Culture wars are won by voters, not politicians

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On the roster: Culture wars are won by voters, not politicians - Trump orders incentives for police reforms - Pence says Trump may dump indoor rally on Saturday - Biden crushes fundraising record - Darn tootin’

Twelve years ago, Barack Obama ran for president as an explicit opponent of same sex marriage.

On Thursday, an opinion written by a Supreme Court justice appointed by Donald Trump effectively outlawed employer discrimination over sexual orientation.

And while there was considerable conservative upset over the means by which Neil Gorsuch reached his conclusion – reading out of the Civil Rights Act rather than reading historical context into its language about “sex” – there was hardly a peep about the outcome itself.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted with the minority on the grounds that Congress itself should have weighed in on the question, celebrated the result as a “tremendous victory” for gay and lesbian Americans, praising activists for their “extraordinary vision, tenacity and grit.”

So what the heck happened? How did we go from a point where most Democrats opposed gay marriage to one where conservative Republicans were celebrating the triumphs of the gay rights movement?

We know the issues here still have their holdouts and that radicals at both ends of the spectrum are still out there looking for a fight. Virginia Republicans just dumped a congressman and may lose a House seat to punish him for officiating the gay wedding of two of his former staffers. And we have only just begun what will be years of back and forth over transgender issues.

But on that central issue that had been a predictable breakwater in American politics since the birth of gay-rights movement in the 1970s, the conflict is over, and it happened in a historical blink of an eye.

What we are apt to forget, and what many politicians refuse to believe, is that in the long run public sentiment drives policies far more than policies drive public sentiment.

Generational change, shifting attitudes and cultural norms cannot be constrained by legislation. Laws can retard changes like these, but ultimately are their own undoing as citizens come to view them as unjust. And just like that, an issue that substantially defined a decade of the political culture wars becomes a moot point.

It is useful then to wonder what other issues may be mooted in the decade ahead.

For instance: Will Republicans and Democrats, who have made nice livings off of illegal immigration and the resentment over immigration laws since the mid-aughts one day wake up to find that the issue no longer pulls the plough? Another decade of low immigration and the generational change among Hispanic voters may do the trick.

Consider what is happening with late-term abortion. Thanks to technological advances in ultrasound and neonatal care for premature births, the absolutist position on elective abortions at any point during a pregnancy has become unsustainable. Restrictions on late-term abortions are now broadly popular and are now in place in many states across the country. Politicians did not change attitudes here, but rather responded to attitudinal changes.

Or how about our current hot button of black Americans and police?

We seem to be about midway through a process not unlike what we saw on gay rights. As a recent poll taken by the WaPo and George Mason University found tectonic changes in attitudes on the subject since 2014 – including a 33 point shift among white Americans on the question of whether police killings like the one in Minneapolis are isolated incidents or reflect a larger problem.

While Baby Boomers see this fight through the lens of the riots of 1967 through the early 1970s – an armed confrontation between black anarchists and white authoritarians – it seems like younger voters have moved on to a different paradigm that is far less oriented around us vs. them.

That won’t change this summer or solve this apparent impasse overnight, but it seems like we may be seeing another shift on par with the one highlighted at the Supreme Court this week.

But when voters sort out what they think about how to deal with policing, you can bet that the same politicians who once wielded the wedge on both sides will be there for the first chorus of “Kumbaya.” 

“Ingenious men may declaim with plausibility on any subject; but no human ingenuity can point out any other expedient to rescue us from the inconveniences and embarrassments naturally resulting from defective supplies of the public treasury.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 30

History: “On June 16, 1884, the first roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. Known as a switchback railway, it was the brainchild of LaMarcus Thompson, traveled approximately six miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride. The new entertainment was an instant success and by the turn of the century there were hundreds of roller coasters around the country. … The first hotel opened at Coney Island in 1829 and by the post-Civil War years, the area was an established resort with theaters, restaurants and a race track. Between 1897 and 1904, three amusement parks sprang up at Coney Island–Dreamland, Luna Park and Steeplechase. By the 1920s, Coney Island was reachable by subway and summer crowds of a million people a day flocked there for rides, games, sideshows, the beach and the two-and-a-half-mile boardwalk, completed in 1923.”

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Trump: 41.8 percent 
Biden: 50.2 percent 
Size of lead: Biden by 8.4 points
Change from one week ago: First week of average
[Average includes: CNN: Trump 41% - Biden 55%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 43% - Biden 50%; IBD: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; Monmouth University: Trump 41% - Biden 52%.]

(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

Average approval: 40.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55 percent
Net Score: -14.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 40% approve - 57% disapprove; NPR/PBS: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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AP: “Following weeks of national protests since the death of George Floyd, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on policing Tuesday that would encourage better police practices and establish a database to keep track of officers with a history of excessive use-of-force complaints. In Rose Garden remarks, Trump stressed the need for higher standards and commiserated with mourning families, even as he hailed the vast majority of officers as selfless public servants and held his law-and-order line, while criticizing Democrats. … Trump’s executive order would establish a database that tracks police officers with excessive use of force complaints in their records. And it would give police departments a financial incentive to adopt best practices and encourage … programs in which social workers join police when they respond to nonviolent calls….Trump said that, as part of the order, the use of chokeholds would be banned ‘except if an officer’s life is at risk.’”

Black officers say existing discrimination complicates reform efforts - WSJ: “Many black officers said they understood the anger behind nationwide protests initially sparked by the killing of George Floyd. Not only does law enforcement need to change how they police minority communities, these officers said, but departments also need to change how they treat their own minority officers. ‘The same hell that black people were experiencing on the streets, we were experiencing inside the department,’ said Eric Adams, who retired from the New York Police Department as a captain in 2006. Mr. Adams, who is now Brooklyn borough president, said the dynamic hasn’t changed. … The Wall Street Journal has identified nearly two dozen lawsuits or settlements involving black officers who alleged discrimination against departments across the country over the past three years.”

Man shot at New Mexico conquistador statue protest - NYT: “Gunfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice. As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, shouting matches erupted over proposals to take it down and a man was shot, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in. The man, who was not identified, was taken away in an ambulance, and the police took into custody several members of a right-wing militia who were dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style rifles. … Chief Michael Geier of the Albuquerque Police Department said on Twitter that authorities were investigating reports that vigilante groups instigated the violence.”

USA Today: “Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday planning for President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a ‘work in progress’ and that other venues were being looked at, including ‘outside activities’ because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Asked on ‘Fox and Friends’ about holding the Saturday rally outdoors because of the coronavirus, Pence said, ‘you raise a good point.’ ‘What I can tell you is it's all a work in progress,’ Pence continued. ‘We've had such an overwhelming response that we're also looking at another venue. We're also looking at outside activities and I know the campaign team will keep the public informed as that goes forward.’ The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pence's remarks.”

Michigan poll finds Trump trailing Biden by 16 points - Detroit Free Press: “The damage done to President Donald Trump's standing in Michigan following recent protests outside the White House and in cities across the U.S. may have been even greater than originally believed, a new poll released to the Free Press said Tuesday. Two weeks ago, EPIC-MRA of Lansing, a polling firm that does work for the Free Press, released a survey showing former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leading Trump 53%-41% in Michigan, a 12-point edge. But a second poll, started on May 31, a day after the first poll began, and concluded a day later than the first poll, on June 4, showed Biden leading Trump 55%-39% in Michigan, a 16-point margin. As it did for the first poll, EPIC-MRA surveyed 600 randomly selected likely voters for the second one, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.”

Dingell: ‘I don't believe these numbers’ - The Detroit News: “Two top Michigan Democrats urged caution Monday for supporters of Joe Biden, arguing that backers of the former vice president shouldn't become complacent despite favorable polling ahead of the November election. During an online event launching an effort called Michigan Women for Biden, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, introduced herself as ‘Debbie Downer.’ ‘Some people say, ‘Oh, look at the numbers,’’ Dingell said. ‘I don’t believe these numbers.’ … Real Clear Politics currently shows Biden to have a 7.3% lead over President Donald Trump in its average of recent polling in Michigan and an 8.1% average polling lead nationally.”

Trump ahead by a hair in latest Iowa poll - Des Moines Register: “Four years after Republican Donald Trump decisively won Iowa and the presidency, the state appears to be a toss-up as he seeks re-election this November, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. Trump carried Iowa by 9 percentage points in his 2016 contest against Democrat Hillary Clinton. But today, the Register’s Iowa Poll shows the president leading former Vice President Joe Biden by just 1 point — 44% to 43%. The poll of 674 likely voters was conducted June 7-10 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The results — which come in the midst of a pandemic and widespread civil unrest — are among a wave of polling that indicates an increasingly unstable electoral map for the president. States like Iowa that were expected to be safe territory for him after clear wins in 2016 now appear to be battlegrounds in 2020.”

CNBC: “Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee combined to raise over $80 million in May, their largest fundraising haul of the 2020 election cycle. The campaign announced the record total in an email to supporters on Monday. The average online donation to the campaign was $30. More than half of their donors in May were new supporters. The campaign has tripled their total number of online donors since February. Educators were the majority of financial supporters for Biden last month. Biden’s fundraising success comes as President Donald Trump has been struggling in most national polls. A Real Clear Politics polling average shows Biden up just over seven points. The president has come under scrutiny for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his administration’s response to nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd.”

Feels heat on policing policies - AP: “More than four dozen progressive groups have signed a letter to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign criticizing his police reform proposals and warning that if he doesn’t adopt more progressive policies he risks losing black voters — and the election — this fall.  … It criticizes in particular Biden’s commitment to add $300 million in funding for community policing programs, arguing that such programs have contributed to police violence against black Americans. … The letter, which is signed by more than 50 groups, including the Bernie Sanders-linked Our Revolution, Black Voters Matter, and the League of United Latin American Citizens, among others, was dated June 11, nearly two weeks into the nationwide protests — and renewed conversation around criminal justice and policing reform — that erupted in the wake of Floyd’s killing. It also came the day after Biden wrote a USA Today op-ed that reiterated his earlier proposal to add new funds for community policing.”

Bloomberg: “The Trump administration is preparing a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure proposal as part of its push to spur the world’s largest economy back to life, according to people familiar with the plan. A preliminary version being prepared by the Department of Transportation would reserve most of the money for traditional infrastructure work, like roads and bridges, but would also set aside funds for 5G wireless infrastructure and rural broadband, the people said. President Donald Trump is scheduled to discuss rural broadband access at a White House event on Thursday. An existing U.S. infrastructure funding law is up for renewal by Sept. 30, and the administration sees that as a possible vehicle to push through a broader package, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the Trump proposal isn’t final and hasn’t been announced.”

Report: Members of Congress benefited from small-business loans - Politico: “At least four members of Congress have reaped benefits in some way from the half-trillion-dollar small-business loan program they helped create. And no one knows how many more there could be. It’s a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have acknowledged close ties to companies that have received loans from the program — businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive. Republicans on the list include Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, a wealthy businessman who owns auto dealerships, body shops and car washes, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, whose family owns multiple farms and equipment suppliers across the Midwest. The Democrats count Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada, whose husband is CEO of a regional casino developer, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell of Florida, whose husband is an executive at a restaurant chain that has since returned the loan.”

House Dems put pressure on WH over bailout oversight - NYT: “House Democrats opened an investigation on Monday into the distribution of more than $500 billion in small-business loans under a pandemic relief program, escalating a clash with the Trump administration as it resists oversight of trillions of dollars in coronavirus assistance funds. The announcement from the seven Democrats on a committee created to scrutinize how the administration is spending pandemic relief money came as Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, abruptly pivoted under pressure from lawmakers and said he would work to disclose more about where government-backed money was going through the lending initiative, the Paycheck Protection Program. It was the latest indication that, despite attempts by lawmakers to build layers of oversight into the largest stimulus program of its kind in modern history, an administration that has been hostile to congressional scrutiny continues to resist.”

Pence downplayed new outbreaks to governors - NYT: “Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors on Monday to adopt the administration’s explanation that a rise in testing was a reason behind new coronavirus outbreaks, even though testing data has shown that such a claim is misleading. ‘I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,’ Mr. Pence said on a call with governors, audio of which was obtained by The New York Times. ‘And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing.’”

MLB commissioner warns season could be off - WSJ: “The escalating labor feud between Major League Baseball and its players’ union walked to the precipice of a cliff Monday, when commissioner Rob Manfred said it is possible that there will be no season at all in 2020. Manfred’s statement came just five days after he guaranteed MLB would at least play an abbreviated season amid the coronavirus pandemic. But as talks with the Major League Baseball Players Association ground to a halt in recent days, Manfred said even the 50-game campaign that had been discussed is imperiled. ‘The owners are 100% committed to getting baseball back on the field,’ Manfred said. ‘Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100% certain that’s going to happen.’”

Fox News: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren is wading into a fierce primary battle in New York between longtime Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel and his progressive primary challenger -- middle school principal Jamaal Bowman. … The backing of the populist senator from Massachusetts and former White House hopeful who ended her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in March comes a week after Bowman was endorsed by two other big progressives in Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. … As he fights for his political life, Engel’s also getting help from some of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives. On Sunday and Monday, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee landed the backing of Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina – the third-ranking Democrat in the chamber – as well as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California and fellow New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus.”

Hillary in the fray, too - NYT: “Hillary Clinton delivered her first Democratic primary endorsement in a 2020 House race on Monday, throwing her support behind Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, who is trying to fend off a serious challenge from his left after more than three decades in Congress. ‘I have worked with Eliot Engel as first lady, as senator from New York and as secretary of state,’ Mrs. Clinton said in a statement provided to The New York Times. ‘Every step of the way, his No. 1 priority has always remained the same: delivering for his constituents.’ The endorsement puts Mrs. Clinton on the opposite side of a wave of progressives who are backing Mr. Engel’s leading challenger, Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; the Working Families Party; Justice Democrats; and MoveOn, the progressive advocacy group.”

Bullock feels coronavirus response boost in Senate bid - WSJ: “Three days after Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced his Senate bid, he declared a statewide emergency. That was March 12, before there were any known cases of the novel coronavirus in Montana. News broke the next day that four Montanans were ‘presumptively positive.’ On March 15, Mr. Bullock, the only sitting governor running for Senate, halted nursing-home visits. He also closed the state’s schools before hot spots such as New York and New Jersey did the same. … But with frequent news conferences on coronavirus, Mr. Bullock is commanding much more local media attention than his Republican rival, incumbent Sen. Steve Daines. David Parker, chairman of Montana State University’s political science department, found that the number of local news articles mentioning Mr. Bullock jumped from 184 in February to 809 in March, while Mr. Daines’s mentions remained almost the same.”

After a nearly two decade hiatus federal executions to resume - NPR

House sets D.C. statehood vote for June 26 - Roll Call

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s powers may remain despite moves to end rule by decree - NYT

“The only bad thing is I have completely lost sense of taste and smell. CAN’T TASTE BACON!!!” – Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., in his statement about his mild case of coronavirus.

“What was the reason for the statue being made and what was the honor that made it possible? Also is the Halftime Report a news or opinion report? Seems like you are more of an opinion than just the facts of the story. We can make up our own minds about what we think is right all you have to do is give us the facts of what is going on from both sides of the issue without stating what you think about the situation. If I can ask one more question, why are so many people against the President? That has never been stated that I have heard anyway only that he must be removed. He has been attacked ever since he announced his candidacy. All I've heard has been LIES about him he has done more for the country and citizens than any President has for a very long time. I don't agree with all of his tweets, but he doesn't leave any doubt about what he thinks and follows up with action.” – W.M. Hockett, Twain Harte, Calif.

[Ed. note: First, I can’t tell you how much I love the name of your town! It’s the first I’ve heard of it, and once I read up I was even more enamored of your little mountain community. A scenic wonder named after two great authors? I’m in. As to your first question, we have been talking here a great deal lately about American history in regard to the statue debate. I wanted to give the proponents of keeping up Confederate monuments their due. And while I certainly am not hesitant in my enthusiasm for Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, I did not mean to let a historical debate slide into current events. I don’t care what other people in other places want to honor or dishonor with names and statues on a local level. It’s their business and I happily leave them to it. Plus, few will ever do better than you guys with Mark Twain and Brett Harte! Anyway, I think we can let the matter drop for a while. As to your second question, don’t kid a kidder, Mr. Hockett… You know perfectly well that President Trump’s brand is about conflict and drama. You should not be surprised that a person whose political career has thrived on the reactions he elicits from his critics would have so many of them. His supporters, you included, I’d guess, like that he kicks over hornets’ nests. Consequently, he gets stung more than the typical politician. Now, Trump would have had plenty of naysayers if he had pursued the same policies in a polite, unassuming way -- every president does. No president has taken the oath without more than 40 percent of the electorate having voted against them since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But Trump loves the chaos and conflict in ways that no else ever has, so don’t act so surprised that he has detractors.]

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AP: “A man in Vienna has been fined 500 euros ($565) for breaking wind loudly in front of police — a move that the Austrian capital's police force was at pains to defend on Tuesday. The Oesterreich newspaper reported that the fine stemmed from an incident on June 5 and that the offender was fined for ‘offending public decency.’ City police wrote on Twitter that ‘of course no one is reported for accidentally ‘letting one go.’’ They added that the man had behaved ‘provocatively and uncooperatively’ during an encounter with officers that preceded the incident. He got up from a park bench, looked at officers and ‘let go a massive intestinal wind apparently with full intent,’ they said. ‘And our colleagues don't like to be farted at so much.’ Police noted that the decision could be appealed.”

“Clinton made humility his vocation, apologizing variously for African slavery, for internment of Japanese Americans, for not saving Rwanda. He even decided that Britain should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. A lot of good that did us.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Nov. 9, 2003.

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.