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On the roster: The Coast Guard is ‘always ready,’ Congress however… - May suffers devastating defeat on key Brexit vote - Under pressure, McConnell looks to hold the line - Barr in the swim after first day of testimony - A sweet cleanup
THE COAST GUARD IS ‘ALWAYS READY,’ CONGRESS HOWEVER…
What does it say about our addiction to partisanship that for the first time in our history the federal government is forcing men and women to serve in the armed forces without pay?
As we often point out, our job is not to tell anybody what to think about anything, but in the case of this farcically foolish shutdown we must point out how unworthy our government and politicians have become.
A defining moment in the making of America was threatened hostilities with France at the end of the 18th century. The short version is that France was demanding a bribe from our new government to not go to war. Up went the rallying cry authored by Rep. Robert Goodloe Harper, F-S.C.: “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute.”
Nothing is more American than the idea that we, like Ulysses and his men, “That ever with a welcome frolic took // The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed // Free hearts, free foreheads.” Americans cherishing the gift of liberty from their creator will be their doughty defenders.
So imagine how Harper’s heirs in Congress today could reach a point where they would stop paying the Coast Guard, literally the last line of defense for our nation. How did we get to a point of such pitiful dereliction over a meaningless, semantic argument over $3.1 billion?
However you think these matters should be resolved – which side should cave first or more in this dunderheaded showdown – doesn’t matter at this point. If you are so far gone to partisanship that you will not even take care of those who take care of your liberty, you are a hopeless case.
We are often asked by readers what it will take to get Americans to talk to each other and reason together. If this doesn’t do it we despair at the thought of what it will take and what magnitude of pain will be necessary.
But whatever happens, the moment when the politicians in a republic would rather attack each other even at the cost of the suffering of our military it starts to feel like a tipping point.
THE RULEBOOK: IT’S A GIVEN
“The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly regarded as a fundamental article of republican government. It was incumbent on the convention, therefore, to define and establish this right in the Constitution. To have left it open for the occasional regulation of the Congress, would have been improper for the reason just mentioned.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 52
TIME OUT: THE LAST HUNTER GATHERER TRIBE
Esquire: “About five centuries ago, on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, a tsunami obliterated the village of a band of hunter- gatherers now known as the Lamalerans. After a harrowing odyssey, the survivors built a new home on Lembata, a backwater island so remote that today other Indonesians call that corner of their nation ‘The Land Left Behind.’ The shore of Lamalera Bay is too rocky and parched to grow crops, but the newcomers soon discovered that even one of the sperm whales schooling just offshore would provide enough meat to feed everyone for weeks. To survive this harsh environment and the dangerous work, the Lamalerans evolved a unique culture that has been rated by anthropologists as one of the world’s most cooperative and generous, a necessity when it comes to coordinating dozens of men to defeat colossal whales and then equitably share the bounty.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 55.8 percent
Net Score: -16 points
Change from one week ago: down 4.6 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 37% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 37% approve - 59% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]
MAY SUFFERS DEVASTATING DEFEAT ON KEY BREXIT VOTE
Fox News: “British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a catastrophic defeat Tuesday as Parliament overwhelmingly rejected her Brexit deal with the European Union -- a defeat that places the future of Brexit in doubt and is likely to spark calls for May’s ouster via a general election. May’s withdrawal agreement was voted down 432-202, the largest in the history of the House of Commons. May was expected to lose, but the extent to which she lost was significant and marks a devastating blow for her leadership and her ability to go back to Brussels and negotiate further concessions. What happens next is unclear. Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc at the end of March, currently with no deal -- something that many MPs on both sides of Parliament, including May, have said would lead to significant disruption. Some MPs, particularly those who voted to remain in the E.U. in 2016, have called for Britain to delay its departure, or hold a second referendum.”
UNDER PRESSURE, MCCONNELL LOOKS TO HOLD THE LINE
Politico: “A handful of Senate Republicans are expressing frustration with their party’s handling of the ongoing government shutdown. But Mitch McConnell is a long way from facing any sort of rebellion. The Senate majority leader is standing firm in his resolve to not move a muscle on any government funding bill that would not have the president’s approval. That’s earned him scorn among Democrats given that he endorsed a funding bill that didn’t include the president’s much-sought additional border wall funding of more than $5 billion in December. But aside from some rank-and-file Republicans … who say Congress should again pass spending bills that don’t provide additional wall funding, McConnell’s allies say he’s facing little pressure to change his stance as the longest shutdown in history continues. … With Trump now opposed to those bills for being light on border security funding, most Senate Republicans say they are too.”
Parties take aim at potential turncoats - Politico: “The White House and Hill Democrats are each targeting defectors in the other party as they push dueling strategies to reopen the government — yet another sign that the 24-day shutdown is far from over. House Democrats on Monday announced a plan to take up a pair of short-term funding bills that would reopen federal agencies for several weeks without President Donald Trump’s border wall. They’re hoping to pick off support from wary House Republicans fed up with the weekslong partial shutdown and, ultimately, pressure the GOP-led Senate and Trump to get on board. At the same time, the White House is considering a last-ditch effort to woo moderate Democrats from red districts with the promise of a border security deal reopening the government, according to people familiar with the plans. Trump administration officials believe that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are too dug in to compromise.”
BARR IN THE SWIM AFTER FIRST DAY OF TESTIMONY
Fox News: “President Trump’s nominee for attorney general William Barr told senators during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he supports the president’s call for new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, while departing from the president’s public stances on the Russia probe. Asked about the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, Barr said, ‘I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it's imperative to have border security, and part of border security, as a common sense matter, involves barriers.’ Barr said a ‘barrier system across the border’ is needed for stopping illegal immigration and the ‘influx of drugs.’ But Barr – who pledged during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing to not interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation – also asserted his independence from Trump on statements related to the probe. Under questioning, Barr said he doesn’t believe ‘Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt’ – something the president has repeatedly argued.”
DEMS SUPER PAC TO START SOFTENING UP TRUMP EARLY
Politico: “Priorities USA Action, the top Democratic super PAC targeting President Donald Trump in 2020, is promoting its head of digital operations to a new role overseeing all paid media — something akin to a watershed moment in presidential politics. The move to install Danielle Butterfield as paid media director leading the organization’s integrated marketing effort, first reported by POLITICO, is a tacit acknowledgment of the growth of digital spending as a share of campaign ad dollars. It’s also a sign that the primacy of television and radio advertising, traditionally a presidential campaign’s biggest expense, is fading. While television remains the dominant platform for reaching mass audiences, the altered media consumption habits of Americans have caused a rethinking of the traditional reliance on TV ads as a campaign persuasion tactic. At the same time, Democrats have struggled to keep up with Republicans in the digital space.”
Trump troll setting: 10/10 - Axios: “Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is joining CNN as a contributor, serving as an analyst across the network, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker told his team Tuesday morning. The big picture: The 66-year-old Kasich, a former U.S. House member, has been one of cable news' most in-demand Republican voices as the party's only likely primary challenger to President Trump. John Weaver, a longtime Kasich adviser, told Axios: ‘The governor has strong insights to help guide conversations in our country in a positive direction and this new partnership with CNN gives him a great platform to do so.’”
Bern out? - Boston Globe: “But as [Bernie] Sanders weighs another campaign, some say that even as he has moved the Democratic Party ideologically — pushing issues such as Medicare for all, free college tuition, and a $15 minimum wage into the mainstream — the party has moved past him personally. ‘I don’t see a lot of lasting energy for Bernie,’ said Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos. The popular liberal website published an online poll last week of 35,000 users showing Sanders fifth and Senator Elizabeth Warren first among potential 2020 contenders. That was a shift from 2016, when Sanders was the consistent favorite in head-to-head matchups with Hillary Clinton. … Jonathan Tasini, a 2016 Sanders campaign surrogate who wrote the book ‘The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America,’ said the senator should consider backing a nationwide slate of left-wing candidates in 2020, rather than running for the White House.”
Pete Buttigieg, Mr. Millennial - WaPo: “[Pete] Buttigieg, the wunderkind mayor of South Bend, Ind., [is] one of the longest of 2020 presidential long shots… In short, his trial campaign run through the South is not proceeding quite as planned. … A normal politician might be miffed at the low turnout. A regular human being might not be looking quite so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed under the circumstances. But ‘normal’ and ‘regular’ are not adjectives that apply to the son of a Maltese immigrant father and an Army brat mom who grew up in decaying South Bend, got himself into Harvard, summer-interned for Ted Kennedy, worked for John Kerry’s presidential campaign …. and then — deep breath — volunteered for active duty in Afghanistan while serving as mayor, came out as gay in the local newspaper, married a schoolteacher live on YouTube … and had the New York Times’s Frank Bruni gushing about him as potentially the ‘First Gay President’— all by age 36.”
KING STRIPPED OF COMMITTEE POSTS FOR RACISM
Fox News: “Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was stripped of his committee assignments by his fellow House Republicans Monday evening following bipartisan condemnation of King's recent remarks on white supremacy and white nationalism. ‘We will not tolerate this type of language in the Republican Party ... or in the Democratic Party as well,’ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters. ‘I watched what Steve King said and we took action.’ In a formal statement, McCarthy said King's comments were ‘beneath the dignity of the Party of Lincoln and the United States of America. His comments call into question whether he will treat all Americans equally, without regard for race and ethnicity. House Republicans are clear: We are all in this together…’ … In a statement of his own, King insisted that his comments had been ‘completely mischaracterized’ and blasted McCarthy for what King called ‘a political decision that ignores the truth.’”
Pergram: ‘Longest-ever government shutdown sees no end in sight - Fox News
Q Poll: Shutdown doesn’t affect Trump’s approval rating - Quinnipiac University
Judge blocks Trump admin’s citizenship question from 2020 census - NYT
Marist Poll: Majority of Americans support abortion restrictions - Knights of Columbus/Marist
AUDIBLE: *WHISPERS* HE’S LOVIN’ IT
“I mean you’re not just gonna NOT eat the Big Macs stacked in a pile right?” – Matt Bockhorst, a Clemson University football player, tweeted in response to a viral photo of him staring longingly at a pile of McDonald’s burgers. Big Macs were only one of the many fast food options the president purchased for the team.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Fox News is no longer permitted to refer to our government as a Democracy. We have a Constitutional Republic. Period.” – Linda Norway, Rockledge, Fla.
[Ed. note: I will notify New York immediately, Ms. Norway.]
“‘Instagram husband?’ I, like many others, have not a clue what you are talking about and decided disinterest in ever find out.” – Joe Guyton, San Antonio
[Ed. note: It is true that we live in interesting times. It’s also true that we live in sometimes depressing times. The phenomenon of men making their living off of managing the career of a talented wife is hardly new. In fact men have made a living from the career of models before. What’s new here is the way social media scrapes us down and flattens us out as human beings. If you make your living by sharing your life with strangers (guilty, kinda) it causes some weird contortions. That people are able to make a living out of living is pretty amazing. That these “influencers” are now cottage industries with a dedicated staff/spouse is astonishing.]
“Good Afternoon Chris, I was curious as to how it is decided who gets to be at the round tables and such when a President makes a trip. Are the people given talking points at all when it is a trip that is meant to hammer home a policy whether it be a democrat or republican President making the trip. Just curious if you had any insight into behind the scenes of these trips.” – Jeff Cox, Broken Arrow, Okla.
[Ed. note: The White House advance team is quite a thing to behold. Every presidential visit requires many hours of preparation, not just for security but for the staging of events like the one you described. It’s possible that some administrations have provided talking points for participants, but I really wouldn’t think that’s necessary. They’re going to choose individuals with compelling stories who agree with the party line. The last thing you want is, as happened in some Obama town halls, embarrassing dissent. They want it to appear real but be fake. So, it’s just like Washington.]
“I have authored many responses to your email but will follow Dana’s advice and put them in ‘emails not sent.’ Besides, you control what you publish as reflected in the supportive email you did publish. Unreconstructed Southerner/ hot take aficionado.” – Bill Billips, Palm Harbor, Fla.
[Ed. note: Your restraint is admirable, Mr. Billips. And whether you consider yourself reconstructed or not, I greet you today as my fellow American and partner in this important work of preserving the republic.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
A SWEET CLEANUP
UPI: “The morning commute for some Arizona drivers was a little stickier than normal Monday as an accident involving a tanker truck caused ‘a river of chocolate’ to flow over the westbound lanes of the Interstate-40 near Flagstaff. The tanker truck was carrying some 3,500 gallons of liquid chocolate when it was involved in an accident, causing the vehicle to roll over and dump its sweet cargo on the highway, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a tweet. … The accident occurred before 9 a.m., blocking all westbound lanes, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. The lanes were reopened after 1 p.m.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“In retrospect, the populist panic may have been overblown. Regarding Brexit, for example, the shock exaggerated its meaning. Because it was so unexpected, it became a sensation.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on April 27, 2017.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland and Liz Friden contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.