What is overlooked is that most ‘fundamental’ Americans agree with the sentiment while disagreeing with his use of vulgarities. Most Americans, especially those who don't live on the left coast, feel immigration to the US is a gift and is not a ‘right.’ Most Americans want immigrants who can assimilate into our society and who can become productive citizens. You may disagree with these sentiments but how many travel brochures are printed each year touting Haiti or the Congo as ‘The Place!’ to go. These countries, along many others, are failed states and it is not our obligation to set things straight.” – James Douglas, Wetumpka, Ala.

[Ed. note: That may be so, Mr. Douglas. I do not doubt that you and millions of your countrymen feel that way. And that is entirely your business. But, remember that the issue about the president’s vulgarity is that many people, including almost all Democrats, believe that is an immoral and racist point of view. If one is arguing for a deal with Democrats that reflects the sensibilities you described, it is terrible judgement to use demeaning terminology in making ones argument. Trump, in effect, lived down to the unkind assumptions Democrats had made about him. Here’s how we put it Friday: “A good rule of thumb for gauging the fallout from this demi debacle is that anyone who is focused on the naughty words is either being disingenuous or is probably too foolish to pay attention to, anyway. Now, it is certainly a matter of substance whether or not you agree or disagree with Trump’s underlying sentiment that the United States should choose against immigrants from poor or chaotic nations. That has been an ongoing policy debate for years, much more so since 2016. Wherever you come down on that policy debate, though, this fact is unavoidable: In expressing his view crassly, President Trump made life much worse for himself and his party at a crucial moment.”]

“I’m an independent voter from Fort Worth, TX, marine veteran, fiscal conservative. I do have a bone to pick with your claim that the proper response to the [s—thole] comment is to think of it solely within the frame of how it effects policy. The President of the United States referred to a solid third of the world, countries that many Americans have roots in, as [s—tholes]. Is it surprising? Sadly, no. But I am absolutely outraged, and such a reaction is not cheap, or over dramatic, or politically correct. I will never stop expecting more or being disgusted with such a lack of poise and dignity from the highest office on the planet. This situation, where conservative thought leaders like yourself ignore such an obvious moral quagmire in the name of being the serious policy people in the room, is why I fear for the long term future of conservatism. Sure, the old white voters of the next few election cycles will not bat an eye. But 20 years from now, when those of us under 35 are in the political driver’s seat, it will not be forgotten which party sold itself out to bigotry in the name of advancing its policy agenda. I am outraged, Chris. And I won’t be marching through the streets or fiercely debating people on social media to prove it. Rather, I will be showing my outrage in the voting booth. Perhaps for the rest of my life. Under normal circumstances I would be a reliable Republican, but more of us are witnessing what we never thought we would witness, and as a result crossing that line each and every day. Even down here in Texas.” – Dan Waylan, Kaufman, Texas

[Ed. note: Mr. Waylan, if I really am a “conservative thought leader,” then America’s conservatives are in far worse trouble than I previously thought! Not only do I not particularly think of myself as a leading thinker – except for as it relates to the horrors of most modern country music, the best way to cook a roast beef and the movement to restore West Virginia’s capital to its rightful, original seat in Wheeling – we’re not offering our analysis here in service of a conservative point of view. This note does not attempt to tell you what you should think about the issues. Our mandate is to provide insight on how we got to a particular place and what the future may hold. There is much happening in American political life today with which I disagree as a citizen, but as far as I am able, I try to render my analysis in a disinterested fashion. I’m like the weather man, I don’t make it snow, I just tell you when you might want to leave the shovel by the back door. I find your letter particularly interesting, though, because you do, in fact, reflect a tectonic shift in American politics. Educated and typically more affluent voters have been the bedrock of the GOP since at least the 1950s. College-educated white people (aka suburbanites) have been among the most reliably Republican groups of all. That’s changing in the era of Trump as the GOP tries to absorb and even multiply the populist sentiments of blue collar voters. What remains to be seen is whether this shift among voters like you is temporary and Trump-conditional or is a lasting arrangement. And as to the question of whether Trump’s status as a habitual line stepper is having consequences, look no further than the license that many in the political press have taken in their own language and standards in covering the president. It got ugly early.]

“I am very happy with the accomplishments Trump and the Republicans have achieved this past year. Certainly feel better about the direction of the USA. President Trump, with his ego and emotional outbursts is very hard to like and his vulgarity is unacceptable. But, when the media is so unfair to him all the time and all, including you, just love to kick him when he is down; it makes me realize that I'm still glad that he is in the White House instead of the Corrupt and obscene Clinton's.” – Charles Dishman, Houston 

[Ed. note: It is amazing to me, Mr. Dishman that a 71-year-old billionaire who commands the most powerful military in human history is so often the object of sympathy. There is no question that the overwhelming majority of the coverage of the president is negative. There also is no question that some of the coverage is intentionally unfair and sometimes even hysterical. But, I have never in either my own experience or in study of American political history, seen a leader with such an astonishing penchant for self-destructive mistakes. His indiscipline, selfishness and emotionality may make for fascinating viewing, but have repeatedly thwarted his own agenda and the hopes of his most ardent supporters. Even so, Trump is masterful at still casting himself as the victim by ably seizing on the worst excesses of his critics and using those excesses to discredit legitimate inquiry and criticism in the eyes and ears of his most ardent supporters.]

“Trump is not set to end Dreamers Protected Status – that is ENTIRELY up to Congress – as it should be.” – Mike Tardif, Santa Ana, Calif.

[Ed. note: There is no question that setting immigration policy is the duty of the Congress, Mr. Tardif. But there is also no question that former president Obama put in place a program that circumvents congressional primacy on the subject. President Trump is choosing to end that circumvention. You may think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but like his predecessor, Trump is acting unilaterally to change the rules. Like the saying goes, if you see a turtle on top of a fence post you know he didn’t get there by himself.]

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WOOF
CBC News: “A police dog had an extra edge tracking down an alleged thief on Tuesday: The suspect was carrying stolen steaks. Saint John [New Brunswick, Canada] police say they responded to a theft call at a local store and spotted a man in his mid-20s running away. They said he was wearing a dark toque, grey jacket ‘and carrying three club packs of steaks.’ Police deployed a service dog, Diesel, to search for him. A man was soon found and arrested for theft. The 29-year-old man is to appear in provincial court to answer the charges. ‘The steaks were recovered from the suspect. Probably not the best thing to be carrying when a determined police service dog is tracking you down,’ the Saint John police said in a release Wednesday.”

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.