It's the ignorance, stupid

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On the roster: It’s the ignorance, stupid - Slim chance remains for TrumpCare in House - House GOP looks to stave off shutdown for one week - I’ll Tell You What: What the FERC?? - (Pop)eye of the tiger

Politics is gross. America is awesome.

Let’s start with that basic stipulation. America is not just better than its politics; its politics is actually unworthy of a republic so magnificent.

This bears mentioning just now because while this concept is perfectly obvious, it is also apparently easily forgotten – as is evidenced by the foolish fashion in which large numbers of our countrymen are conducting themselves.

The very fact that there is a conversation taking place about the rights of people to express even the vilest ideas should be terrifying to people who understand that politics should be subservient to liberty. Our Constitution says that the government may not prohibit you from speaking, but our civilization tells you that being offended may be a necessary component of that larger freedom.

The current controversy surrounds what could charitably be called the failed American higher education system and the unwillingness of students and faculty members to tolerate opposing views.

Mostly the conflict is cast as a left/right issue in which liberal “snowflakes” are refusing to allow putative conservatives from speaking on campus. This simplistic definition favors the interest of both sides in these little dramas. Opponents of free expression can style themselves as anti-fascist and provocateurs on the right can pretend they’re being persecuted for their views rather than their provocations.

But this isn’t about politics. It is about the cancer that is growing within our country: ignorance.

America’s elites are much given these days to complaining about the condition of the republic. Appalled by the results of the 2016 election and dismayed by what they see as a rightward lurch toward authoritarianism, America’s betters have concluded that some darkly conservative ideological impulse is behind the recent trend.

The truth, instead, is that after decades spent dumbing down students appreciation and understanding of American history and government, too many of our citizens are unable to grasp the basic concepts of which any eighth grader should have mastery.

At the risk of sounding alarmist, we would submit that the current ignorance is not only a crisis but the first wave of an onrushing sea.

There is no hope currently that the humanities in general or civics and history in particular are making a comeback in our schools. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

Almost all of the leading lights in reforming our sclerotic educational system are focused on what is deemed practical and pragmatic: job training, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But who will advocate for teaching children and college students how to be good citizens?

One of the reasons that illiberal regimes dominate most of human history is that it’s just easier to be a subject than a free person. We do not have a republic because it’s the natural order of things, but rather through force of determined will and the sacrifice of millions of men at arms, we have created and preserved one.

Part of the rationale for government-run schools was from the beginning that to live up to the Jeffersonian ideals of our founding, even the poorest Americans would need enough education to sensibly participate in their own government.

Now, schools are part medium-security correctional institutions and part surrogate parents even before they are about the business of teaching. This is an understandable result of the diminishment of our culture, but it also is contributor of the same decline.

The profound stupidity to which Americans discuss their government now would be enough to make the Founders weep. Heck, not just the founders but probably even leaders from just 50 years ago.

Partisans invariably blame their counterparts on the other side for the problem. Empty-headed tribal warfare dictates that any problem must ultimately be turned into political advantage through creative blame placement. This is what we do now instead of making things better.

But if Americans across the political spectrum who still understand the virtues of the American system were being honest, they would admit that this current crisis is not about ideology. It is about ignorance.

“If we continue united, we may counteract a policy so unfriendly to our prosperity in a variety of ways.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 11

WaPo: “Some 130,000 years ago, scientists say, a mysterious group of ancient people visited the coastline of what is now Southern California. More than 100,000 years before they were supposed to have arrived in the Americas, these unknown people used five heavy stones to break the bones of a mastodon. … Then the people vanished. This is the bold claim put forward by paleontologist Thomas Deméré and his colleagues in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The researchers say that the scratched-up mastodon fossils and large, chipped stones uncovered during excavation for a San Diego highway more than 20 years ago are evidence of an unknown hominin species, perhaps Homo erectus, Neanderthals, maybe even Homo sapiens. If Deméré's analysis is accurate, it would set back the arrival date for hominins in the Americas and suggest that modern humans might not have been the first species to arrive. But the paper has raised skepticism among many researchers who study American prehistory.”

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Trump net job-approval rating: -9.4 points
Change from one week ago: +2.2 points


Axios: “For all of the talk that this might finally be House Republicans' chance to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the big picture is that there's still a bitter divide within the party… They're closer to the goal of fulfilling a campaign promise, but they're about to take a vote that will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as abandoning sick people. The new amendment by Rep. Tom MacArthur, a leader of the moderate Tuesday Group, has shifted the health care bill substantially to the right. It's not everything conservatives wanted on loosening the ACA's insurance mandates, but there's more in it for them than for moderates. The endorsement of the conservative Freedom Caucus was big step forward for Republicans, since they were some of the main holdouts. That may be bringing Republicans closer to 216 votes. … A Friday vote is looking less likely now, but not impossible.”

WaPo: “House Republicans introduced a stop-gap spending bill late Wednesday night to allow negotiations on a spending agreement to continue through May 5 without the threat of a government shutdown. The short-term spending measure, which would extend current funding levels beyond the end of this week, comes as negotiators are nearing an agreement on a budget to increase military spending and border security and keep the government open through the end of September. The decision to begin work on a very short extension comes as no surprise, the final steps of a spending deal could drag on beyond the current April 28 deadline and congressional leaders are eager to minimize the threat of a shutdown, according to aides familiar with the talks.”

High hopes big questions surround bold tax plan - AP: “Dismissing concerns about ballooning federal deficits, President Donald Trump on Wednesday proposed dramatic tax cuts for U.S. businesses and individuals - outlining an overhaul his administration promises will spur economic growth and simplify America's tangle of tax code rules. His proposal, a one-page sketch short on detail, would reduce the top corporate tax rate by 20 percentage points and allow private business owners to claim the new lower rate for their take-home pay. … Despite the details provided Wednesday, the proposal leaves significant open questions that could affect its impact on taxpayers and the economy.”

Fox News: “Currently 45 percent approve of the job [President Trump is] doing. … far below Barack Obama’s 62 percent approval and George W. Bush’s 63 percent approval at this same point in their presidencies. … The president’s best job ratings are on handling ISIS (54-37 percent), terrorism (51-43 percent), and the economy (48-44 percent).  He gets lower ratings for his handling of taxes (40-44 percent), foreign policy (43-49 percent), and immigration (44-54 percent). His worst ratings come on health care, where he’s underwater by 21 points (35-56 percent). Folks want Washington to work on health care.  When asked to pick between reforming the tax system and fixing the health care system, 71 percent prioritize health care.  Just 26 percent say taxes.  Among Trump voters, nearly twice as many say health care tops taxes (64-33 percent).”

[Watch Fox: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be interviewed on “Special Report with Bret Baier” in the 6 P.M. ET hour.]

AP: “President Donald Trump says the leaders of Canada and Mexico called him asking the United States to remain a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement and that he agreed. But in a post Thursday morning on his verified Twitter account, the president said his positive response was ‘subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA.’ He said relationships between the U.S. and Mexico and Canada are ‘very good - deal very possible.’ The White House had released a statement late Wednesday saying only that Trump assured the two leaders the U.S. wouldn't bolt NAFTA at this time. Campaigning for the presidency last year, Trump repeatedly assailed NAFTA, saying it was a bad deal for America. He also pledged that if elected, he would dump it.”

Have the past (almost) 100 days gone by fast or have they been dragging on? Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss all of the latest actions by the president as he nears his Saturday deadline. Plus this week’s food talk, Chris shares his knowledge on regional BBQ… hope you’re hungry. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

After NoKo briefing at White House, Senators say conflict could ‘escalate quickly’ WaPo

Pentagon investigating Flynn’s Russia payments Politico

Death by treaty: Stephen Dinan explains how Trump could use the Senate to kill Obama’s Paris Climate deal WashTimes

No end in sight for appointment drought at State Department NYT

Texas House approves sanctuary city ban - AP

Poll: Majority of young voters embrace Trump’s ‘deep state’ conspiracy theory 

Resist we much: Dems turn Trump opposition into useful political strategy Politico

“Yes, I wish I could say I was cliff diving in Mexico but the truth is I fell off a ladder while repairing something in my garage.” – Rep. Jason Chaffetz R.-Utah, said when explaining why a foot surgery will keep him away from Congress for multiple weeks.  

“Years ago, I tried convincing my math-major college roommate that the Martingale roulette strategy really works (where you keep doubling down until you win); until I learned that table maximums prevent you from doubling down more than 6 times, no matter how deep your pockets are. The house always wins. How about the House (with a capital H)? Any wins in sight?” – Leo Esses, Brooklyn, N.Y.

[Ed. note: I never knew it! My pockets are not deep enough to have ever seriously considered trying it out, but I’ve always loved the concept. As for the wins in the House, right now just not crapping out would be a big win…]

“Here we go again.  A healthcare law that is so bad that congress exempts themselves before it is even half way through the process.  They sure found one point they could all agree on.  I had hope that things were changing.  They should enact good laws that everyone can live under.  If this isn’t something that congress would want for their families then keep working until it is.” – Mike Martin, Tukwila, Wash.

[Ed. note: It is inconceivable to me, Mr. Martin, that members of Congress haven’t learned this lesson by now. There is no better way to convince Americans that the government is up to no good than when their representatives shield themselves from their own legislation.]

“I am a true believer in the economic argument that immediate tax reductions and real tax reforms will stimulate the economy and produce new investments, jobs, and ultimately increased tax revenues; and that the out of control National Debt if not capped will result in debt of such magnitude that it could  never be repaid and consequently debt service expenses becoming the largest item in the annual budget. Accepting these assumptions and realities present a Congressional Fence that can block any forward progress from being taken. I believe there may be a solution in linking the two concerns. Enact immediate tax reductions but link their continuation to a sunset timeline based upon the economy achieving a precise increase in GDP, employment numbers, tax revenues and other agreed upon economic measures.” –Herbert Caplan, Chicago

[Ed. note: Now that is a fascinating idea, Mr. Caplan! Sadly, it’s probably entirely too pragmatic to win much support in Congress. But I would love to see it tried.]

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Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano examines if the FBI’s involvement in the 2016 election is really to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss: “How could Comey justify the public revelation of a criminal investigation and a summary of evidence of guilt about one candidate for president and remain silent about the existence of a criminal investigation of the campaign of another?” More here.

The [New Orleans] Times-Picayune: “Elyse Chelsea Clark said yes -- to a big box of hot, fresh Popeyes fried chicken, that is. The New Orleans woman posted a gallery of photos to Facebook on Tuesday (April 26) showing her enjoying the glories of a stack of fresh Popeyes boxes with chicken and all the fixings. Her post, which was shot in the style of an engagement photo shoot, shows Clark … staring longingly at boxes of chicken, smooching a biscuit and frolicking in a park with a chicken tender in hand. The hilarious photos, which she captioned, "I SAID YES!", were credited to Whitney Tuckerof Whitness This Photography. An updated version of the Facebook gallery reads, ‘I never thought in a million years someone would love me this much.’ … Clark admits she does hope Popeyes sees the gallery and that she gets a response from the fast food chain.”

“The problem with tax reform is whenever you do that, as we did in '86, over the next three decades, the barnacles accumulate and you've got to clean it away. And if it can do that – if this tax reform can do that – that will be a triumph.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

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.