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On the roster: On federal logorrhea – I’ll Tell You What: Shut up, they explained – House Dems huddle; Pelosi wants Mueller messaging – Biden will hit Va., Pa. on announcement day – ‘The fluffy vigilante’
ON FEDERAL LOGORRHEA
When the Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday on whether the Trump administration can include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, most of the debate will center on whether doing so would skew the results by discouraging immigrants from participating.
(The discussion will also no doubt include the ways in which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the cabinet member in charge, has screwed things up.)
But what really matters here isn’t just the latest in the ongoing antagonism between the Trump administration and blue states but rather the larger trend: An increasing number of Americans from all ethnicities and origins don’t trust their government enough to reply to its questions.
Here’s the WSJ: “Survey-response rates have been falling over recent decades. In 1990, when Americans were asked to participate in the Labor Department’s population survey, which is used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate, 4% declined. As of 2018, the nonresponse rate nearly quadrupled, to 15.2%. Another survey, used to calculate inflation, asks Americans to track spending on goods and services. In 1985, 86% agreed to help. Today, 61% do.”
Fewer responses mean less reliable data and less reliable data means less- or wrongly-informed decision making.
Some of it may just be sloth and some of it may be a general aversion to surveys, a trend that afflicted private-sector pollsters, too. But given the corresponding drop in Americans’ overall trust and confidence in government institutions, it’s hard to believe it’s not a significant factor.
We can blame the distrust of citizens for the government on a lot of things, existing as it does within the general public paranoia of the information age. But we can also blame it on the fact that the government has often been unworthy of our trust.
The government did not truly, systematically start domestic propaganda until the First World War.
For as long as we have been a nation, controversy has surrounded the use of government resources to tell partial or sometimes even entirely untrue stories to the same citizens on whom the government is supposed to be dependent.
In fact, there are none who would say it is a wholly good thing. There are many, though, who say it is at least sometimes needful.
And in that claim they have been right many times. Our back-to-back-to-back victories in the major global conflicts of the 20th century will stand in history long past the end of this millennium. They would not have been possible with a government that was entirely servile and transparent.
They wrote the Constitution in secret for a reason, people.
Sometimes effective and reasonable governance, especially during periods of national threat or dire uncertainty, requires the government to operate at some distance from the citizens who elected it. Abraham Lincoln still has his critics, but there are precious few outside the ranks of honest-to-goodness Confederate sympathizers who wish he had been even more restrained in his defense of the republic.
But Woodrow Wilson has a different story to tell.
He created the first ever organization inside the United States government that had the sole purpose of misleading the American people. If our enemies in the Great War could use mass media to direct the thoughts and ambitions of their citizens, would we rather lose the fight by self-restraint? If “the world must be made safe for democracy,” then maybe you have to fiddle with the democratic process just enough to make sure we the people don’t make bad choices?
The creation of the Committee of Public Information in 1917 is a watershed that does not get enough attention in our view of modern history – a true departure from the first 128 years of our history.
Does the government have a role to play in reinforcing the attitude and outlook reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? You bet. Does the military have the need to encourage able, sound recruits or motivate conscripts? We should hope so.
This is a government designed to serve the people of this particular nation. The government we elect gets to pick our flag, our symbols, our currency and our even our name.
Moreover, there is an unwritten, yet tradition-bound role of our national political leaders in the major and minor civic sacrosanctities. Somebody has to throw out the first pitch, why not the guy who has George Washington’s job?
But anything beyond that, especially that which is funded by taxes paid by the same citizens whom the government is trying to manipulate, are found objectionable by many — especially if the political party opposite of theirs is the one doing the manipulation.
Most of the object of the American system is on making sure that the government is responsive to the direction and needs of the populace. But the object of the Bill of Rights is substantially about what the government can tell the people. The government cannot people what to say. The government cannot tell the people with whom they will associate. The government cannot tell the people what and where to worship.
But on seemingly every issue not circumscribed by the Constitution, the government tells and tells and tells us. Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage/Celebrate Diversity/Distracted Driving Awareness/Donate Life Awareness/Jazz Appreciation Month to all who celebrate…
And when the executive branch changes hands between parties, the priorities and spin can turn on a dime. One day it’s all about energy efficiency, the next day it’s all about energy production. And nearly all of it, even the stuff that isn’t obvious cant, has a political motivation within it.
Just image when the Founders would have said about the resources of a $4-trillion-a-year federal government being used to employ an army of flacks and spin-meisters the very purpose of which is to shape the way Americans think, act and feel – including about the government itself. The Constitution did not contemplate the communications director.
No matter. The howitzers pounding out this pap will blaze on undiminished. And few will likely consider the fact that if the government wanted to hear more from citizens on surveys and elsewhere, it might be wise to listen instead of talk once in a while.
THE RULEBOOK: BUT OTHER THAN THAT, IT’S GREAT
“To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 6
TIME OUT: SCOOT
Smithsonian: “The Online Bike Museum explains that the Autoped, the first mass-produced motorized scooter ride in the U.S., was ‘[e]ssentially an enlarged child’s scooter with an engine mounted over the front wheel.’ Though some reports claimed it could reach speeds of 35 miles per hour, the steering column operated the clutch and brake, which the museum noted made the ride ‘unsteady’ when it pushed 20 mph. Later, a battery-operated version of the Autoped was made available when the Everready Battery Company bought the outfit. The concept of the scooter stretches back at least a century before to 1817 and Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun of Germany. After he debuted his early two-wheeled, human-powered ride, the velocipede concept was quickly spun off into bicycles, tricycles and kick scooters. … Come the turn of the 19th century, battery-powered machines were also entering into the fold; Ogden Bolton Jr. was issued a U.S. patent for his battery-powered bicycle in 1895.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.8 points
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: SHUT UP, THEY EXPLAINED
On Friday, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discussed the findings of the Mueller report, what will happen to Democrats once Joe Biden enters the 2020 race, and Dana shares a musical hit from when The Five were in Nashville. Plus, Dana asks Chris mailbag questions and fires off some trivia questions. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
HOUSE DEMS HUDDLE; PELOSI WANTS MUELLER MESSAGING
Politico: “Now that the dust has started to settle after last week’s release of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s report, Democrats will try to figure out how to move forward. House Democrats, who are in the middle of a two-week recess, will hold a conference call later today so the caucus can start to plot their next steps and sharpen their strategy in a post-Mueller world. Per a Dem aide, the call is expected to focus on the ‘need to see the full report and need to hear from Mueller ASAP.’ Democrats have already made some strategic moves, formally issuing a subpoena on Friday for the full report and all its underlying materials — an immediate top priority for the caucus. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also rejected an offer from the DOJ to view a less-redacted version of the report, arguing that every lawmaker has a right to view the entire report…”
Schiff hedges on impeachment – WaPo: ‘House Democrats will hold a meeting to discuss whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump, a key lawmaker said Sunday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that the House Democratic caucus will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the matter. ‘That’s going to be a very consequential decision and one that I’m going to reserve judgment on until we’ve had a chance to fully deliberate on it,’ Schiff said. In an appearance on ABC News’s ‘This Week,’ Schiff said that although the findings of the Mueller report are ‘serious and damning,’ he does not believe the Senate would convict Trump if the House were to impeach him. ‘Now, it may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless. I think what we are going to have to decide as a caucus is: What is the best thing for the country?’ he said.”
Trump sues to block probe of his business practices – WaPo: “President Trump and his business sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) in a bid to block a congressional subpoena of his financial records on Monday. The lawsuit seeks a court order to prevent Trump’s accounting firm from complying with what his lawyers say is an improper use of subpoena power by congressional Democrats. … Last week, Cummings subpoenaed Mazars USA, an accounting firm long used by Trump. For more than a decade, Mazars and a predecessor firm signed off on financial statements for Trump that he used when seeking loans. Some of the statements include frequent exaggerations or inaccuracies and were accompanied by a note from the firm saying it was not responsible for the accuracy of the information.”
BIDEN WILL HIT VA., PA. ON ANNOUNCEMENT DAY
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Two sources familiar with Biden’s preliminary plans said the former vice president will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va., the site of a clash in August 2017 between white supremacists and counterprotesters that claimed one life. Biden then will fly to Pittsburgh for a rally in the afternoon and then come to Philadelphia, where he will hold a rally at the Art Museum, though the sources said the plans have been shifting in recent days and could change again. David L. Cohen, a Comcast senior executive vice president and an influential Democratic figure, is planning a fund-raiser for Biden at his Philadelphia home Thursday, one sign of the support the former vice president can expect from much of the party establishment, particularly in Pennsylvania. Former Gov. Ed Rendell said he would support Biden, making him one of the most prominent figures in a host of Keystone State insiders expected to do the same.”
Buttigieg likens Bernie backers to Trump fans – Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Friday said that President Trump’s supporters were similar to Bernie Sanders’ supporters because they both feel marginalized and want to tear down the system. The comments came during a campaign stop in downtown Nashua, N.H. before a crowd of mostly high school students, according to The Washington Examiner. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind. said that a sense of ‘anger and disaffection’ grows from neighborhoods and families who are struggling to get by despite reports of a healthy economy. ‘It just kind of turns you against the system in general and then you’re more likely to want to vote to blow up the system, which could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. That’s how we got where we are,’ Buttigieg said. Buttigieg drew a distinction between himself and the 77-year-old Vermont Senator…”
Can Buttigieg turn buzz into ballots? – AP: “There are no policy positions on his website. He has virtually no paid presence in the states that matter most. And his campaign manager is a high school friend with no experience in presidential politics. Welcome to the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old Indiana mayor who has suddenly become one of the hottest names in the Democrats’ presidential primary season. Yet there is an increasing urgency, inside and outside of the campaign, that his moment may pass if he doesn’t take swift action to build a national organization capable of harnessing the energy he’ll need to sustain his surge in the nine months or so before the first votes are cast. … Aware of the daunting road ahead, Buttigieg’s team is plowing forward with an ambitious push to expand his operation, attract new campaign cash and pound the airwaves with virtually every media opportunity available.”
A struggling Warren grabs impeachment issue – NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has worked for months to find traction in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, stepped forward on Friday with a call to arms: President Trump must be impeached. What followed, generally, was conspicuous silence – and not just from her colleagues in Congress. After sidestepping the explosive issue of impeachment for months by citing the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, most of the other 17 Democratic presidential candidates have responded to the special counsel’s report with tentative remarks about impeaching Mr. Trump, demands for the unredacted Mueller findings, calls for further hearings or attempts to simply change the subject. Anything, that is, to avoid clearly answering the question of whether lawmakers should remove the president from office. … But some strategists and lawmakers say that a failed effort would only strengthen Mr. Trump’s re-election chances, allowing him to claim further vindication.”
Moulton becomes the fourth House member to join 2020 field – Politico: “Rep. Seth Moulton announced Monday that he is running for president, vowing to engage young people and military veterans and becoming the third Massachusetts politician to throw a hat into the 2020 ring. An Iraq veteran who led an unsuccessful effort to oust Nancy Pelosi from the House leadership last year, the 40-year-old Moulton has said he plans to run a campaign focused on national security and defense issues, which his campaign argues will make him a foil to President Donald Trump. Moulton was elected to Congress in 2014, after he upset former Democratic Rep. John Tierney in a primary fight. The Salem lawmaker is serving his third term. … Moulton’s 2020 website went live on Monday morning, highlighting Moulton’s positions on foreign policy and national security, jobs, health care, climate change and leadership. The website also has a store with T-shirts, hats and tote bags.”
THE SWAMP HEARTS TRUMP 2020
Politico: “Deep-pocketed Republicans who snubbed Donald Trump in 2016 are going all in for him in 2020, throwing their weight behind a newly created fundraising drive that’s expected to dump tens of millions into his reelection coffers. The effort involves scores of high-powered businessmen, lobbyists and former ambassadors who raised big money for George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney – and who are now preparing to tap their expansive networks for Trump after rebuffing his first presidential bid. The project, which is closely modeled after the famed Pioneers network that helped to fuel Bush’s 2000 campaign, is slated to be formally unveiled on May 7, when well-connected Republican fundraisers from around the country descend on Washington for a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides. … Party officials have been reaching out to top fundraisers in recent weeks and wooing them with the prospect of joining ‘raiser clubs,’ with names like 45 Club, Trump Train and Builders Club.”
Trump bashes Bernie in public, praises in private – Daily Beast: “To his rally-goers, Donald Trump openly craves a 2020 showdown with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), salivating at the prospect of getting to run against an elderly, self-declared democratic socialist. But in private, his view of a potential run against the senator is a lot more complex and less swaggeringly self-assured. Those around the president say he’s been of two minds when the topic of facing Sanders in 2020 comes up. While he sees the senator as a vulnerable opponent, he also has offered begrudging respect for his political acumen. Trump will—sometimes unprompted—bring up Sanders’s own working-class support, and acknowledge that there is, in fact, potential for the senator to win over Trump voters with his populist appeal, three sources who’ve discussed this with the president tell The Daily Beast. The president has been impressed with Sanders’ ability to ignite his base and draw a large crowd, though not, in his words, as ‘good as Trump.’”
Herman Cain withdraws from consideration for Federal Reserve seat – WaPo
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announces successful surgery to treat prostate cancer – Politico
NRCC names first eight members to benefit from Patriot Program ahead of 2020 – Roll Call
Meet the 2020 spouses: The high-powered men and women behind the candidates – Fox News
AUDIBLE: LIKE, ARE WE TALKING ABOUT REAL PRIMO STUFF?
“It depends on the stolen material.” – Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Trump, when asked by NBC News whether it is “okay for political campaigns to work with material stolen by foreign adversaries.”
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Senators running for president who miss voting due to campaigning should have a pay cut for each missed vote!” – Michael Carter, Kenton County, Ky.
[Ed. note: I have never understood the desire some Americans have about getting members of Congress to work more days. I might even consider a bonus program that would give them bonus cash for every day spent outside of the capital! (I kid… mostly.) The problems with our legislative branch won’t be solved by having them spending more time in Washington. I’d instead say there’s probably a great deal to be said for members being with normal Americans. And I promise that for every vote in which they would be more than just padding, all five of the senators running would be there.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
‘THE FLUFFY VIGILANTE’
Orlando Weekly: “In what is probably downtown Orlando’s weirdest fight yet, someone dressed as the Easter Bunny ran into an ongoing brawl and beat up a man on Orange Avenue Sunday. An Orlando promoter who goes by Workkk caught the whole thing on video and told Orlando Weekly the fight started when a man bumped into a woman with dreads. The two were already punching each other when the fluffy vigilante suddenly jumped in and started swinging. … ‘As you can see the Easter rabbit been taking boxing classes,’ the promoter says. … The video shows the fight was quickly broken up by a bystander and a bike cop from Orlando Police. Orlando Weekly reached out to OPD for more information but did not receive an immediate comment.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“In Trump World, the better angels are not in evidence.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the National Review on July 28, 2017.
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.