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On the roster: Partisan dysfunction drives demand for new choice - Pressure grows on Conyers to resign - Trump may step up campaign for Moore - Flynn’s time as intel boss under scrutiny - Science!
PARTISAN DYSFUNCTION DRIVES DEMAND FOR NEW CHOICE
Every day now, the remaining Americans who have the stomach to stick with either of the two major parties are put to the test: What is your partisan identification worth? What will you sacrifice on the altar of faction?
Would you excuse unrepentant sleaze? Would you avert your eyes even from criminal conduct? Would you tolerate flagrant ethical abuses? Would you support shoddy legislation? Would you countenance liars? Would you lie for them? Even to your children?
It’s a pretty high price to pay for membership in organizations that seem mostly devoted to self-perpetuation.
The way American parties have typically worked in the past 150 years has mostly been a force for good. Forcing popular sentiment through twin cooling towers, right and left, has mostly tended to keep things calmer and allow for decisive action when needed.
Watching Angela Merkel currently trying to sew together a pair of lederhosen out of the scraps of a dozen different parties illustrates the value of our two-party republic. Our kooks and nuts are first in line in the primary nominating process, yes. But they aren’t in a position to hold the whole government hostage at the end.
And the deal was pretty good for members of the parties, too.
In exchange for votes, contributions and participation, a partisan could mostly feel that their preferred policies were being pursued. And, they could also take pride in belonging to something bigger than themselves. Parties were for good ideas, but also for good people.
Now, when we see a sticker or a shirt proudly proclaiming membership in either party, we think “Have you seen the news? You might want to keep that under wraps just now…”
We have written many times before about the consequences of negative purpose in politics, but this bears repeating: Any organization that exists mainly to block another one will tend to devolve to the perceived rottenness of the opposition.
If we set the lower boundary of our own conduct based on what we perceive to be the worst behavior of people we expressly believe to be immoral and unpatriotic everybody ends up in the sewer.
And here we sit. Ker-plunk.
But fewer and fewer Americans are willing to stay there.
Independents now outnumber Republicans and Democrats, and it’s no wonder. It’s an increasingly bad (and embarrassing) deal. And that trend is just getting warmed up.
A new survey from NBC News and the University of Chicago shows partisan bonds among young adults beyond frayed. Yes, younger Americans continue to dislike Republicans more than Democrats. But even if the red team is in even worse odor with young voters than usual, that’s no glad news for the blue team.
Just 26 percent of respondents said the two parties were doing an adequate job and 71 percent said that a third party was needed.
By the time that generation gets into the electoral driver’s seat in the next five to ten years, those numbers may be down, but probably not enough to protect an increasingly dysfunctional status quo.
Plus as moderate and ethically minded voters flee the major parties, that will continue to intensify the hold that charlatans and cranks have. That means further flight of the thoughtful and decent. Grossness begets grossness, and so on.
It’s been more than 160 years since the beginning of an enduring new party, but it would be hard not to think that the political moment of opportunity isn’t at hand. The stunning failures of the existing duopoly and the degree to which technology has lowered barriers to entry make this a fertile time.
So what would work?
Yes, the rise of the Republican Party was a function of the inability of the Whigs to coherently address the most pressing issue of their time, slavery.
But that’s not why the Republican Party’s unlikely success in 1860 turned into two generations of political hyper-dominance. Obviously, having the electoral stronghold of your rival party under military occupation for 14 years does tend to offer some structural advantages. But the rapid rise to prolonged power for the ironically named Grand Old Party was because the new party embraced – and was embraced by – the growing merchant and managerial class that was budding from America’s industrial boom.
Democrats were beholden to three groups: Revenge-minded Southerners, mostly poor immigrants in the Northeast and the anti-industrial prairie populists of the West. Any party that had to accommodate the likes of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Boss Tweed and William Jennings Bryan didn’t have much room left in the tent to accommodate innovation.
The party that could accommodate that new energy not only endured but thrived. If someone figures out how to harness the dissatisfaction of the 71 percent of young people let down by the current system, they’ll have a winner.
THE RULEBOOK: SEEK THE GOOD
“There is in every breast a sensibility to marks of honor, of favor, of esteem, and of confidence, which, apart from all considerations of interest, is some pledge for grateful and benevolent returns.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57
TIME OUT: THAT’S A LATTE SACRIFICE
History: “On this day in 1942, coffee joins the list of items rationed in the United States. Despite record coffee production in Latin American countries, the growing demand for the bean from both military and civilian sources, and the demands placed on shipping, which was needed for other purposes, required the limiting of its availability. Scarcity or shortages were rarely the reason for rationing during the war. Rationing was generally employed for two reasons: (1) to guarantee a fair distribution of resources and foodstuffs to all citizens; and (2) to give priority to military use for certain raw materials, given the present emergency. At first, limiting the use of certain products was voluntary. For example, President Roosevelt launched ‘scrap drives’ to scare up throwaway rubber-old garden hoses, tires, bathing caps, etc.–in light of the Japanese capture of the Dutch East Indies, a source of rubber for the United States. Collections were then redeemed at gas stations for a penny a pound.”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -18 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.2 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.]
MAY REBUKES TRUMP FOR PROMOTING FRINGE GROUP
AP: “President Donald Trump retweeted inflammatory videos from a fringe British political group Wednesday that purported to show violence being committed by Muslims, drawing quick condemnation from civil rights groups as well as a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May. Trump retweeted videos from Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right British group whose profile was elevated by Trump’s attention. May spokesman James Slack said Britain First seeks to divide communities through its use of ‘hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.’ He said ‘it is wrong for the president to have done this.’ But May’s office said an invitation for Trump to pay a state visit to Britain was not being withdrawn, amid calls from opposition politicians for the visit to be canceled. The group’s tweets read: ‘VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!’ and ‘VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!’ and ‘VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!’”
Trump: ‘Why aren’t our deep State authorities’ investigating Clinton - The Hill: “President Trump on Tuesday asked why ‘deep state authorities’ aren’t looking into the handling of the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, referencing a guest who had just appeared on Fox News. ‘Charles McCullough, the respected fmr Intel Comm Inspector General, said the public was misled on Crooked Hillary Emails,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Why aren’t our deep State authorities looking at this? Rigged and corrupt?’ McCullough, who was appointed to his post by former President Obama, said in an interview on Monday with Fox News that he experienced pushback from Democrats when he tried to explain the seriousness of the investigation into Clinton’s emails. ‘I’ve heard people say this is overblown, I’ve heard people say this is much ado about nothing. Had the information been released, there would have been harm to national security,’ McCullough said in the interview.”
Trump tweets, deletes suggestion that TV host may be a murderer - Fox News: “President Trump dredged up a notorious old mystery with his latest bomb at NBC, citing the bizarre death 16 years ago of a young female staffer in the office of then-congressman and current ‘Morning Joe’ co-host Joe Scarborough. The story of Lori Klausutis has dogged Scarborough on the Internet since she was found dead in his Florida district office on July 19, 2001. Although Scarborough was out of town — and the medical examiner later ruled she had died after falling and hitting her head on a desk — conspiracy theorists have long speculated, with no reliable evidence, that Scarborough could have been somehow involved in Klausutis’ death. And now the president appears to be joining in. ‘…And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!’ Trump tweeted.”
TRIGGERED: ANTI-DEFICIT MEASURES TRIP UP TAX PLAN
WaPo: “Outside groups on the right are furiously mobilizing against an agreement that Republican leaders made with Bob Corker yesterday to get the tax bill through the Senate Budget Committee. The Tennessee Republican negotiated a budget deal in September that the tax cuts cannot increase the national debt by more than $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Now he’s concerned about various gimmicks and overly rosy assumptions in the bill that would almost certainly mean the true impact on the debt is far greater than that. So the retiring senator has been pushing in recent days to include a ‘trigger’ that would automatically increase taxes down the road if the bill fails to generate the level of economic growth that Republicans leaders keep publicly predicting. It’s not clear what exactly GOP leaders promised Corker… He said the amendment will be included in an updated version of the bill that is likely to be released publicly on Thursday.”
CEO’s plan to reward investors, undermining Trump - Bloomberg: “Major companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. say they’ll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders, undercutting President Donald Trump’s promise that his plan will create jobs and boost wages for the middle class. The president has held fast to his pledge even as top executives’ comments have run counter to it for months. Instead of hiring more workers or raising their pay, many companies say they’ll first increase dividends or buy back their own shares. Robert Bradway, chief executive of Amgen Inc., said in an Oct. 25 earnings call that the company has been ‘actively returning capital in the form of growing dividend and buyback and I’d expect us to continue that.’ Executives including Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, Pfizer Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio and Cisco CFO Kelly Kramer have recently made similar statements.”
Johnson not backing down in tax fight - WaPo: “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) watched angrily last fall as his fellow Republicans gave up on his reelection campaign, convinced he was doomed and that their dollars and hours would be better spent elsewhere. A year later, Johnson is still in the Senate but also a key holdout vote in the Republican effort to overhaul the tax code — and those political calculations, along with the ill will they bred, are coming back to haunt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow heads of the GOP. Johnson surprised party leaders this month when he said he would vote against the Senate version of the GOP tax plan, saying it favors corporations over other businesses. To vote for the bill, he is asking for a large-scale restructuring that could add more than $100 billion in benefits for certain businesses.”
Trump v. ‘Chuck and Nancy’ makes shutdown more likely - The Hill: “The odds of a government shutdown grew dramatically Tuesday as President Trump tweeted that he saw no path to a year-end deal with Democrats ‘Chuck and Nancy,’ who then promptly backed out of a meeting at the White House. Shortly after Trump’s ‘I don’t see a deal!’ tweet, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said they didn’t see the point of sitting down with Trump. ‘If the President, who already said earlier this year that ‘our country needs a good shutdown,’ isn’t interested in addressing the difficult year end agenda,’ the Democrats said in a statement, ‘we’ll work with those Republicans who are, as we did in April.’”
But, the NoKo missile launch will bring them all together Trump says - USA Today: “While berating Democratic leaders for skipping talks about a new spending plan, President Trump said Tuesday he hopes the latest missile launch by North Korea will bring his political critics back to the table. ‘They should be calling immediately and saying we want to see you,’ Trump told reporters at the White House, saying the latest missile launch by North Korea ‘will have a huge effect’ on budget talks. The launch came less two weeks after a Trump trip to Asia in which he asked China and other nations to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons program. ‘I will only tell you that we will take care of it,’ Trump said.”
PRESSURE GROWS ON CONYERS TO RESIGN
WaPo: “The political future of Congress’s longest-serving member, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), appeared precarious Wednesday as Democratic leaders and some female lawmakers pressured him to resign over allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple female aides. At the same time, members of the Congressional Black Caucus refused to publicly call for Conyers’s resignation, underscoring the tensions among Democrats over whether the 88-year-old should step down. After a meeting of House Democrats, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) huddled in an adjoining basement conference room. Emerging an hour later, Richmond would not say whether his caucus would call for Conyers to resign his seat. Both Richmond and Clyburn responded abruptly when reporters noted that other prominent men accused of harassment — such as NBC’s Matt Lauer and CBS’s Charlie Rose — were fired or stepped down from their positions faster than Conyers.”
New bipartisan bill to expose names of lawmakers covering harassment claims -Townhall: “A new bill co-sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) aims to out lawmakers who have settled harassment claims with taxpayer dollars. The bill will be unveiled at a press conference at 3 p.m. EST. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is alleged to have settled a harassment complaint with taxpayer funds. … Earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Rice left the Democratic Conference meeting, saying that she did not think the allegations of harassment against Conyers and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) were being taken seriously. Rice has called for both Conyers and Franken to resign from their positions.”
TRUMP MAY STEP UP CAMPAIGN FOR MOORE
Politico: “President Donald Trump isn’t planning to go to Alabama, but he still might use the weight of his office to help elect scandal-tarred Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The White House is considering flooding the state with robo-calls, emails, and text messages in an offensive designed to activate the president’s supporters on Moore’s behalf, three people familiar with the discussions said. An administration-sanctioned super PAC, America First Action, is conducting polling in the state as it weighs a possible 11th-hour barrage. Any White House-approved move would inject the president directly into a Senate race that is generating national headlines and become a focal point in a national conversation about sexual impropriety. Moore is confronting allegations that he sexually pursued teenage girls while in his 30s. With the Dec. 12 special election fast approaching and polls showing a narrowing race, the Alabama contest is commanding the attention of Trump and top administration officials.”
Moore’s accusers continue to speak out - WaPo: “Leigh Corfman, who says Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore touched her sexually when she was 14 and he was 32, has written him an emotional letter insisting he stop calling her a liar. Corfman wrote and hand-delivered the letter to AL.com Tuesday after hearing that Moore, now the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, had called her and several other women’s accusations ‘completely false’ and ‘malicious’ at a campaign rally in Henagar, Ala., on Monday night. It was his first public appearance in almost two weeks. ‘When you personally denounced me last night and called me slanderous names, I decided that I am done being silent,’ Corfman wrote.”
Sure, sure… Sinema says Trump is ‘not a thing’ in race to replace Flake - USA Today: “U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema hopes to be the first Arizona Democrat to win a high-profile statewide race in more than a decade. But unlike many of her Democratic colleagues on the ballot in 2018, Sinema doesn't plan to use President Donald Trump’s controversial tenure to help her win. Sinema — who represents Tempe and parts of Phoenix, Chandler and Mesa in the House — is the Democratic front-runner for Arizona’s open Senate seat. But she is running less as a Democrat than a problem solver willing to work with anyone, regardless of party. Trump is ‘not a thing,’ Sinema said when USA TODAY asked about her pitch to voters. Sinema added that the controversial president is “not a part of what I think my constituents are worried about or think about.”
Controversial coal CEO roils W.Va. GOP Senate primary - WCHS: “Eyewitness News has learned that former Massey Energy chief executive officer Don Blankenship plans to run for U.S. Senate. Blankenship filed his federal election official papers Tuesday. He will be running as a Republican. He is one of the most well-known figures in West Virginia and has continued to push for a full investigation of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in 2010. Blankenship contends the Mine Safety and Health Administration caused the blast after it reduced the ventilation air flow through the mine. Blankenship has been a long-time critic of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Manchin, a Democrat, is seeking re-election. In the Republican primary, Blankenship will square off against U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.”
FLYNN’S TIME AS INTEL BOSS UNDER SCRUTINY
The Hill: “Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn may be under investigation for his activities during his tenure at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under former President Obama, according to a letter from the agency sent to BuzzFeed News. The letter, which came in response to a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request, denied a BuzzFeed reporter's request for Flynn's emails, job evaluations and other records from his time heading the DIA, saying that releasing the documents could ‘interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigative activities.’ ‘Upon review of your request, I have determined that the release of potentially responsive records concerning LTG Flynn could reasonably be expected to interfere with on-going law enforcement investigative activities,’ it reads. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting the criminal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election, has previously been reported to be looking into Flynn's activities since leaving the DIA in 2014.”
Trump believes Mueller probe will be done this year - The Hill: “President Trump has told friends in recent days that he’s confident special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia will be done by the end of the year, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. ‘This investigation’s going to be over with pretty soon,’ Trump told friends at his Mar-a-Lago estate and golf club in Florida, according to the newspaper. … In the aftermath of Mueller’s first indictments in the probe, the White House said it felt confident the investigation would be wrapping up in the near future. White House special counsel Ty Cobb said earlier this month that he believes Mueller’s teams will ideally conclude interviews after Thanksgiving, and the entire probe would be resolved in early January.”
Clinton Foundation understated support from firm associated with Russian nuclear company - The Hill: “The Clinton Foundation’s donor disclosure site vastly understated support that the Clinton Global Initiative received from APCO Worldwide, a global communications firm that lobbied on behalf of Russia’s state-owned nuclear company. The site, created to detect conflicts of interest for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of her family’s various charitable efforts, shows APCO gave between $25,000 and $50,000 over the last decade. But according to interviews and internal documents reviewed by The Hill, APCO was much more generous and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in pro-bono services and in-kind contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) between 2008 and 2016.”
Donald Trump Jr. to meet with House Intelligence Committee - CNN: “Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to meet with the House Intelligence Committee as soon as next week, giving lawmakers their first opportunity to question President Donald Trump's eldest son over his contacts with Russians during the campaign season, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter. Trump Jr.'s highly anticipated testimony, scheduled for December 6, comes as he has faced growing questions on Capitol Hill about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where he met with Russian operatives after being promised dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”
Trump health nominee to make first public appearance and moves on ObamaCare - The Hill
Judge refuses to block Trump pick for consumer agency - AP
Kennedy opposes Trump judicial nominee due to candidate’s personal connections to Trump admin -Politico
Bipartisan baseball… Kamala Harris evens up with Ted Cruz on World Series bet - ABC News
AUDIBLE: AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT
“I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real.” – Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., reportedly said after walking out of the House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday morning before it concluded.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“You said: ‘Those fears brought into plain view today as the Democrats made clear that they are going to make Republicans sweat every way they can.’ Just remember Chris, Trump started this dance first with his Tweet [Tuesday] morning prior to the meeting. Why? What reason does he have to craft this episode of Apprentice in this fashion? Did Nancy and Chuck fall neatly into his trap? I suspect this was orchestrated so has to unify the Republican Senators and put the Fear of Trump into them and pass the tax bill. Remember, it’s all about ‘Winning’!” – Joyce Moore, Astoria, Ore.
[Ed. note: The merits of a strategy can only ever be seen in hindsight. As we wrote on Tuesday, Trump has obvious reasons to rough up the Democratic congressional leaders ahead of his tax pitch with Senate Republicans. Similarly, they had good reason to express such deep umbrage at Trump’s taunt. What we will find out in the next four weeks is who has the greater pain threshold as consequences of inaction start to pile up.]
“Most everyone is painfully aware of the continuing discord in DC, regarding the new ‘tax plan.’ I have several thoughts, on which I would appreciate your comments. First - logic tells me that, perhaps, the corporate tax should be completely done away with; profits passed directly to shareholders, and they be taxed at that level. Second, as I understand it - most spending programs adopted by Congress do not have specified dates for ending, or renewal. Last, why should it be that ‘pork’ can be hung on bills, where it is totally irrelevant?” – Ernie Weaver, North Port, Fla.
[Ed. note: A word about “budget reconciliation,” Mr. Weaver. In order to expedite the budget process in the 1970’s, the Senate adopted rules that allowed for the perfunctory business of budgeting to be handled on bare-majority votes. To make sure that the train didn’t go too far off track, the rules require that taxes and spending basically balance out over a 10 year window. This was not a problem back when Congress passed the budget and when both parties actually paid more than lip service to issues of debt and deficit. Unable to govern through normal procedure anymore, the Senate has come to rely on the budget backdoor to try to pass large-scale initiatives. What was supposed to make ordinary business easier has ended up being a tool for extraordinary measures while the basics have come to be nearly impossible. One of the reasons that legislation often takes such weird forms is because of the effort to conform to the arbitrary 10-year window. Lawmakers try to game the Congressional Budget Office with fiscal tricks to try to get things to add up in the end, focused on painting political outcomes rather than good policy.]
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Yahoo: “A man in Australia was sacked after he relied on a 180-year-old scientific discovery to help prevent his colleagues discovering his whereabouts while he played golf during work hours. Tom Colella, a 60-year-old electrician in Perth, lost his job after an anonymous letter to his firm claimed that he left work to play golf at least 140 times over the last two years. Australia’s Fair Work Commission, a workplace tribunal, heard that Mr. Colella blocked his whereabouts by storing his personal digital assistant, a phone-like device that has a GPS inside, in an empty foil packet of Twisties, a puffy cheese-based snack that is popular in Australia. The tribunal found that the packet was deliberately used to operate as an elaborate ‘Faraday cage’ - an enclosure which can block electromagnetic fields - and prevented his employer knowing his location. … Mr. Colella is now reportedly working as an Uber driver.”
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.