In bid for relevance, Obama mortgages Dems’ future

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Buzz Cut:
• In bid for relevance, Obama mortgages Dems’ future
• Gruber summoned to testify
• Clinton campaign gives donors open access
• Holder announces new rules for police ahead of expected riots
• Maybe they could get floating ones

President Obama
has just conscripted the members of his party – including its only viable 2016 contender – into another long and bruising battle over a deeply divisive topic. Those in the party who agree with the president’s assumptions are cheering, but other Democrats have deep concerns.

[For the third time in 6 years, President Obama returns to give a speech at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas today.]

Grabbing the wheel - Republicans are fretful, too. There is real fear on the red team about what happens over the long-term as the legislative branch is rendered increasingly irrelevant as well about what Constitutional purists in the GOP might try to do. But Democrats are even more nervous. Now that Obama has declared the separation of powers to be conditional – essentially ruling that there is a time limit for the legislative branch to meet executive demands – he has escalated a long simmering conflict and taken control of his party’s future in a frightening way.

[Democratic senators including Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. all expressed concerns about the president’s use of executive authority to grant the temporary amnesty.]

Big bets - Democratic hopes rest on unproven assumptions, chiefly that Republicans will overreact and that Hispanic voters will line up squarely behind the president. But these reckless actions could be a disaster for the party since the broad consensus on the left is that while the president did the right thing, he did it the wrong way. If the months to come do not deliver the expected Republican freakout and Hispanic adulation, Democrats could be heading into a very dark place.

[NYT’s Nate Cohn makes the case that the influence of Latino voters in future elections has been overstated.]

What if he’s wrong? - Rejecting the results of an election, acting against the wishes of the majority and doing so amid other, larger concerns is never a good recipe for success. Like the ObamaCare disaster at the start of his term, the president seems to have opted to close his time in office defending a controversial policy enacted through even more controversial means. As we have learned over the past four years, the way something is enacted – “if you like it, you can keep it” and “the stupidity of the American voter” – sometimes matters as much as the policy itself. If the president’s move remains unpopular, or if opposition to it intensifies, he will have dealt a serious blow to the national standing of his party.

[USA Today: “At least five Republican governors are considering a lawsuit against President Obama over his executive order on immigration.]

Dems worry about payback -  NYT: “Even if his directive is legally defensible, [former Obama administration attorney David A. Martin] said, Mr. Obama may be paving the way for future Republican presidents to act similarly to contravene laws that Democrats cherish. ‘It is problematic if presidents can just make major inroads in programs that Congress has enacted and funded,’ he said.”

“I’m not going to defend why he said so many times he didn't have the power and now he's evolved to say that he does have the power…I'm familiar with this type of executive orders and the president, he does have that power.” --Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, on “The Kelly File.” Watch here.

Which way will the wind blow? - David Drucker says: “For Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Obama’s sweeping immigration action could prove a boon or a burden. The move is popular with Latinos, and this growing demographic delivered 73 percent of its vote to Obama in 2012. It could further cement Latino support for Democrats two years from now. But initial public opinion polls show dissatisfaction with how Obama is using his claimed executive authority.”

Fox News Sunday: Cruz, Abbott, Becerra - Chris Wallace hosts Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., to react to policy issues surrounding President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. Republican Governor-Elect Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General, joins the conversation to discuss the legality of the President’s unilateral actions on immigration. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.

Sessions: Order can be blocked - The Hill: “Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Thursday rebutted claims by the House Appropriations Committee that President Obama’s executive order on immigration could not be defunded in legislation to avoid a government shutdown. “The American people’s Congress has the power and every right to deny funding for unworthy activities. It is a routine and constitutional application of congressional power. There is no question that Congress has the power to block this expenditure and no doubt that it can be done,” Sessions said in a statement.  Early Thursday, the GOP-led House Appropriations Committee said the strategy to defund the executive order would be “impossible” because the agency that issues work permits and green cards is funded by fees and not congressional appropriations.”

Embattled ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber has been called to testify before the House Oversight Committee, on Dec. 9. The committee will “examine transparency failures related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” according to a letter to Gruber from Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

[North Carolina fires Gruber - North Carolina has become the second state to terminate a contract with Jonathan Gruber due over his remarks in connection with selling ObamaCare to the public. WRAL has the deets.]

Prices Rise For Most Popular O-Care Plans - The Hill: “The average price of the most popular ObamaCare health insurance plans rose 10 percent for 2015, according to a new study of premium figures published Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…Not only are premiums increasing, but if consumers do not pick a different plan, they could pay more due to annual changes in how subsidies are calculated…”

Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton tweeted that she’s all in with President Obama’s temporary amnesty edict, but her campaign team’s energies are focused on buck raking. Clintonland is holding what amounts to a trade show for donor whales to sample the offerings of the campaign. Ready for Hillary, the super-PAC that is preparing to morph into the Clinton campaign operation, is hosting the event for several hundred of their richest friends in New York today. 

Name dropping -  The Hill: “Top donors…include Marc Stanley; a prominent Texas lawyer and chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council; Amber and Steve Mostyn, two trial lawyers from Houston; investor Sandy Robertson; Barbara Lee, the president and founder of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation; and Ronald Feldman, who owns an art gallery in New York…The donors will hear from several Washington political players, including Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; and Stephanie Schriock, the head of EMILY’s List. … Big names from Clinton World attending the event include strategists James Carville, Paul Begala and Harold Ickes, as well as Ace Smith, who is expected to play a crucial role in a 2016 campaign….Key Ready for Hillary officials including Adam Parkhomenko, and David Brock, who heads up the pro-Clinton super-PAC Correct the Record, will also be on hand, as will Mitch Stewart, Obama’s battleground states director in 2012.”

Liz smokes Hillary in liberal group’s poll - Populist darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., beat frontrunner Hillary Clinton almost 2-to-1 in a poll of “thousands” of the members of liberal group Democracy for America, according to multiple reports. Warren received 42 percent to Clinton’s 23 percent in the DFA poll of its members.”]

MoveOn warns Clinton: Back Keystone, lose your base
- National Journal: “The progressive group is pressing Hillary Clinton to come out against the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline, warning that she could lose Democratic voters if she doesn’t take a stand against the project.

The Week explores the slippery slope of Twitter’s attempts to stop harassment against women. “The social network’s instincts are admirable. But its latest effort could easily end up as a hunt for ideological heresies. Twitter’s initiative raises the specter of politically selective censorship — and of a paternalism no less demeaning to women than sexual slurs. For one, the gender-focused effort is based on a claim that, despite its instinctive appeal to many, has a shaky factual foundation: that women are singled out for cyber-harassment and are silenced and driven from internet spaces by misogynist abuse… [A]re women at higher risk of ‘gendered harassment’? That may be in the eye of the beholder. Many feminists who decry online insults that focus on women’s gender, sexuality, and appearance seem to have no problem with male critics of feminism being attacked as ‘man-babies,’ fat nerds, sexually frustrated virgins with microscopic genitals, or probable rapists. Meanwhile, when it comes to the right victims, Twitter’s new monitors are likely to define abuse quite broadly — enough to conflate vigorous dissent with abuse.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.3 percent//Disapprove – 53.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27 percent//Wrong Track – 66.5 percent

WaPo: “Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will take over as chairman of the Republican Governors Association for the next year after winning election at the group’s annual meeting held this week in Boca Raton, Fla. Haslam will succeed Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helmed the group during 2014 and helped it raise more than $100 million… Most of the money Haslam raises will carry over to 2016, when New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) takes over the RGA…Many of the big names in the ranks of Republican governors opted not to seek the chairmanship… after party insiders made clear that an RGA chairman would not be able to both run the organization and run for president at the same time. Democrats will elect a new head of the Democratic Governors Association at their meeting next month in Los Angeles, where Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s (D) term will end.”

St. Louis Post Dispatch: “With a grand jury decision on the Ferguson shooting death of Michael Brown expected soon, the Justice Department released new guidelines Friday to help "maintain public safety while safeguarding constitutional rights" of demonstrators who are preparing to gather in cities around the country after the decision is announced. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the new guidelines in a video posted Friday morning on the Justice Department's Web site. In it, Holder also exhorts protesters and police to keep the peace — to "minimize needless confrontation" — an extraordinary plea for calm before a local judiciary event from the nation's attorney general.”

AP: “…Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s foreign minister decided Friday to pull back from nuclear talks in Vienna, leaving the future of the negotiations unclear less than four days before the deadline for a deal. Members of the Iranian delegation to the talks said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was flying to Tehran for consultations. U.S. officials said Kerry was heading for Paris. A U.S. statement said Kerry's ‘future travel schedule is still being finalized, and we have not yet determined when he will return to Vienna.’ That suggested that he was waiting to see whether Zarif is returning and bringing new proposals before deciding to rejoin the talks….Expectations are growing that the Monday deadline for a full deal will be missed because of differences on how much Iran needs to reduce the size and scope of key nuclear programs.”

[WaPo reports on the growing concern in Congress that the Obama administration might cut a last-minute deal that would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program and LAT details opposition to an extension of the talks.]

This week Howard Kurtz welcomes guests including investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, Amy Holmes of The Blaze, Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik. Topics include: Immigration, an Uber executive’s talk of targeting reporters and the media mayhem surrounding Bill Cosby Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

The residents of Venice are tired of the daily grind… and rumble as many of the city’s 27 million annual visitors roll wheeled luggage over the stones of Venetian piazzas and bridges. Authorities are concerned about “growing noise pollution” associated with the influx of tourists and their heavy loads across the paving stones that cover many of the alleyways and bridges. The proposed ban would fine culprits up to $622 for the use of hard-wheeled suitcases. Officials hope production of air-filled wheeled suitcases which would be allowed under the law will increase but currently are very few are made. The Telegraph talked to Maurizio Dorigo, the council's planning director, who said that it’s not just Venice, but that the thunder of rolling luggage has become a problem for residents of the tourist meccas of Rome, Florence and Siena. “There needs to be a way for tourists to wheel around their luggage without making that crazy noise,” he said.

“This is an obvious attempt by the President to distract the Republicans, to enrage them, and to bait them into something that will undo the victory that they had on Election Day. This is a way to make the president relevant and to make him central.” —Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.