Biden

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On the roster: When every day is Presidents’ Day – Would Biden be the real frontrunner? – List of litigants against Trump emergency growing – Audible: Like freedom fries? – Tudder for an udder

WHEN EVERY DAY IS PRESIDENTS’ DAY
We are in the midst of a needful and long-overdue discussion about executive authority.

But don’t expect it to last.

In the past seven decades, Americans have substantially learned to live without the small-r republicanism that was so much a part of our founding and first century and a half of our history.

Consider the long, slouchy slide into the abomination that we call “Presidents’ Day.” The holiday is still “George Washington’s Birthday” by law, having survived an effort in 1968 to standardize the observance as a generic honor for all presidents.

Abraham Lincoln, born on Feb. 12, never had a federal observance of his own, but most states had holidays for the Great Emancipator. Washington was born on Feb. 22, so this created something of a holiday logjam in February, which was unhelpful for schools and employers.

Over time, confusion between state and federal observances and the pressure from advertisers who wanted a standard way to hawk mattresses and minivans, dumbed down the holiday.

While it’s true that it doesn’t really matter what we call the day for the sake of celebrations. Americans ought not need to be told how and when exactly to venerate our two greatest leaders. Plus, ski weekends…

What does matter, though, is that the generic holiday is an unfortunate reflection of the royalist strain that has so much taken hold of American political thinking.

There’s no doubt that in our republic, the president is afforded many of the powers of a term-limited king. The power of the commander in chief to defend against an attack or of whether to pardon a criminal are magisterial indeed.

The fear among the Federalists in support of the Constitution was, in fact, that the legislative branch would be too powerful and that the executive would be too puny to get the job done. Sapped of the capacity for decisive action, the executive branch would become a kind of ceremonial head of state – a hood ornament for the country. Meanwhile, Congress would be unable to provide decisive responses to *ahem* national emergencies.

It’s turned out to be exactly the opposite. Congress can seldom act, it’s true. But the response from what is supposed to be the preeminent branch has been to cede its own authority. For decades now and under the control of both parties, Congress has taken itself from the lion of our government into a pipsqueak.

The idea behind venerating Washington and Lincoln is that they were special men who, at crucial moments, led the country out of dangerous straits and into greater glories. And in both cases, that given the opportunity to be demagogues or to hoard power for themselves, they instead placed those authorities back in the hands of the representatives of the people.

But the reason their self-sacrifice is so remarkable is that it is so rare. And it is so rare because, as the verdict of 10,000 years of history clearly shows, the people generally don’t want the power. Autocracy and highly centralized power haven’t been the norm in human history just because of the efforts autocrats, but also the will of the people.

Being a citizen in a republic is harder duty than being the subject of a king or queen. You have to make decisions. You have to know the facts. You have to participate.

The imperial American presidency has been growing and growing to the point now where we are even having a discussion about whether the current occupant of the Oval Office can even disregard the domestic spending direction of the Congress. That we are even in debate on the subject tells us how far we have fallen.

And in this case, like every executive usurpation that has come before, the executive points to the abuses that came before and were allowed to stand by a craven Congress. We won’t here delve into the cause of congressional cravenness, except to say that the individual ambitions of careerist lawmakers has made lawmaking seem rather too icky.

Where we’ve landed, and this has been very much for the current presidency and the one before it, is where everything seems focused on the man in the White House. Day after day after day of focus on one single human. As if a president could be so powerful… 

Whatever sign they hung in the window at the mattress store today doesn’t matter, but we would submit that when we divorced the observance from the individual men, it was another step toward a monarchical America.    

The truth that most of us would probably not like to confront is that America likes it better that way.

THE RULEBOOK: FANCY THAT
“The representatives of the people, in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter…” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71

TIME OUT: UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman shares some thoughts on the passing of the original “influencer.” NYT: “What does it mean to have your greatest legacy be one of ‘taste?’ I have been thinking about this since the news of Lee Radziwill’s death arrived, along with the flood of photographs from all corners of social media featuring Ms. Radziwill throughout her life — in white corduroys and a blue boat-neck T-shirt, in bouffant chignon and tunics; in a pink shift with her sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, atop an elephant during a tour of India; in a white-and-silver beaded gown dancing with Truman Capote at his Black and White Ball; in a black patent python jacket — all of them used to pay homage to her extraordinary ‘taste.’ Been thinking about it since some of the obituaries and reminiscences almost seem to use the word as a backhanded compliment; a reference to a life that had more impact in style than substance… But are the two really so unrelated?”

Flag on the play? – Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove.]

WOULD BIDEN BE THE REAL FRONTRUNNER?

Politico:Joe Biden’s big lead in early Democratic 2020 polling might be a bunch of malarkey. While most polls show the former vice president hovering around 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote, well ahead of second-place Sen. Bernie Sanders, two recent surveys paint a starkly different picture — raising the question of whether Biden is a real front-runner or just has big name-recognition. Those polls show far more Democratic voters undecided about which candidate to support, and they pegged Biden’s backing at a much less intimidating 9 to 12 percent. The results are so varied partly thanks to different methodological choices by the pollsters. But parsing the results is more than an academic exercise: While Biden weighs a third campaign for the presidency, he and his allies must consider whether polls a year before primary season really reflect Biden’s true strength — and his potential rivals have to calculate whether the former vice president could overwhelm lesser-known challengers in 2020.”

The mom lane – The Boston Globe: “As the 2020 Democratic primary shapes up, its leading women candidates – accomplished stateswomen, all – are drawing attention to another role they play: Mom. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar both talked about being mothers in the opening statements of their presidential bids. Senator Kamala Harris speaks often of her husband’s two children and the nickname they have given her: Momala. There are already indications that the women of 2020 plan to draw on their own experiences to embrace policies that affect mothers and working parents more broadly, bringing such issues as child care and family leave firmly into the political mainstream. This week, for example, Warren plans to introduce a universal child care and early learning plan, which she has said would be paid for by taxing the wealth of the richest Americans.”

Busy weekend on the trail – AP: “Five Democratic senators vying for their party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020 fanned out across the country Saturday to campaign and meet voters. Kamala Harris of California spent her second straight day in the pivotal early-voting state of South Carolina, holding a town hall meeting in Columbia, the capital. Also visiting the state was Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who met with an estimated 800 voters in Greenville before heading to Georgia… Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York both focused on New Hampshire. Booker made his first visit to there since joining the race earlier this month, holding a question-and-answer session with more than 400 voters in Portsmouth. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, meanwhile, made her own uncommon choice for early campaigning by visiting Wisconsin before heading to Iowa, home to the nation’s first caucus. And a Democratic heavyweight who’s yet to address his 2020 plans, former Vice President Joe Biden, made his own high-profile appearance at the Munich Security Conference.”

Bernie’s team talked of grim standing with non-white voters –  NYT: “Shortly after Senator Bernie Sanders suffered a crushing loss in South Carolina’s Democratic primary in 2016, his campaign’s African-American outreach team sent a memo to top campaign leaders with an urgent warning. ‘The margin by which we lost the African-American vote has got to be — at the very least — cut in half or there simply is no path to victory,’ the team wrote in the memo, which was reviewed by The New York Times. Mr. Sanders had won 14 percent of the black vote there compared with 86 percent for Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls. Over seven pages, the team outlined a strategy for winning black voters that included using social media influencers and having Mr. Sanders give a major speech on discrimination in a city like St. Louis or Cincinnati. Mr. Sanders’s inner circle did not respond.”

LIST OF LITIGANTS AGAINST TRUMP EMERGENCY GROWING
NBC News: “California and a dozen other states are filing a lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday. ‘The president admitted that there’s not a basis for the declaration. He admitted there’s no crisis at the border. He’s now trying to rob funds that were allocated by Congress legally to the various states and people of our states,’ Becerra told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Monday afternoon. ‘The separation of powers is being violated, we’re going to go out there and make sure that Donald Trump cannot steal money from the states and people who need them, since we paid the taxpayer dollars to Washington, D.C., to get those services,’ he said. … New Jersey, Colorado, and Connecticut all confirmed to NBC News they are a part of the lawsuit. ‘The only national emergency is the president’s trafficking in lies and deceit,’ Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement.”

Stephen Miller on the hot seat – USA Today: “During an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ host Chris Wallace pressed [senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller] on the need for a national emergency, citing U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data showing between 80 to 90 percent of drugs seized in attempted smugglings happened at ports of entry. … Wallace pressed Miller to cite another example from the 59 times presidents used the National Emergency Act where it was invoked to obtain money that Congress had refused to appropriate. Miller did not cite such a precedent and took issue with the premise of the question. ‘They didn’t refuse to appropriate it,’ Miller said. ‘They passed a law specifically saying the president could have this authority. It’s in the plain statute. That’s the decision that Congress made, and if people don’t like that, they can address it.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate McCabe’s claimsWaPo

North Carolina election officials make their case against GOP ‘ballot harvesting’ in unresolved House raceRaleigh News & Observer

AUDIBLE: LIKE FREEDOM FRIES?
“I think that whatever you eat is a very personal decision and everybody should eat what they want to eat. That’s America- that’s what we believe in freedom.” – Presidential Candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) explained his vegan diet to his voters via twitter over the weekend.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, be serious, neither [Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld] nor [Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan] can be classified as ‘notable’. I’d put [Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich] in that category, but I don’t think he’ll get into a race that he knows for sure that he can’t win.” Lou Banas, Brea,Calif

[Ed. Note: I can’t be sure of your definition of notability, Mr. Banas. But the second-term governor of a state of 6 million or so souls strikes me as within any reasonable definition. The ting about primary challenges is that they don’t have to be successful to do their damage. In 1980, Ted Kennedy didn’t beat Jimmy Carter, nor did Pat Buchanan unhorse George H.W. Bush in 1992, but both campaigns were certainly consequential. That’s why the Trump campaign is rightly worried about just such a run.]

“One of the greatest walls between us, the people, and an overzealous government is the separation of powers. The Founding Fathers, in perhaps one of their greatest acts of genius, divided the power of government into three separate branches so as to insure there was no party with absolute power. Declaring an ‘emergency’, after the president has already given the congress the opportunity to act and has acted, creates a huge breach in this wall of protection. Gaining short-term funds for building a border wall in exchange for the Constitutional wall of protection created by the separation of powers is neither conservative nor is it wise. Liberals often believe the end justifies the means, I hope conservatives do not stray down this dangerous road.” Steve Bartlett, Greenville, S.C.

[Ed. Note: The Constitution is always getting strange new respect from the party out of power. We could call it hypocrisy, but that would be too narrow of a view. In fact, our charter has very much in mind keeping majorities from turning into steamrollers. So then maybe it makes a certain sense that the party out of power holds the Constitution in greater reverence.]

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TUDDER FOR AN UDDER

Reuters: “A Tinder-inspired app is helping farmers match up potential partners for their cattle. Called ‘Tudder’ ― a mix of dating app Tinder and udder – it lets farmers swipe right on cattle they like the look of. They are then directed to a page on the SellMyLivestock website where they can browse more pictures and data about the animals before deciding whether to buy. Valuable information is available on matters like milk yield and protein content, or calving potential, explained Doug Bairner, CEO of Hectare Agritech which runs SellMyLivestock (SML) and Graindex, a UK-based online agritech trading platform. ‘Matching livestock online is even easier than it is to match humans because there’s a huge amount of data that sits behind these wonderful animals that predicts what their offspring will be,’ he said.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Nixon might indeed have committed crimes. But the spectacle of an ex-president on trial and perhaps even in jail was something Ford would not allow the country to go through.”  – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 27, 2017.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Liz Friden contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Vice President Joe Biden regularly tops the polls of potential Democratic candidates in 2020, but pollsters are unsure if this lead is due to popularity or name-recognition.

“These polls are today’s reality,” Democratic pollster John Anzalone told Politico. “And sometimes, today’s reality holds until tomorrow and all the way until next year. And other times, today’s reality changes. Primaries are like that.”

The Democratic firm Bold Blue Campaigns recently carried out a national poll of the potential Democratic candidates for president in 2020 and gave the recipients the option of saying they are undecided, which became the most common response with 48 percent. Biden came in first, but with only 12 percent, just above California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris with 11 percent and Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won 9 percent.

Most polls show that “it’s a very open field,” said Steen Kirby, who works as a campaigns and data specialist for Bold Blue. “People are weighing their options. I think the reason that so many people are getting in is because this is a 1-to-15 percent spread, not a 1-to-30 percent spread. It’s very different from 2016, when Hillary Clinton was at 40 or 50 percent.”

Democratic pollster Margie Omero added that the different polls of 20202 Democratic candidates “still all tell the same story: that it’s a wide-open race. We should not be looking at these early polls as signs of what’s going to happen a year from now.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Former President Barack Obama’s financial backers earlier this month secretly interviewed numerous 2020 presidential candidates to determine which one or two of them they should support monetarily, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Obama’s former chief strategist David Axelrod confirmed that he briefed the group, but not as an official Obama emissary. He said he did not think the former president would endorse anyone, even if his Vice President Joe Biden entered the race, and that Obama did not believe it was up to him to determine the 2020 nomination, preferring instead that the primaries serve as a contest of ideas.

But Obama has advised more than a dozen declared or likely candidates on what he thinks is needed to beat President Donald Trump.

According to sources briefed on these informal discussions, Obama has encouraged candidates to push back on Trump’s bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change and stress an alternative message that also can attract rural voters and others that are likely to distrust Democrats.

He also has urged candidates to avoid attacking each other in bitterly personal terms during the primaries that could later help Trump in the general election.

Obama has, however, spoken admiringly about a few potential presidential candidates, encouraged about the rise of a newer generation of leaders in the party.

He also campaigned for the midterms, focusing many of his endorsements on promoting women and candidates of color. Obama also has taken a leading role in the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group established to battle against congressional gerrymandering.

Some Democrats hold out hope that Obama might eventually help resolve the primary, perhaps if the race narrows to just two candidates and the former president is convinced one of them cannot defeat Trump.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Derek Hunter | Contributor

On this President’s Day edition of the Daily Daily Caller Podcast, we get into what is shaping up to be the latest “hate crime hoax” liberals had been blaming on President Trump before the wheels fell off, the Andy McCabe memory-lapse, and Democrats starting to worry that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be leading them to electoral disaster.

Listen to the show:

Actor Jussie Smollett was the victim of a horrible hate crime, but it’s looking more and more like that crime might have been a desperate cry for favorable media attention.

Reports out of the Chicago police department indicate two brothers from Nigeria (who were also extras on Smollett’s show, “Empire”) may have been paid by Smollett to perpetrate the “attack” in sub-zero temperatures the actor tried to pin on the president and his supporters.

Nothing adds up, and the story has changed. Now, police are looking into the prospect that all of it was a publicity stunt. Democrats are finding themselves having to back away from a story they immediately embraced because they could blame it on the president; now, they may have to blame it on the victim-fetish they’ve helped create on the Left.

Fired deputy director of the FBI Andy McCabe appeared on “60 Minutes” yesterday, and the biggest story we were sold about the interview — the attempted push by unelected bureaucrats to remove the president from office through the 25th Amendment — turned out to be a nothingburger.

McCabe downplayed what CBS had hyped, to the point that he said he couldn’t even remember how the subject came up.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden is embarrassed by the country for things that happened under the Obama administration; he and the media pretend they had nothing to do with any of it. And the “Morning Joe” crew is worried Democrats might be following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to defeat. Might the shine be coming off this media-created darling?

Help spread the word about The Daily Daily Caller Podcast. Please take a minute to rate and review on iTunes, share on social media and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode:

The Daily Daily Caller Podcast is a daily look and mocking of the news from a conservative perspective. Hosted by Derek Hunter, it is available in audio form Monday-Thursday and will have a video option on Fridays.

Derek Hunter is a columnist and contributing editor for The Daily Caller and author of “Outrage, INC: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood” from HarperCollins, available nowPick Up a copy, or several copies, here. Send compliments and complaints to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @derekahunter.

Source: The Daily Caller

Munich Security Conference in Munich
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is seen during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

February 18, 2019

By Robin Emmott and John Irish

MUNICH (Reuters) – In 2009, then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden came to Munich to “press the reset button” with Russia. A decade later he came again to offer the world better relations, this time with his own country.

Promising that “America will be back” once Donald Trump leaves office, Biden won a standing ovation at the Munich Security Conference from delegates who find the president’s brusque foreign policy stance hard to like.

But their elation also exposed the weakened state of Western diplomacy in the face of Trump’s assertiveness, according to European diplomats and politicians who were present.

Biden’s successor, Mike Pence, was met with silence at a reception in the palatial Bavarian parliament on Friday evening after he delivered his signature line: “I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump.”

His four-day trip to Europe succeeded only in deepening divisions with traditional allies over questions such as Iran and Venezuela and offered little hope in how to deal with threats ranging from nuclear arms to climate change, diplomats and officials said.

Misgivings about Washington’s role in the world are being felt by ordinary people as well as foreign policy specialists. In Germany and France, half the population see U.S. power as a threat, up sharply from 2013 and a view shared by 37 percent of Britons, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said in a report before the Munich foreign policy gathering.

Asked about European anxiety over Trump’s leadership style, a senior U.S. official on Pence’s Air Force Two plane said the vice president’s Munich conference speech on Saturday at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof would “help give them a different perspective”.

“TIT-FOR-TAT”

But if the Europeans did not like the “America First” message, there was no concerted response to it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on her own after a last-minute cancellation by French President Emmanuel Macron.

That caused some to lament the failure of the West to uphold the rules-based international order that Washington itself championed in the 70 years that preceded the arrival of Trump in the White House.

“The tit-for-tat logic is unfortunately prevailing … I think that takes us back to the question of enlightened leadership,” said Thomas Greminger, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a security and human rights watchdog.

“We need leaders again who do not believe exclusively in short-termism,” he told Reuters.

It fell to China to aid Merkel in her defense of the post-World War Two order, as the country’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, spoke in flawless English for over 20 minutes about the virtues of open trade and global cooperation.

Pence’s message was, in fact, that the pillars of U.S. foreign policy were being rebuilt on a different foundation: isolating Iran, containing China, bringing American troops home and requiring European powers to fall into line.

BROKEN NARRATIVE?

After using a speech in Warsaw on Thursday to accuse Britain, France and Germany of trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on Iran, Pence called in Munich for the European Union to recognize Venezuelan congressional leader Juan Guaido as president over Nicolas Maduro, whom he called a dictator.

That drew an angry response from Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who said the European Union could acknowledge Guaido as interim president until new elections, in line with the Venezuelan constitution.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves LeDrian said he was mystified by U.S. policy on Syria after Trump’s decision to withdraw troops because it would only benefit Iran, which Washington wants to be tough on.

European diplomats and officials also took issue with Pence’s insistence that EU governments stay away from Chinese telecoms companies as they build the latest generation of mobile networks, preferring first to have an internal discussion about the potential risks and U.S. claims of Chinese espionage.

“U.S. pressure has a tendency to make us do the opposite. U.S. pressure is counterproductive. It’s best that they don’t try and pressure us,” a senior French diplomat said.

Whatever the threats, officials seemed to be mainly talking past each other.

Kumi Naidoo, global head of Amnesty International, said security was often defined too narrowly, failing to address the wider dangers of climate change.

“The narrative here at the Munich Security Conference is broken. They are talking about the right topics but in the wrong language. The mentality here is that security is only a national issue,” Naidoo told Reuters.

Leaving for Washington, Pence was unfazed, telling reporters his trip had been very successful. “We’re advancing the interests of the free world, and we’ve made great progress.” 

(Additional reporting by Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Source: OANN

Biden slams Trump's treatment of European allies as speculation mounts of possible 2020 run

Amid widespread speculation that he could soon declare his candidacy for the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden offered up this weekend his latest critique of the Trump administration and its foreign policy direction.

Speaking during a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Biden criticized President Trump’s treatment of the United States’ traditional allies in Western Europe and promised a rekindling of the close ties European powers shared with Washington.

“The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world or our closest allies,” Biden said, as The Washington Post reported.

He added: “The America I see cherishes a free press, democracy, the rule of law. It stands up to the aggression of dictators and against strongmen.”

BIDEN, SANDERS, HARRIS, WARREN TOP 2020 DEM FIELD IN NEW POLL

Biden has been one of the harshest voices speaking out against Trump’s isolationist “America First” initiatives and his continued condemnation of the White House’s policies have added more fuel to the rumors that he could plan to challenge Trump in the 2020 race.

“This too shall pass. We will be back. We will be back," Biden said in Munich, according to the New York Times.

A source close to the Biden camp told Fox News last week that the former vice president is almost certain to enter the race soon.

The source said the timing of an announcement is still up in the air. With such a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls, Biden wants to keep big donors and potential staffers with him and has been conducting outreach to former colleagues, grassroots activists and contributors, the source said.

The 76-year-old former vice president’s decision comes as a slew of younger and more liberal Democrats have already jumped into the fray, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

BIDEN STRIKES CONTRAST WITH 2020 FIELD, JOKES ABOUT LIKING REPUBLICANS

However, some close to Biden have suggested that with his name recognition and long record of public service, he could afford to wait before moving forward.

Also speaking at the conference in Munich was the man who took Biden’s job when Trump came into office, Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence used his time at the pulpit to double down on American criticism of Europe.

Pence stuck to the U.S. line that the NATO guideline for its nations to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense is a strict commitment rather than a target, saying while more alliance members have met the criteria, "the truth is, many of our NATO allies still need to do more."

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He also reiterated American opposition to the joint German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which Washington has claimed could make Europe overly reliant on Russian gas.

"The United States commends all our European partners who’ve taken a strong stand against Nord Stream 2," he said. "And we commend others to do that same."

He added: "We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East."

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Rush Limbaugh: Spending bill was effort by some Republicans to sabotage Trump

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to "Fox News Sunday," charged that the compromise spending bill recently signed by President Trump to avert another partial government shutdown was little more than a disguised effort by some Republicans to torpedo his 2020 presidential candidacy.

Limbaugh also rejected claims that President Trump is unduly influenced by right-wing media figures and "wackos" — an accusation that resurfaced amid the ongoing border wall funding dispute.

Late last year, a slew of prominent conservatives, including columnist Ann Coulter, excoriated Trump for appearing to back down on his threat not to sign any spending bill without wall funding. Trump responded by unfollowing Coulter on Twitter, then reversing course and insisting on money for the barrier project on the way to a historic 35-day partial government shutdown.

"It’s just another effort to continue to try to diminish the president — diminish President Trump as someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing, can’t do it without guidance from the wacko right," Limbaugh told host Chris Wallace. "It’s not at all the way he’s governing, and there isn’t anybody doing what I do that has a thing to do with actually making policy for this president."

FILE - In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

FILE – In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

On Friday, Trump said he is declaring a national emergency on the southern border, tapping into executive powers in a bid to divert billions toward construction of a wall even as he signed a funding package to avert another shutdown that includes just $1.4 billion for border security — far short of the $5.7 billion he has long requested for the wall.

The compromise legislation, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, contained enough funding for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles the White House has sought.

MCCABE, ROSENSTEIN NEED TO TESTIFY ON PLOT TO REMOVE PRESIDENT VIA 25TH AMENDMENT, TOP GOP OFFICIALS SAY

The bill, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, provided additional funding for 5,000 more beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can use to house illegal immigrants. But in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer illegal immigrants, Democrats ensured that the bill did not include funding for the 2,000 additional ICE agents requested by the Trump administration, or the 750 Border Patrol agents that were also sought.

Mexican Federal Police in riot gear guard outside of a migrant shelter for Central American immigrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Mexican Federal Police in riot gear guard outside of a migrant shelter for Central American immigrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Several Republicans, including Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy, voted against the bill, saying it didn’t properly address the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. Roy called the bill a "sham," and said the funding bill "undermines the whole point of an emergency declaration."

"We have an emergency — this is an invasion."

— Rush Limbaugh

For his part, Limbaugh said not enough attention is being given to Democrats’ resistance to even minimal border security measures. In an interview last week, potential Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for existing border walls to be torn down.  Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she "could support" that position as well.

Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

"We have an emergency — this is an invasion," Limbaugh said, referring to the flow of thousands of illegal immigrants — including many in organized caravans — that continue to approach the U.S. border.

"The very existence and definition of American culture, American society, the rule of law — why does nobody talk about the fact that millions and millions and millions of people are breaking the law here illegally and the Democrat Party wants that to happen?" Limbaugh asked.

The compromise spending bill will undermine the White House and won’t produce results at the border, Limbaugh added — and, he asserted, that might be what some Republicans intended.

Central American immigrant families look out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrant families look out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

"Both parties have people that are still trying to get rid of Donald Trump. I read this bill — this spending bill, this bill is outrageous," Limbaugh said. "The thing’s welcoming centers for newly arriving illegal aliens, and all kinds of medical care for – the purpose of this bill, I think, was eventually to be used by the Democrats and some Republicans to tell the American people, ‘See, electing President Trump was pointless, worthless, he can’t protect you, he can’t stop us, he can’t do what he said he was going to do, because we hate him so much we’re not going to allow him to do it — that’s what this bill is."

Recently unearthed efforts by the FBI and Justice Department to begin discussions about ousting Trump in 2017, Limbaugh continued, only serve to underscore his point further. Fox News first reported on Sunday that top FBI lawyer James Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, claiming he was told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort.

The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

"People, simply because they don’t like a guy’s hairstyle or like where he came from, decided the American people’s decision was invalid and began a systematic process to get him out of office — this is a silent coup," Limbaugh said. "These guys, if you ask me, ought to be the ones in jail."

Asked who the likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will be, Limbaugh sided with former Vice President Joe Biden. Although Biden has not formally announced a bid, a source with direct knowledge told Fox News on Thursday that he is virtually certain to run.

"The frontrunner would probably be right now Joe Biden, 77 years old, plagiarist, nicknamed ‘plugs’ – I think he’s the guy they are probably thinking is the leader in the polls right now," Limbaugh said. "But it’s going to be very crowded. They’re going to be knocking each other off. That’s going to be fun to watch. Incumbancy carries with it a lot of power. … They’re getting way ahead of the game, and I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as they think."

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Pence Chastises EU, Rejects Merkel's Call to Work with Russia

Vice President Mike Pence rebuked European powers over Iran and Venezuela on Saturday in a renewed attack on Washington's traditional allies, rejecting a call by Germany's chancellor to include Russia in global cooperation efforts.

In speeches and in private talks at the Munich Security Conference, Pence and Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out competing visions for how the West should address world crises.

"America is stronger than ever before and America is leading on the world stage once again," Pence told European and Asian officials in Munich, listing what he described as U.S. foreign policy successes from Afghanistan to North Korea, and urging support from American allies.

"America First does not mean America alone," he said, hailing the results of Donald Trump's presidency as "remarkable" and "extraordinary," and calling on the EU to follow Washington in quitting the Iran nuclear deal and recognizing the head of Venezuela's congress, Juan Guaido, as the country's president.

Addressing an audience that included Trump's daughter Ivanka, Pence's speech was the latest attempt by a Trump administration official to put the president's "America First" agenda into a coherent policy plan.

European leaders are troubled by Trump's rhetoric, which they say is erratic and disruptive, citing his decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as undermining an arms control agreement that prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

But Pence — who last week accused Britain, Germany and France of undermining U.S. sanctions on Iran — repeated his demand for European powers to withdraw from the deal.

"The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal," he said, and later pressed Merkel over the issue in bilateral talks.

He also reiterated to her Washington's opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea. "We cannot strengthen the West by becoming dependent on the East," Pence said.

Merkel, who made a robust defense of Germany's foreign trade relations and ties with Russia during her speech, said later it was unreasonable to assume that Russia would be an unreliable energy supplier.

"AMERICA WILL BE BACK"

Speaking before Pence, Merkel questioned whether the U.S. decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and withdrawal from Syria was the best way to tackle Tehran in the region.

During a question-and-answer session, she added that it would be wrong to exclude Russia politically, but Pence said Washington was "holding Russia accountable" for its 2014 seizure of Ukraine and what the West says are efforts to destabilize it through cyber attacks, disinformation and covert operations.

"Geostrategically, Europe can't have an interest in cutting off all relations with Russia," Merkel said.

Pence, who used his trip to Europe to push Trump's policy of favoring sovereign states as opposed to alliances and blocs, took aim at the EU over Venezuela's political crisis.

"Today we call on the European Union to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela," he said, calling President Nicolas Maduro a dictator who must step down.

In his roving address, Pence also stepped up U.S. pressure on Chinese telecoms gear companies such as Huawei Technologies Co, urging allies to avoid the firms and saying Chinese law requires them to give Beijing access to networks and data.

China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi rejected Pence's comments. "Chinese law doesn't require companies to install back doors to collect intelligence," Yang told the conference.

Yang, one of the architects of Chinese foreign policy, echoed Merkel's vision, saying the world should "pull together" to address global challenges, while former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden got a standing ovation for a speech in which he said that after Trump, close traditional U.S.-EU would resume. "America will be back," he said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown

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On the roster: Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown – Time Out: Teddy’s bears – Fox Poll: Majority thinks Dems can unseat Trump in 2020 – Schultz won’t run if Dems nominate a centrist – Something special turnip-ed eventually

TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY, AVOIDS SHUTDOWN
NYT:President Trump declared a national emergency at the border on Friday to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over separation of powers. In a televised announcement in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said he would sign the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security. ‘We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other,’ he said. … The declaration will enable Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.”

Will a legal war be next? – Politico: “President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency … is set to unleash a furious legal war that could bog down the project for months or years. Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are all loudly signaling plans for a hail of legal writs aimed at blocking the president from what they have denounced as an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process. … [H]istorically it has been almost unthinkable for judges to interfere with or second-guess a president’s declaration of a military or national security emergency. However, legal experts said Trump’s history of erratic and inflammatory statements, his frequent rhetorical disconnects with senior officials in his administration and his tendency to see crises that others view as completely contrived mean that challengers stand a strong chance of finding a judge willing to throw a monkey wrench into the president’s plans.”

Fox Poll: Most voters favor immigration deal – Fox News: “A sizable majority of voters favors a broad immigration deal that includes a border barrier, non-barrier security measures, and humanitarian aid. At the same time, support for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border stands its highest since 2015. The number favoring the wall inched up for the second time in two months to 46 percent, according to the latest Fox News Poll. It was 43 percent last month during the government shutdown and 39 percent in September. The high mark was 50 percent in November 2015. Currently, 50 percent oppose the wall, down one point since January. A bipartisan 66 percent majority favors a budget deal that includes funding for some form of a border barrier, plus other security measures and humanitarian relief.”

THE RULEBOOK: STAY IN YOUR LANE
“In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 14

TIME OUT: TEDDY’S BEARS
History: “On this day in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution. One of Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting expeditions provided the inspiration for the Teddy bear. … Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. (The age, sex and state of health of the bear remain contested.) While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove.]

FOX POLL: MAJORITY THINKS DEMS CAN UNSEAT TRUMP IN 2020
Fox News: “After President Donald Trump took office, many voters doubted he would finish his term, much less stand for re-election. But, as the 2020 race heats up, voters are increasingly confident the eventual Democratic nominee will indeed face off against the current occupant of the White House. In August 2017, 58 percent thought Trump would finish his term. Now 70 percent do, according to the latest Fox News Poll released Thursday. The poll also found, paradoxically, an even higher number — 80 percent — think Trump will run for re-election. Fourteen percent do not. … So what are the odds the Democrats defeat Trump? A 55-percent majority say either excellent (19 percent) or good (36 percent) while 39 percent think they have either no chance (13 percent) or not much of one (26 percent). Most Democrats (84 percent) and a plurality of independents (48 percent) think the Democratic Party’s chances are excellent or good…”

Iowa Poll: Voters think a ‘seasoned’ politician can defeat Trump – Des Moines Register:Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders top the list of potential presidential candidates preferred by Iowa’s likely Democratic caucus-goers, reflecting their belief that it will take political experience to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. The results are part of a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll, setting the stage for the contest that will sweep across Iowa in the next 14 months. … Nearly half of poll respondents in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state — 49 percent — say the right person to defeat Trump should be a ‘seasoned political hand’ rather than a ‘newcomer.’ … Thirty-six percent of poll respondents say a political ‘newcomer’ is best suited to defeat the president. In that role, Iowans currently favor Beto O’Rourke…”

Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Weld announces exploratory committee – ABC News: “Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP establishment, announced an exploratory committee for president on Friday, becoming the first Republican to move toward a serious primary challenge against President Donald Trump. There are new signs he won’t be the last. In the immediate aftermath of the 73-year-old Weld’s announcement at a breakfast event in New Hampshire, a senior aide for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich indicated Kasich is likely to launch a primary challenge as well. … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, met privately last week with conservative leader Bill Kristol, who’s driving an effort to recruit a top-tier Trump primary challenger and operatives on the ground in key states. … Weld’s move makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.”

Team Trump keeping close eye on Harris, Warren and Booker – Politico: “Donald Trump’s political advisers are homing in on three declared Democratic candidates who they believe are the most viable at this early stage of the campaign. The reelection campaign has begun compiling opposition research on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and is eyeing opportunities to attack them. … Trump’s advisers are certain the list of announced Democratic candidates will grow exponentially before the first primary debate in June, and that their targets are certain to fluctuate over time. … Interviews with more than two dozen of the president’s closest advisers reveal that the Trump operation is watching the opening days of the Democratic primary with a mix of relief over the field’s sprint to the left, surprise over Harris’ impressive launch, and trepidation over the prospect of Joe Biden and Sherrod Brown threatening Trump’s Midwest stranglehold.”

SCHULTZ WON’T RUN IF DEMS NOMINATE A CENTRIST
WaPo: “Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would be willing to abandon his presidential ambitions midstream if Democrats nominate a centrist who makes it too difficult for him to win as an independent candidate. Schultz, who made the comments while visiting The Washington Post, has premised his exploration of a presidential campaign on the assumption that Democrats are likely to nominate a candidate that embraces what he calls ‘far-left’ ideas that will turn off enough moderate voters to open space for an independent candidate. He has paid for internal polling that he says suggest he would be competitive in a three-way race against President Trump and a liberal Democratic candidate such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A more moderate Democratic nominee, such as former vice president Joe Biden or former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, could complicate Schultz’s perceived path to victory.”

Beto heads to the Midwest – Politico: “Beto O’Rourke is hitting the road again, this time for the Midwest. Following a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday, the former Texas congressman and potential presidential candidate will visit with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday. He will then travel to Chicago, where he will address a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Saturday. Julián Castro, who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event. O’Rourke’s meeting with students is closed to the media, a spokesman confirmed. … The events mark O’Rourke’s first public steps outside of Texas since a solo road trip that drew widespread attention throughout the Southwest. The visits come as O’Rourke edges closer to a presidential campaign. He has said he will make a decision about entering the race by the end of the month.”

Poll: New Jersey voters aren’t feeling Booker’s presidential bid – Monmouth University: “Sen. Cory Booker’s nascent presidential bid may get mixed reviews in his home state, but he starts off on much better footing than New Jersey’s last major contender, former governor Chris Christie. The Monmouth University Poll finds that Booker continues to earn a net positive job rating from Garden State residents, although his disapproval numbers have climbed. Most feel he will not be able to keep up with his senatorial duties while he is running for president but don’t think he needs to resign. However, if Booker is able to win the Democratic nomination, most New Jerseyans say he should forego a simultaneous run to retain his U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Booker earns a 48% approve to 36% disapprove rating from Garden State residents for his performance as the state’s junior U.S. senator. … [Booker’s] disapproval rating is the highest it has been since he took office in 2013.”

Dems announce first debate details – NYT: “The Democratic National Committee on Thursday unveiled the criteria for participation in the first two presidential primary debates, splitting the debates across two consecutive nights to accommodate an already sprawling field of candidates. … To qualify, a candidate must either reach 1 percent in three approved polls or raise at least $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 different states. Each candidate’s slot will be selected by a random drawing. The criteria will apply only to the first two debates, scheduled for back-to-back weeknights in June and July, allowing the committee to update its requirements as the field shifts. NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo are sponsoring the first debate, and CNN will host the second, with specific dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to work NBC News

Pergram: ‘Trump needs a transfer, may have to rob Peter to pay Paul’ Fox News

Interesting read: ‘The most important new woman in Congress is not who you think’Politico

SupCo to decide whether citizenship question can be included in 2020 census Fox News

McCabe rep downplays DOJ discussions on using 25th Amendment to oust TrumpFox News

AUDIBLE: TIME WILL TELL
“We’re nicer people. I mean look who they produced.” – Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said of Republicans and Trump to Politico. Brown added that Democrats will continue to remain nice to one another through primary season.  

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rush Limbaugh. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

SOMETHING SPECIAL TURNIP-ED EVENTUALLY
WEHT: “Valentine’s Day is a chance to get your significant other something special. Sometimes, people will let you in on what they’re looking for, but one Ohio County man’s Valentine’s mix-up caused some big laughs on Thursday. Allan and Nina Harris, of Hartford, [Kentucky] have been married since 2006. For Valentine’s Day this year, Nina wanted something that would last so she told Allan that if he got her flowers, she’d like some tulips that she could plant outside. Tulips are an annual, which means they will come back every year. However, Nina did not know how to react when Allan showed up with turnips for Valentine’s Day on Thursday. Allan had apparently misunderstood what Nina wanted. Once the couple worked through what had happened, Allan did eventually go and get some tulips as well.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“One price of demystifying the universe is that science, unlike religion, asks only how, not why. As to the purpose of things, science is silent. But if science cannot talk about meaning, it can talk about harmony. And Halley’s [Comet] is at once a symbol and a proof of a deep harmony of the spheres.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 13, 1985. 

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Trump declares national emergency, avoids shutdown – Time Out: Teddy’s bears – Fox Poll: Majority thinks Dems can unseat Trump in 2020 – Schultz won’t run if Dems nominate a centrist – Something special turnip-ed eventually

TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY, AVOIDS SHUTDOWN
NYT:President Trump declared a national emergency at the border on Friday to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over separation of powers. In a televised announcement in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said he would sign the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security. ‘We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other,’ he said. … The declaration will enable Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.”

Will a legal war be next? – Politico: “President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency … is set to unleash a furious legal war that could bog down the project for months or years. Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are all loudly signaling plans for a hail of legal writs aimed at blocking the president from what they have denounced as an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process. … [H]istorically it has been almost unthinkable for judges to interfere with or second-guess a president’s declaration of a military or national security emergency. However, legal experts said Trump’s history of erratic and inflammatory statements, his frequent rhetorical disconnects with senior officials in his administration and his tendency to see crises that others view as completely contrived mean that challengers stand a strong chance of finding a judge willing to throw a monkey wrench into the president’s plans.”

Fox Poll: Most voters favor immigration deal – Fox News: “A sizable majority of voters favors a broad immigration deal that includes a border barrier, non-barrier security measures, and humanitarian aid. At the same time, support for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border stands its highest since 2015. The number favoring the wall inched up for the second time in two months to 46 percent, according to the latest Fox News Poll. It was 43 percent last month during the government shutdown and 39 percent in September. The high mark was 50 percent in November 2015. Currently, 50 percent oppose the wall, down one point since January. A bipartisan 66 percent majority favors a budget deal that includes funding for some form of a border barrier, plus other security measures and humanitarian relief.”

THE RULEBOOK: STAY IN YOUR LANE
“In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 14

TIME OUT: TEDDY’S BEARS
History: “On this day in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution. One of Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting expeditions provided the inspiration for the Teddy bear. … Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. (The age, sex and state of health of the bear remain contested.) While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove.]

FOX POLL: MAJORITY THINKS DEMS CAN UNSEAT TRUMP IN 2020
Fox News: “After President Donald Trump took office, many voters doubted he would finish his term, much less stand for re-election. But, as the 2020 race heats up, voters are increasingly confident the eventual Democratic nominee will indeed face off against the current occupant of the White House. In August 2017, 58 percent thought Trump would finish his term. Now 70 percent do, according to the latest Fox News Poll released Thursday. The poll also found, paradoxically, an even higher number — 80 percent — think Trump will run for re-election. Fourteen percent do not. … So what are the odds the Democrats defeat Trump? A 55-percent majority say either excellent (19 percent) or good (36 percent) while 39 percent think they have either no chance (13 percent) or not much of one (26 percent). Most Democrats (84 percent) and a plurality of independents (48 percent) think the Democratic Party’s chances are excellent or good…”

Iowa Poll: Voters think a ‘seasoned’ politician can defeat Trump – Des Moines Register:Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders top the list of potential presidential candidates preferred by Iowa’s likely Democratic caucus-goers, reflecting their belief that it will take political experience to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. The results are part of a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll, setting the stage for the contest that will sweep across Iowa in the next 14 months. … Nearly half of poll respondents in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state — 49 percent — say the right person to defeat Trump should be a ‘seasoned political hand’ rather than a ‘newcomer.’ … Thirty-six percent of poll respondents say a political ‘newcomer’ is best suited to defeat the president. In that role, Iowans currently favor Beto O’Rourke…”

Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Weld announces exploratory committee – ABC News: “Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP establishment, announced an exploratory committee for president on Friday, becoming the first Republican to move toward a serious primary challenge against President Donald Trump. There are new signs he won’t be the last. In the immediate aftermath of the 73-year-old Weld’s announcement at a breakfast event in New Hampshire, a senior aide for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich indicated Kasich is likely to launch a primary challenge as well. … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, met privately last week with conservative leader Bill Kristol, who’s driving an effort to recruit a top-tier Trump primary challenger and operatives on the ground in key states. … Weld’s move makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.”

Team Trump keeping close eye on Harris, Warren and Booker – Politico: “Donald Trump’s political advisers are homing in on three declared Democratic candidates who they believe are the most viable at this early stage of the campaign. The reelection campaign has begun compiling opposition research on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and is eyeing opportunities to attack them. … Trump’s advisers are certain the list of announced Democratic candidates will grow exponentially before the first primary debate in June, and that their targets are certain to fluctuate over time. … Interviews with more than two dozen of the president’s closest advisers reveal that the Trump operation is watching the opening days of the Democratic primary with a mix of relief over the field’s sprint to the left, surprise over Harris’ impressive launch, and trepidation over the prospect of Joe Biden and Sherrod Brown threatening Trump’s Midwest stranglehold.”

SCHULTZ WON’T RUN IF DEMS NOMINATE A CENTRIST
WaPo: “Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would be willing to abandon his presidential ambitions midstream if Democrats nominate a centrist who makes it too difficult for him to win as an independent candidate. Schultz, who made the comments while visiting The Washington Post, has premised his exploration of a presidential campaign on the assumption that Democrats are likely to nominate a candidate that embraces what he calls ‘far-left’ ideas that will turn off enough moderate voters to open space for an independent candidate. He has paid for internal polling that he says suggest he would be competitive in a three-way race against President Trump and a liberal Democratic candidate such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A more moderate Democratic nominee, such as former vice president Joe Biden or former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, could complicate Schultz’s perceived path to victory.”

Beto heads to the Midwest – Politico: “Beto O’Rourke is hitting the road again, this time for the Midwest. Following a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday, the former Texas congressman and potential presidential candidate will visit with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday. He will then travel to Chicago, where he will address a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Saturday. Julián Castro, who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event. O’Rourke’s meeting with students is closed to the media, a spokesman confirmed. … The events mark O’Rourke’s first public steps outside of Texas since a solo road trip that drew widespread attention throughout the Southwest. The visits come as O’Rourke edges closer to a presidential campaign. He has said he will make a decision about entering the race by the end of the month.”

Poll: New Jersey voters aren’t feeling Booker’s presidential bid – Monmouth University: “Sen. Cory Booker’s nascent presidential bid may get mixed reviews in his home state, but he starts off on much better footing than New Jersey’s last major contender, former governor Chris Christie. The Monmouth University Poll finds that Booker continues to earn a net positive job rating from Garden State residents, although his disapproval numbers have climbed. Most feel he will not be able to keep up with his senatorial duties while he is running for president but don’t think he needs to resign. However, if Booker is able to win the Democratic nomination, most New Jerseyans say he should forego a simultaneous run to retain his U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Booker earns a 48% approve to 36% disapprove rating from Garden State residents for his performance as the state’s junior U.S. senator. … [Booker’s] disapproval rating is the highest it has been since he took office in 2013.”

Dems announce first debate details – NYT: “The Democratic National Committee on Thursday unveiled the criteria for participation in the first two presidential primary debates, splitting the debates across two consecutive nights to accommodate an already sprawling field of candidates. … To qualify, a candidate must either reach 1 percent in three approved polls or raise at least $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 different states. Each candidate’s slot will be selected by a random drawing. The criteria will apply only to the first two debates, scheduled for back-to-back weeknights in June and July, allowing the committee to update its requirements as the field shifts. NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo are sponsoring the first debate, and CNN will host the second, with specific dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to work NBC News

Pergram: ‘Trump needs a transfer, may have to rob Peter to pay Paul’ Fox News

Interesting read: ‘The most important new woman in Congress is not who you think’Politico

SupCo to decide whether citizenship question can be included in 2020 census Fox News

McCabe rep downplays DOJ discussions on using 25th Amendment to oust TrumpFox News

AUDIBLE: TIME WILL TELL
“We’re nicer people. I mean look who they produced.” – Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said of Republicans and Trump to Politico. Brown added that Democrats will continue to remain nice to one another through primary season.  

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rush Limbaugh. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

SOMETHING SPECIAL TURNIP-ED EVENTUALLY
WEHT: “Valentine’s Day is a chance to get your significant other something special. Sometimes, people will let you in on what they’re looking for, but one Ohio County man’s Valentine’s mix-up caused some big laughs on Thursday. Allan and Nina Harris, of Hartford, [Kentucky] have been married since 2006. For Valentine’s Day this year, Nina wanted something that would last so she told Allan that if he got her flowers, she’d like some tulips that she could plant outside. Tulips are an annual, which means they will come back every year. However, Nina did not know how to react when Allan showed up with turnips for Valentine’s Day on Thursday. Allan had apparently misunderstood what Nina wanted. Once the couple worked through what had happened, Allan did eventually go and get some tulips as well.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“One price of demystifying the universe is that science, unlike religion, asks only how, not why. As to the purpose of things, science is silent. But if science cannot talk about meaning, it can talk about harmony. And Halley’s [Comet] is at once a symbol and a proof of a deep harmony of the spheres.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 13, 1985. 

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

Biden, Bernie, Beto Oh My what a Generational Divide they Weave as they practice to …. The yawning age gap emerging in the Democratic 2020 field could force primary voters to choose between the party’s old and new guards. Former Vice President Joe Biden is 76. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is 37. Rep. Eric Swalwell is 38. Sen. […]


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