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On the roster: What real patriotism looks like - Walker warns of blue wave coming in Wisconsin - Pruitt tries damage control - Tariffs may be taxing for GOP in midterms - And they say there’s no dough in writing
WHAT REAL PATRIOTISM LOOKS LIKE
Wilmington, N.C. is home to a monument to the purest possible form of paranoid populism – the absolutely uncut moonshine of the philosophy.
An empty lot down on South 7th Street is all that remains of the Wilmington Daily Record newspaper, which was burned on November 10, 1898 as part of an honest-to-God coup, the only one recorded in American history.
Coup leader Alfred Waddell certainly knew he had done something legally wrong, but he believed that it was the right time for wrong things. After all, when men obey immoral laws, aren’t they being immoral themselves?
An opponent of secession before the Civil War and a man of exceeding dignity, Waddell had been one of the first Democrats elected to Congress in the state as Reconstruction began to lose its hold on coastal North Carolina in 1870.
But Waddell had been replaced in Congress by Daniel Lindsay Russell, a rare bird indeed: a reformed Confederate of the landed gentry who joined the Republican Party. He was elected to the House and, 16 years later, as governor, on a “Fusionist” ticket.
What they were fusing were the few white Republicans, the large number of black Republicans and the growing number of members of the Populist Party.
The financial panics and hard times of the 1890s were producing in North Carolina an increasing number of poor farm and industrial workers who cared less about race than they did about sharing the wealth.
Even after the troops had gone, black North Carolinians had managed to band together in large enough communities to provide mutual aid, comfort and most dangerously for Waddell and other members of the political establishment, self-governance and suffrage. And Wilmington and its environs were home to one of the largest, wealthiest African-American communities in the state.
Taken as a whole, the Fusionists were too great in number and swamped the Democrats in the state legislature and the governorship.
This was unacceptable to Waddell and other upper-caste men. And it was damned well insulting to poor white Democrats who found themselves still being dictated to by former slaves and their children. It was doubly humiliating since Reconstruction was supposed to have ended 20 years before, yet here Republicans had found a way to weasel their way back in.
When Democrats got back in power after Union troops left, they at once convened a constitutional convention in 1875 to pitch out the carpetbagger version from 1868 that middle and upper-class whites so despised.
Democrats jammed through 30 amendments to tighten voting eligibility, impose a forerunner of “separate but equal” on public schools, ban interracial marriage, and, most significantly, give the state legislature power over county and local governments. They hoped it would do as similar legislation did across the former Confederacy and prevent the scourge of “negro rule.”
But because of Fusionism, while black North Carolinians may not have been ruling, they were doing a far sight better than their counterparts in places like Alabama and Mississippi in the 1890s. And when the Fusionists passed new laws at the statehouse dropping property ownership requirements for voting– a boon to poor whites as well as blacks – the danger of a resumption of Reconstruction-era rule seemed all too real to the state’s elite.
After defeats in 1894 and 1896, Democrats decided to take drastic measures. State party Chairman Furnifold Simmons devised a strategy of “White Supremacy” in which poor whites who had made common cause with black voters would be shamed into supporting Democrats. More importantly, though, black voters would be frightened away from the polls and away from seeking office. That work fell to the Red Shirts, a paramilitary arm of the party that terrorized black churches and Republican meetings.
Waddell, a respected citizen and gifted orator, quickly rose to the forefront of the White Supremacy movement and became its intellectual leader, speaking across the state with calls for “Anglo-Saxon men” to do their duty.
“We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of Negroes,” Waddell, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, concluded at a campaign rally in Wilmington that fall, “even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”
The effort to steal the election largely succeeded across the state, with black Republicans and other Fusionist candidates bounced out of office. But not so in Wilmington, where black voters felt secure enough to head to the polls, despite the threats from Waddell & Co. and the black mayor and aldermen hadn’t even been up for election that year.
So the day after, Waddell led a group estimated at some 2,000 white men to take power by other means.
They started by burning the Daily Record, which had the temerity to say that many of the frequent claims of the rape of white women leveled against black men were false and that white men were guilty of crimes against black women, as well. Waddell’s men smashed and burned their way through black neighborhoods, destroying homes and killing an unknown number of those who stood in their way, but certainly dozens were killed and dozens more were banished.
Their reign of terror only ended when sometime before 4 p.m. when the mayor, aldermen and police chief of the city of Wilmington resigned at gunpoint.
What Waddell and the other White Supremacy leaders had done was surely illegal, but in their minds the Civil War had been illegal and Reconstruction had been illegal, too. The African Americans in power in their city and their state had, therefore, been put there illegally.
The Constitution, Waddell and his fellows wrote in the White Declaration of Independence that they used as their charter, “did not anticipate the enfranchisement of an ignorant population of African origin.”
And if it had been illegal, who was there to say so?
Waddell would serve a full term as mayor and Simmons would be rewarded by a grateful, all-white state legislature with 30 years in the U.S. Senate as part of a North Carolina congressional delegation that would remain all white until 1992.
In fact, Simmons would still be in the all-white U.S. Senate when Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929.
So keeping that empty lot in Wilmington in mind, when you consider the “dangers, toils and snares” through which America has come on matters of race, perhaps one of the greatest miracles of all is that King and his followers were willing to respect the law and work through the system.
There was plenty of reason for black Americans to assume that their struggle for equality in the mid-20th century would meet the same tragic conclusion as the one at the end of the 19th century.
And for some, like it did for King 50 years ago today, it did. But their willingness to believe that the American Creed could be made whole was a daring act of love for a country that had been an instrument of their oppression. That’s what you’d have to say real patriotism looks like.
THE RULEBOOK: STICK TO THE PLAN
“If the plan of the convention, therefore, be found to depart from the republican character, its advocates must abandon it as no longer defensible.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 39
TIME OUT: WHALE’S TALE
NatGeo: “In the never-ending symphony of the sea, there's a standout among the percussive pings of bottlenose dolphins and the plaintive calls of humpback whales. New recordings of the little-studied bowhead whale show that the mammals sing intricate and variable songs—more like jazz musicians than Beethoven or Bach. Other whale songs are predictable and simple ditties repeated over and over throughout seasons or years, says study leader Kate Stafford, a marine biologist at the University of Washington. ‘With bowheads, there are lots of different songs. Every year, it's just completely different.’ For her new study, Stafford deployed special recording equipment during the winters of 2010 to 2014 … in the Arctic. After analyzing five years of recordings of bowhead whale songs, she and her team found the animals frequently changed their songs over the season. She also found no examples of a song being reused from year to year.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -12 points
Change from one week ago: down 1 point
[Average includes: Gallup: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve - 56% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Marist College: 42% approve - 51% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 52% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 41.4 percent
Democratic average: 47.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6.4 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 0.6 points
[Average includes: CNN: 50% Dems - 44% GOP; Marist College: 44% Dems - 39% GOP; Fox News: 46% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 50% Dems - 40% GOP.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: GET BUSY
This week Dana Perino talks about her upcoming interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as Chris Stirewalt discusses the challenges ahead regarding trade. Also, enough food talk to make even Dana hungry! Plus, Dana answers questions from the mailbag and Chris tries out this week’s trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
WALKER WARNS OF BLUE WAVE COMING IN WISCONSIN
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Rebecca Dallet trounced Michael Screnock on Tuesday for a seat on the state Supreme Court, shrinking the court's conservative majority and giving Democrats a jolt of energy heading into the fall election. It marked the first time in 23 years that a liberal candidate who wasn't an incumbent won a seat on the high court. ‘I attribute it to Wisconsin voters standing up to special interests,’ said Dallet, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge. ‘I think they're ready to have fair and independent courts. I’m the candidate with the most experience, really standing up for the rights of Wisconsinites every day and I think people saw that and spoke out today and I’m quite excited by it, by the results.’ Dallet's sizable margin alarmed Republican Gov. Scott Walker enough that he posted a series of messages on Twitter warning he could be the victim of a ‘blue wave’ this fall.”
Emily Jashinsky: The enthusiasm gap is real - WashEx: “Dallet’s victory, the first open seat win for a liberal justice since 1995, is a reminder that Wisconsin is still a purple state. Even more, the results will be seen as another sign that an emergent enthusiasm gap is going to plague Republicans this midterm cycle. Early indications suggest high turnout in Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee and Dane Counties was not balanced out by high turnout in conservative counties like Waukesha.”
Dem super PACs give millions to Dem House races - Axios: “Two major Democratic super PACs are spending a combined $12 million on digital advertising focused solely on helping Democrats win 2018 House races. House Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action haven't finalized the list of races, but Priorities USA previously announced they wanted to focus on Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Why it matters: Democrats recognize that outside Republican groups will likely outspend them (as they have in Florida and Wisconsin), but they hope partnering together will give them advantage because they'll be working from the same plan. … The two groups ‘will be on offense on every front to hold Republicans accountable for the disastrous policies they’ve pushed and to maximize Democratic wins from coast to coast,’ said Charlie Kelly, House Majority PAC executive director.”
McConnell says a hurricane is coming for GOP this fall - Daily Beast: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) acknowledged this week that the 2018 midterm cycle could prove especially difficult for the Republican Party in the face of increased Democratic voter enthusiasm. In an interview with Kentucky Today, published Tuesday, McConnell admitted: “This is going to be a challenging election year.’ ‘We know the wind is going to be in our face,’ he continued. ‘We don’t know whether it’s going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5.’ McConnell said once again that the most important accomplishment, in his mind, of Donald Trump’s administration so far has been the number of conservative judicial appointments the president has gotten through. ‘I believe that’s the most important thing we’re doing,’ the majority leader said.”
Indian Senate race turns ugly - WaPo: “As metaphors for the Trump-led Republican Party go, it's difficult to beat Rep. Todd Rokita's new ad in the Indiana Senate race. In 30 seconds, the Republican congressman from Indiana discusses no policy issues and says basically nothing besides ‘I will support Trump the most,’ before throwing on a Make America Great Again hat for emphasis. The ad, titled ‘MAGA,’ is a remarkable little window into how at least one candidate thinks you win in today's GOP, and Rokita hopes it's his ticket to the Republican nomination to face Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) next month. …Rokita and his opponents have basically turned the primary into a competition over which candidate is the Trumpiest.”
Dems draw another contender for Cochran seat - Clarion Ledger: “Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton says he will run in the Nov. 6 special election for the U.S. Senate vacated by Thad Cochran. Shelton made the announcement in a news release Tuesday morning. He becomes the second Democrat to enter the race, alongside former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, who also represented the Delta in Congress. U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who Gov. Phil Bryant appointed to the seat, and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, both Republicans, are the only other two publicly declared candidates. … Multiple sources tell the Clarion Ledger that Shelton's decision to run is not the result of recruitment efforts from State Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, or national Democratic organizations.”
GOP goes all in for Arizona special election - Politico: “National Republicans, trying to prevent another special election disaster, are intensifying their involvement in an upcoming race for an Arizona congressional seat. House Speaker Paul Ryan will headline an April 18 fundraiser for Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko, according to a copy of an invitation to the event obtained by POLITICO. Attendees to the Capitol Hill fundraiser are being asked to give up to $2,500. Lesko, a former state legislator, is running for a suburban Phoenix seat that President Donald Trump won by 21 percentage points. Party officials say their internal polling shows Lesko with a comfortable lead over the Democratic candidate, physician Hiral Tipirneni. Yet Republicans are taking few chances after last month’s loss in a special election for a conservative Pennsylvania seat.”
Top GOP donor an admirer of Mao - Daily Beast: “As the Republican Party heads into one of the more difficult electoral climates in recent memory, it is leaning heavily on the financial help of a mysterious donor who is, among other things, tied to a nonprofit group that hails the greatness of infamous communist dictator, Mao Zedong.Sherry Li is not your prototypical GOP funder. She only started giving recently, and it’s not entirely clear what professional or ideological axe she has to grind. … But since last year, Li has contributed more than $400,000 to Republican candidates and party organs. She’s donated to the RNC directly, and to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee.”
PRUITT TRIES DAMAGE CONTROL
Fox News: “Embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt fired back at critics Wednesday, defending his decision to take a $50 a day condo rental and claiming he just found out about a controversial pay raise for two of his staff members. ‘My staff and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it,’ Pruitt told Fox News in an exclusive wide-ranging interview. When pressed to provide specifics, Pruitt said he wasn’t sure who would be held accountable or if the person who authorized the raise was a career EPA employee or a political appointee. ‘You don’t know? You run the agency. You don’t know who did it?’ Fox News’ Ed Henry asked. ‘I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it,’ Pruitt responded, though he didn’t say if anyone would be fired.”
Curbelo, Ros-Lehtinen call for Pruitt to resign - The Hill: “Two Florida GOP lawmakers on Tuesday called for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to either resign or be fired by President Trump. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) appeared to be the first Republican lawmaker to publicly request Pruitt’s dismissal. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) echoed his call shortly after. In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Curbelo said Pruitt’s ‘corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the Administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers.’ ‘It's time for him to resign or for [Trump] to dismiss him.’ Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, said in a statement that she was on the same page.
TARIFFS MAY BE TAXING FOR GOP IN MIDTERMS
Bloomberg: “President Trump may insist, as he did on Twitter Wednesday morning, ‘We are not in a trade war with China’ – but the $50 billion in tariffs his administration proposes putting on Chinese goods has already spooked markets, with a broad sell-off hitting U.S. stocks. The damage could also extend to the U.S. midterm elections. China on Wednesday said it would issue 25 percent retaliatory levies on roughly $50 billion of U.S. imports, including soybeans, cars, chemicals and aircraft. These levies appear to be targeted at states, particularly in the Midwest, where Trump’s support is strongest. But, crucially, many of these states also have pivotal Senate and gubernatorial races in November. The economic blow from new tariffs could upend many of these races, potentially shifting control of statehouses and the U.S. Senate to Democrats. … Political experts say the economic impact of Chinese tariffs on farmers may play out at the ballot box in November. ... That’s a potential boon for Democratic candidates. Three of the four most vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents hail from Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota – states that stand to be hit hardest by Chinese soybean tariffs.
McConnell voiced his disapproval - Courier Journal: “President Donald Trump may think trade wars are ‘good and easy to win,’ but Sen. Mitch McConnell said they'd be disastrous for Kentucky. ‘I'm not a fan of tariffs, and I am nervous about what appears to be a growing trend in the administration to levy tariffs,’ McConnell said. ‘This is a slippery slope, so my hope is that this will stop before it gets into a broader tit-for-tat that can't be good for our country.’ The U.S. Senate majority leader spoke to farmers and business leaders Tuesday in Shelbyville, expressing his concern about the Trump's rhetoric on trade wars and how they could harm their industry.”
Nationalists ascendant - WSJ: “During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, there were stretches when it appeared that, aside from his unorthodox style, he actually was governing as a fairly conventional conservative Republican. No more. Instead, Washington has moved into the period of Trump Unbound. Never was that more clear than on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump made three startling pronouncements that, taken together, almost perfectly encapsulate the way he now has set out to implement his nationalist, America-first agenda in more pure form. The president declared that he wants to bring U.S. troops home from Syria, a step that would mark a step back from the commitment to stabilize the wider region begun by fellow Republican George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
Gardner urges Trump to use NAFTA to block regulations - Denver Post: “U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is pressing President Donald Trump to use NAFTA negotiations to transform federal rule-making in a way that could thwart future environmental protections and other proposed regulations. The initiative, outlined in a letter Gardner and two fellow Senate Republicans sent Trump in mid-March, would use a retooled North American Free Trade Agreement to give Congress power it otherwise lacks: the ability to swat away any new federal regulation with an annual economic impact of at least $100 million. At the same time, their plan — billed as a way keep the U.S. economically competitive — could help advance a port project in Oregon that would make it easier for Colorado energy producers to sell natural gas to overseas markets. “It’s time to try a new and more innovative approach,” Gardner and fellow GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Steve Daines of Montana wrote in their letter to Trump.”
MUELLER READYING A REPORT, BUT FOR WHOM?
WaPo: “This week has brought several new clues that Bob Mueller views his charge as special counsel quite expansively. … Several legal experts speculated that Mueller’s plan to prepare reports might suggest that he does not believe he has the authority to indict a sitting president. It’s not settled law, but that was the conclusion of an opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 1973, which was reaffirmed in 2000. ‘The most interesting part of this piece is the revelation that Mueller wants to write a report on this,’ tweeted Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent who now teaches national security law at Yale. … The latest revelations offer a fresh reminder that the president’s culpability for any alleged wrongdoing would almost certainly wind up being a political matter decided by the legislative branch. That heightens the significance of the November elections.”
McMaster says U.S. has ‘failed’ on Russia - WashEx: “Outgoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the U.S. has ‘failed to impose sufficient costs’ on Russia, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin was mistaken to believe his county’s actions would avoid consequences. In a speech Tuesday evening… McMaster listed out Russia's tactics, including subversive infiltrating social media, spreading propaganda, and weaponizing information. ‘For too long, some nations have looked the other way in the face of these threats,’ McMaster said during a dinner hosted by the Atlantic Council. ‘Russia brazenly and implausibly denies its actions and we have failed to impose sufficient costs.’ McMaster said Putin was wrong if he assumed free nations such as the U.S. would not take actions in response to Russia’s behavior.”
DO-OVER? GOP DEBATES CUTTING SPENDING IN FUNDING BILL
Politico: “Facing pressure from conservatives for their budget-busting moves, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are considering forcing votes that would cut billions of dollars in spending from the bipartisan funding deal they just passed last month, according to sources familiar with the plan. White House officials are working closely with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on the rescission package, said the sources. It’s not clear which programs could be targeted or when the House would vote, although the White House had targeted dozens of programs in Trump's 2019 budget proposal. The White House also proposed nearly $15 billion in budget cuts as part of last year’s hurricane relief package, which were never acted upon. Under the 1974 Budget Act, a rescission resolution could pass the Senate on a simple majority vote. The political split in the Senate is 50-49 until Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith is sworn in to replace former Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).”
Senate still unclear about McCain’s future - WaPo: “Uncertainty about Sen. John McCain’s future has set off a flurry of hushed conversations and concern in the Republican Party about a possible vacancy that could make it harder for the GOP to hold its Senate majority. As the Arizona Republican battles brain cancer, party leaders are contemplating the unusual prospect of defending two Senate seats in the state this year — something they are already doing in Mississippi as they seek to improve on their 51-49 advantage in the midterm elections. McCain’s health has been shrouded in secrecy, leading many Republicans to privately wonder if he will remain in office beyond May 30. If he doesn’t, there would probably be a special election for his seat in the fall. Congress will return Monday from a two-week recess with no clear indication that McCain, 81, will be back.”
Planned Parenthood chief says Javanka a “bribe” to stop abortions - People
Who are Facebook’s investors in Congress? - Roll Call
Infrastructure policy adviser next to leave White House - The Hill
Heads up GOP: Teacher protests could cause problems - AP
Idaho candidate backtracks on death penalty for abortions - Fox News
AUDIBLE: ‘WHO AM I? WHY AM I HERE?’
“I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. But all my options are on the table. But I don’t know.” – Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, said during an interview with Fox News during his trip to New Hampshire.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“As I read your synopses of the various political races it strikes me that politics now has more in common with sports than governing. Banners, bumper stickers, trash talkin’, cheers, groans and lots of Monday morning quarter backing. All to win the title of senator, representative or what have you giving your supporters bragging rights. Basketball is probably the best simile with all the back and forth, fouls, shots taken, missed and hit. I suggest in the true spirit of modern politics we rename election month ‘Nutty November.’” – Eric Kindberg, Cincinnati
[Ed. note: I love it, Mr. Kindberg! And I will steal it in due course…]
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AND THEY SAY THERE’S NO DOUGH IN WRITING
Vanderbilt.edu: “The delightful worlds of food and books came together on the Vanderbilt campus April 2 for the Vanderbilt Libraries‘ first Edible Books Festival. Faculty, students and staff … submitted 46 entries that were made from anything that can be eaten, including cake, bread, crackers, gelatin, fruit, vegetables, candy and more—as long as it could be displayed for a few hours without melting or spoiling. Participants let their imaginations run free to create edible works of art inspired by a favorite book or author. … Most Creative: Give a Mouse a Cookie, Best Depiction of a Classic: Lard of the Flies (Lord of the Flies), Best Depiction of a Children’s Book: Hobbiton, Best Nashville or Southern Theme: Moonpie Sonata, Best Team Entry: Alligator, Funniest/Punniest: Farewell to Arms, Most Appetizing: Of Mousse and Men (Of Mice and Men), Judges’ Choice: Hornbook, People’s Choice: The Smallest One Was Madeleine. Following the judges’ remarks, everyone was invited to ‘eat the books.’”
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.