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On the roster: The supremacy of the internet mob - McConnell keeps Dems off campaign trail - Bipartisan gang has votes to force DREAMer vote - DOJ recommends prosecution for McCabe - Toot, toot
THE SUPREMACY OF THE INTERNET MOB
The era of the internet mob is turning out to be just as terrible as everyone thought it would be.
We have seen for years instances where people, deservedly and undeservedly, are dragged around by their nose hair on the internet.
But the trend does seem to be accelerating.
The photograph of the protestor using the megaphone to scream in the face of a Starbucks employee who stoically stands, eyes pointed at the horizon is a pretty good meme for our moment.
In the case of Starbucks, they deserved an internet beat down because of what happened to two African American businessmen who were humiliated by a Philadelphia Starbucks location and the police. If any of your friends ever tell you that racism is not a thing, just tell them about the two guys who showed up early for a meeting getting arrested.
Starbucks may have deserved the dragging but are we satisfied with the vehicle of justice?
Kevin Williamson seems to have found a home at Commentary Magazine. When he was writing for National Review he was the conservative who liberals loved to hate, writing trenchant analysis but steering away from invective and maintaining a fair-minded spirit.
But when they went to hire Williamson at The Atlantic, the outrage mob, while small in number, was ferocious in intensity. The Atlantic reneged and fired Williamson in a matter of days. He did not last even one Scaramucci Unit.
Williamson was dragged for having been flip about executing women for having abortions. Now, it’s nobody’s business but the Atlantic’s who they hire and who they fire. A liberal magazine is certainly within its rights to not employ writers who are pro-life, particularly ones who express extreme views. But, there are many stupider things written by even smarter people who continue to keep their employs.
Williamson’s firing provided a psychic release for liberal Americans who have been frustrated about their flagship newspaper, The New York Times, developing and maintaining a useful fan of ideological diversity.
This note also happens to be acquainted with a television network that is dragged daily. Sometimes with cause, sometimes unfairly, sometimes at the behest of well-funded organizations, sometimes organically – but no one could say infrequently. So we will not pretend to be impartial in the matter.
However, we should acknowledge that as virtual life and real life approach singularity that we better start having smarter conversations about how our republic treats mob justice.
The first famous incident involved a PR executive who said something insensitive about AIDS in Africa and got fired and was made a pariah in a couple of hours. Twitter so far has proved only to be useful for two things: Jokes and ruining people’s lives.
Part of the reason for its efficacy in the latter is that getting a mob together takes almost no effort at all. If you have a catchy cause and have proficient social media skills you can work wonders. The secret is that mob instigators ask very little of the participants they recruit.
A comment, a re-tweet or even just a “like” is all it takes. And in a country of 325 million people getting a million folks to make a sacrifice-free commitment to a cause isn’t so tough.
Now, every culture shuns. Ours has always preserved sanction of public shaming and shunning. And it’s a useful tool in maintaining societal norms.
But as our government ceases to function in normal and needed ways the power of social media vigilantes has grown.
We are not in the habit of proposing legislation, save our only endorsement – making Election Day a holiday – but we would submit that this issue needs to be addressed in some manner.
This new regime is having a corrosive effect on politics and government.
The fact that many, if not most, participants in the anti-Starbucks mob had opinions before they had facts. In this case, the facts seem to well support a considerable degree of outrage. Starbucks is within its rights to kick people out of their shops who do not purchase the company’s products, but treating two apparently courteous and professional men like dangerous criminals reflects some serious bias issues.
But is the response just?
In the old days when you wanted to have a mob you had to get people on buses, get their torches lit and somebody had to stop off and buy some pitchforks. If you are willing to go that far for a cause it’s likely that you would have learned at least a little about it.
In the cheap and easy mob era there are few checks on excess. As our government stultifies we are increasingly governed by corporate entities. Americans rely on businesses for more and more of the structure in which we live. That’s a conversation we’re only just beginning as it relates to Facebook and other entities that manipulate digital reality for profit. The profit motive generally produces good outcomes if only because it is predictable. Greed may be loveless but it is at least clarifying.
But without government as an effective intermediary the mob has one of the few checks on unscrupulous or immoral conduct in corporate America. And that part of it can be laudable and useful.
But we are developing a system in which unaccountable, unelected individuals who bear little to no consequence for their participation or leadership have become arbiters of justice.
Even in those instances where you may think the mobs’ judgement is right, it may be helpful to think about what the future may hold.
THE RULEBOOK: THIS IS WHAT WE ARE SAYING
“If [foreign powers] see that our national government is efficient and well administered … our people free, contented, and united, they will be much more disposed to cultivate our friendship than provoke our resentment.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 4
TIME OUT: TO BE FAIR
Writer Derek Thompson sings the praises of fair-weather fandom. Atlantic: “Rooting for winners is more than acceptable—it’s commendable. Fans shouldn’t put up with awfully managed teams for decades just because their parents liked those teams, as if sports were governed by the same rules and customs as medieval inheritance. Fans should feel free to shop for teams the way they do for any other product. What I’m proposing here is a theory of fluid fandom that would encourage, as opposed to stigmatize, promiscuous sports allegiances. By permanently anchoring themselves to teams from their hometown or even an adopted town, sports fans consign themselves to needless misery. They also distort the marketplace by sending a signal to team owners that winning is orthogonal to fans’ long-term interests. Fluid fandom, I submit, is the emotionally, civically, and maybe even morally superior way to consume sports. … Whether or not traditionalists approve of it, however, a new age of fandom may be emerging, one that is less arbitrary and shifts the balance of power to fans.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 40.4 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -14 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.8 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 39% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approval - 55% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 44% approval - 54% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 52% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 41.8 percent
Democratic average: 46.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 5 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 0.8 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems - 39% GOP; ABC News/WaPo: 47% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 47% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 46% Dems - 43% GOP; CNN: 50% Dems - 44% GOP.]
MCCONNELL KEEPS DEMS OFF CAMPAIGN TRAIL
WashEx: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could seek to hold the Senate in session longer each week to keep vulnerable incumbent Democrats off the campaign trail. McConnell this month began threatening Senate Democrats with longer workweeks if they continue to slow-walk the confirmation of President Trump’s nominees. Marc Short, White House point man for legislative affairs, told a small gathering of Republican donors this week that the majority leader plans to use this tactic in the weeks ahead to squeeze Democrats running for re-election in red states. ‘McConnell wants to increase the days the Senate is open for business to keep’ Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri ‘tied up from campaigning,’ a Republican donor told the Washington Examiner, relaying what Short communicated. The meeting, organized by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm, was not a fundraiser. It was made available to some major Republican donors but no money was solicited in exchange for attending, the contributor said.”
Dem super PAC doing mischief in West Virginia GOP Senate primary - [W. Va.] Metro News: “Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney during the federal trial of former coal executive Don Blankenship, is one of the officers of a political action committee taking aim at Blankenship’s Republican primary opponents for U.S. Senate. The ultimate goal of the political action committee is to help out the presumed Democratic nominee, incumbent U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. But the degrees of separation between Goodwin and Blankenship make for a strange bedfellows twist. Contacted this morning and asked to confirm whether he’s the Booth Goodwin listed as treasurer for the Duty and Country PAC, Goodwin responded, ‘Do you know another Booth Goodwin?!’ He then directed questions to Mike Plante, spokesman for the political action committee. Plante said the organization is directing its fire at state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Congressman Evan Jenkins because they appear to be the front-runners in the Republican primary.”
Poll shows Arizona Senate race turning a shade of blue - OHPI: “The GOP has two U.S. Senate seats at risk this election and Arizona’s Senate seat is one of those two. Democrat front-runner, Kyrsten Sinema, has little to no opposition while the GOP currently has a three-way primary between heavy-hitters Dr. Kelli Ward, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Congresswoman Martha McSally. … ‘The issue we are consistently seeing in the numbers is that Democrats are unified, Republicans are less united, and the all-important Independent voters are trending anti-Republican/Trump’ said Mike Noble, managing partner and chief pollster at OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based leading behavioral research polling company. … It is important to bear in mind that our likely General Election survey sample has a Republican +12-point advantage over Democrats. Despite the 12-point GOP advantage in the poll, the President’s favorability is in the red.”
Rokita feels backlash over yard signs sporting Trump, Pence endorsement - AP: “Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has demanded that Rep. Todd Rokita take down yard signs it says give the false impression the president endorsed the Indiana Republican’s Senate bid, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press. The rebuke came after two volunteers who led Trump’s bare-bones 2016 campaign in Vice President Mike Pence’s home state endorsed Rokita during an Indianapolis news conference last week. The Rokita signs, which have gone up since that event, proclaim in large white letters ‘Endorsed by Trump/Pence,’ with smaller letters below adding ‘2016 Indiana Team Leaders.’ Rokita spokesman Nathan Brand refused to say if the campaign will comply with the Trump campaign’s request.”
Billionaire Steyer puts his money on Feinstein’s rival - LAT: “Billionaire California Democratic activist Tom Steyer endorsed state Sen. Kevin de León in his insurgent primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday, and did not rule out funding an outside effort to boost De León's chances. ‘I think he's the kind of young progressive that reflects California and would be a very strong advocate for our state nationally,’ Steyer said, pointing to De León's efforts on issues such as immigration, climate change and gun control while he was the state Senate leader. ‘I know him well and he's a friend. We share a lot of values.’”
GOP divided on how to use tax cuts in upcoming races - WaPo: “Heading into a contentious campaign for control of Congress, Republicans are increasingly divided over how to bolster their signature legislative achievement — a $1.5 trillion tax cut — amid signs it is not the political gift they had expected it to be last year. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) aims to pass another massive tax cut this summer, which Republicans hope will rev up the GOP base and improve the standing of Republicans at the polls. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is under pressure to block a vote, which Republican campaign strategists worry could allow red-state Democrats to vote for additional tax cuts and undermine one of the GOP’s most effective lines of attack in conservative-leaning states: that Democrats voted against a big tax cut last December.”
Third party candidate enters Illinois gubernatorial race - Chicago Tribune: “A Downstate Republican state senator launched a third-party bid for governor on Thursday, exacerbating tensions in the party as Gov. Bruce Rauner tries to heal them ahead of November’s contest against Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker. Sen. Sam McCann of Plainview announced he’ll run under a new Conservative Party label and criticized Rauner in a video for helping Chicago Democrats control the state. In a statement, McCann said ‘the Republican Party under Rauner was unrecognizable to me.’ ‘Rauner has smeared the reputations of proven conservatives and abandoned the principles that millions of Illinois working families hold dear: economic liberty, traditional values, and law and order,’ said McCann, who had previously opted not to seek re-election this year to the seat he was first elected to in 2010.”
Republican candidates could suffer from Trump tariffs - NYT: “Stern warnings are coming from all over the Midwest about the political peril for Republicans in Mr. Trump’s recent course of action, in which the tariffs he slapped on foreign competitors invited retaliatory tariffs on American agriculture. Soybeans are America’s second largest export to China, and that country’s proposed 25 percent duties on the crop would hit hardest in states like Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota — where there are highly competitive House races — as well as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, whose Senate contests may determine control of the chamber. … Yet his goal … has effectively prioritized one element of the Trump political coalition over another, larger bloc of voters. That larger segment, the farm belt, is essential to Republican success in the midterm elections and beyond.”
BIPARTISAN GANG HAS VOTES TO FORCE DREAMER VOTE
WSJ: “A bipartisan group of House lawmakers worked Wednesday to exert pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) to bring immigration legislation up for a vote. Rep. Jeff Denham (R., Calif.) said Wednesday that he had secured the support of 240 lawmakers, including 50 Republicans, for a bipartisan proposal to vote on a series of immigration bills on the House floor. … The broad, bipartisan support for his plan ‘allows us to show the president and the speaker the will of the people, the will of the people’s House,’ [Denham] said. Mr. Denham is hoping to deploy a rarely used procedure known as ‘Queen of the Hill,’ under which the House would vote on a variety of immigration measures and the one with the most votes would pass. The House used this process in 2015 to resolve an internal GOP dispute over a budget resolution.”
Brown readies members of California National Guard on Trump’s dime - LAT: “Gov. Jerry Brown formally mobilized 400 California National Guard members Wednesday for transnational crime-fighting duties, thus preventing any effort by President Trump to have the troops focus on immigration enforcement on the Mexican border. The governor announced that federal officials have agreed to fund the plan he announced last week — a mission to ‘combat criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers’ in locations around California, including near the border. The order Brown signed makes clear that the troops will not be allowed to perform a broader set of duties as envisioned by Trump’s recent comments. ‘California National Guard service members shall not engage in any direct law enforcement role nor enforce immigration laws … or support immigration law enforcement activities,’ the order read.”
DOJ RECOMMENDS PROSECUTION FOR MCCABE
Fox News: “The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has sent a criminal referral for fired FBI official Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. The move follows a recent DOJ inspector general report that found McCabe leaked a self-serving story to the press and later lied about it to then-Director James Comey and federal investigators, prompting Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire him on March 16. A source confirmed to Fox News that the referral was sent. The Washington Post reported earlier that the IG referred the finding that McCabe misled investigators ‘some time ago,’ asking the top federal prosecutor for D.C. to examine whether he should be charged. Representatives with the Justice Department, inspector general’s office and U.S. attorney’s office all declined to comment. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows backed the move in a tweet Thursday afternoon. ‘The criminal referral from the IG is the right decision. It's about time we have some accountability for this type of conduct at the Justice Department,’ he said.”
Goodlatte prepares subpoena for Comey memos - The Hill: “The head of the House Judiciary Committee is expected to subpoena the Department of Justice (DOJ) as soon as this week to obtain copies of the so-called Comey memos, The Hill has learned. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is expected to issue the order in an effort to pressure the agency into granting access so lawmakers can review the seven memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote last year documenting his interactions with President Trump, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The chairman on Wednesday notified the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), that a subpoena is forthcoming. Under Judiciary Committee rules, the chairman must consult the ranking member two business days “before issuing any subpoena” — suggesting that the move is imminent.”
Cohen drops libel suits, shifts focus on recovering documents from FBI raid - Politico: “Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia. Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct. ‘The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,’ Cohen's attorney David Schwartz said. … The dossier claims that Cohen met with Russian operatives somewhere in Europe, including Prague, to attend a meeting to ‘clean up the mess’ created by public disclosures of other Trump associates’ reported ties to Russia.”
The Judge’s Ruling: Another legal hurdle for Trump - This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano breaks down Trump’s attorney-client privilege with Cohen: “The attorney-client privilege protects from scrutiny or revelation the confidential communications of a client to his lawyer that are integral to the lawyer’s legal work for the client. The privilege does not apply to casual conversations between client and lawyer… Now we have a very perilous situation for the president. Records of whatever work Michael Cohen has been doing for him in the past 10 years will soon be in the custody of federal prosecutors who expect it to be evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the president himself. These are the best federal prosecutors in the country. They are civil service-protected and can only be fired for cause, and they have been listening to the president’s phone calls to his confidant and ‘fixer’ and will soon see the fixer’s files.” More here.
New NASA boss poised for confirmation - Roll Call
Senate delays CIA director confirmation vote over torture concerns - Politico
Another of Trump’s accusers from the adult entertainment industry cuts deal to tell story - NPR
House advances IRS rules - WashEx
AUDIBLE: UNLESS YOU LIVE TO BE 131
“I’ll never beat that record.” – President Trump referring to former-President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush’s 73 years of marriage.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Dear Chris, I have found the Halftime Report to be a sensible alternative to much of the heavy-breathing exaggerations and misinformation that tries to pass as political information and analysis elsewhere. Therefore I was disappointed at your statement ‘That the Republican Party is attacking Comey is not surprising because it is their job to protect the president, even when he is wrong.’ Similarly, you say it is the duty of the Democrats to oppose the president. You appear to be saying political parties have a duty to consider the party affiliation of the president as more important than whether he is right or wrong. This gives your stamp of approval to the hyper partisanship that has made our country so difficult to govern sensibly. To the extent that the leading figures of both parties are elected officials, their clear legal and moral duty should be to do what is right for the country. The parties themselves should see their duty as the higher good of the average citizen, not immediate partisan benefit. If not, why should the average citizen support either of the parties? Please tell me I have misunderstood your comments.” – Paul Wedel, Bangkok, Thailand
[Ed. note: While I certainly take your point, Mr. Wedel, I would offer in my own defense that parties are not people. Republicans and Democrats are not ideological labels nor are they particularly about styles of government. They exist for the purpose of trying to win elections. I pay very little attention to what parties say and view with deep suspicion the positions of rank partisans. Everybody likes the taste of their own home cooking, so I wouldn’t read a review of a restaurant written by the chef. Partisanship is dangerous, but what we are experiencing these days is even worse than partisanship. It’s no less than the cultural balkanization of our nation. We are breaking into clans of such narrow boundaries and fired by such intense antipathies that we can scarcely speak with one another anymore. I personally think that the two party system has served the United States particularly well, forcing the smaller factions into two main rivers of discourse helps keep crazy people in check and acts as a bulwark against demagogues. The purpose of all those primaries and conventions and debates and so on is to create barriers of entry for people running for office. Parties at times have failed in this work but have succeeded more often than not. In fact, I would argue that one of the most disheartening trends in politics today are the weakening of the parties. Campaign finance laws and a reassertion of populist sentiment have conspired to make the Republican and Democratic parties hollowed out shells of their former selves. I think the country was better off when we were more partisan and less clannish.]
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The Scottish Sun: “A driver whose parked car ‘blocked a gate’ returned to find her motor had been attacked with baked beans. The woman, who wants to be known only as Emma, said her car was vandalised while left in a car park at submarine makers BAE in Barrow, Cumbria. The single mother also found a note attached to her windscreen which said: ‘Wake up earlier.’ Emma, 30, took pictures of the bean attack and note and posted them to social media. The angry message warned: ‘This is not a parking space. People need regular access to these back gates and you’re stopping them!’ … Emma wrote on social media: ‘So I got back to my car today to this – I wouldn’t mind but I asked someone if it was OK to park where I was they said it would be fine and I was by no means blocking any gate!’ … A spokesman for Cumbria Police said the incident had not been reported to police.”
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.