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15
A little known prairie lawyer got up and gave a speech at the Democratic Convention in 1896 and the next day was nominated for President.
 
Last weekend, a conservative posted a link to this speech on Twitter with a one word comment: Wow.
 
It’s Elizabeth Warren’s talking about Citigroup and it’s as close to William Jennings Bryan talking about a ‘Cross of Gold’ as anyone’s heard in a long time.  

 

 

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08

 

Obama and the Republican Leaders in Congress are eyeball to eyeball over immigration with the President saying he’s done a fine noble deed to bring five million people out of the shadows and with Republicans saying Obama’s fine noble deed is just an unconstitutional power grab.
 
They’re having a fine row but the odd fact is Obama and the Republican Leaders don’t really disagree.
 
According to Obama when he gets to court he’s going to say, Your Honor, Congress told me to deport 11.3 million people but they only gave me the money to deport 400,000 a year – so I’ve set priorities. I’m going to deport the major crooks first, the minor crooks second, other troublesome folks third and until that’s done I’m going to let everyone else come out of the shadows and live like normal people – and, by the way, my priorities (like deporting the felons and gang members first) are the same priorities Congress set in bills it passed.
           
And it’s a safe bet the Republican Leaders in Congress aren’t going to give the President a ga-million dollars to deport all 11.3 million illegal immigrants. The Republicans don’t want to spend the money. Obama doesn’t want them to spend the money. And neither side wants to find out what happens if they try to round up 11.3 million people and ship them home.
 
So, if Obama wins (and his Executive Order stands) millions of illegal immigrants will stay right here, and if the Republicans win they’ll stay right here too.
 
So, what’s the squabbling over?

 

 

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21
All American politics today – the battle over immigration, the election two weeks ago and even legislative elections in North Carolina – is all about Barack Obama.
 
Presidents always dominate the political scene. But this is a special case. Yes, it’s about race. But it’d also about something more, something deeper in America’s psyche.
 
Here’s a theory. The election of Obama in 2008 as our first African-American President was a shock to the American system, both pro and con. For blacks and for whites who cared about equal rights, even if they didn’t vote for Obama, it was an historic step forward. For many other people, well, not so much.
 
At the very same time, we went through another huge shock to the system: what felt and looked like an economic collapse. I know very smart and very affluent people who were so worried they were hoarding as much cold cash as they could. It’s as close as we’ve ever come to feeling the fear that our parents and grandparents felt in the Depression.
 
So we had a double-whammy: our first black President and an aggressive – and controversial – effort by the federal government to intervene in the economy and prevent a collapse. An effort begun, although this is totally forgotten today, by the Republican administration of President George W. Bush.
 
Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulsen, famously got down on one knee and begged then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi to save his plan to save Wall Street.
 
Somehow in our minds, that all morphed into an image of Obama as a Welfare King, taking money away from honest, hard-working people and giving it to lazy, good-for-nothings who just want a handout – the Great Redistributor.
 
Which then led to Wall Street types like Mitt Romney, who were rescued by Paulsen’s plan, blasting Obama for raiding “makers” and rewarding “takers.”
 
Now that narrative has taken hold, and Democratic politicians and political operatives in North Carolina this year tell about voters – especially older white voters – who refuse to even talk with a candidate who is a Democrat, let alone vote for him or her.
 
As one consultant said, “White, working voters – young and old – see everybody else getting help. The government helps poor people, the government helps big banks and now Obama wants to help immigrants. Well, what about me? What about my job, my income, my retirement? What about my children graduating from college with a huge debt and not being able to get a job?”
 
The divide in the Democratic Party today is whether to try to answer their questions – or to simply drive up turnout among those people (judging from the Tillis-Hagan race, 47 percent this year) who have stuck with Obama.
 
The Republican Party has chosen its course: No to Obama, all the time, whatever he does.
 
But a party of No ultimately has no future. Especially if the other party figures out how to bridge the divide. And say Yes to everybody who’s trying to make it in America.

 

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03
It’s hard to sort out: Kaci Hickox sees healing the ill in Africa as a noble calling but protecting Americans from Ebola as pure villainy.
 
Ole Obama rides to Hickox’s rescue, saying Chris Christie’s a mean-hearted varmint stigmatizing heroes with his quarantine then, in his next breath, Obama announces the Army’s going to quarantine soldiers returning from the Ebola Zone.
 
So, now, Christie’s stigmatizing Hickox and Obama’s stigmatizing the Army. 
 
It’s like Alice Through the Looking Glass: Helping the Africans is noble. Protecting Americans is wicked. Quarantining soldiers is good. Quarantining Hickox is bad. Up’s down. And down’s up.


 

 

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28

Kaci Hickox was mad as hops – she’d gotten off the plane in Newark, been hustled straight into quarantine, and three days later she was still in quarantine only by then she’d hired a lawyer to sue Governor Chris Christie.

A few days before Ms. Hickox flew from Sierra Leone to Newark, a doctor, who’d come home to New York after treating Ebola patients in Guinea, came down with Ebola – and Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie promptly ordered medical workers returning from West Africa to be quarantined.
 
Ms. Hichox landed in Newark about an hour later. And, by nightfall, the Obama Administration was criticizing Cuomo and Christie for the quarantines.
 
Back in 1952 there were 57,000 cases of polio: 3,000 people died and another 21,000 were paralyzed and we declared a war on polio.  In 1955, Jonas Salk invented the Salk vaccine and in 1961 there were 161 cases of polio.
 
Now we need to declare war on Ebola – instead of denouncing quarantines.
 
A person gets the Ebola virus by coming in contact with a sick person. The virus then incubates for up to 3 weeks and at some point, during that time, the person starts showing symptoms of the disease. From the moment that happens, anyone who comes in contact with them can also be infected.
 
According to the Administration that’s not a problem because, as soon as someone shows symptoms, they’ll voluntarily check into a hospital. But that didn’t happen when a nurse with a fever, who’d treated an Ebola patient, boarded an airplane and flew to Cleveland – with the CDC’s approval.
 
And it didn’t happen with the doctor in New York City – according to the officials, after the first symptoms appeared he spent the evening in a bowling alley.
 
Maybe it’s unlikely someone who’s had contact with an Ebola patient will infect other people, but quarantining them for 21 days avoids that risk which is what Governor Christie decided to do.
 
Quarantines won’t cure Ebola but they can slow it down and give the next Jonas Salk time to find a vaccine.

 

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24
The other day our top General went over to the Senate and said turning the Iraqi army into a real fighting force may not be possible ;--then he said no one knows who the ‘moderate’ Syrian Rebels will attack once they’re armed – they might attack ISIS or might attack Bashar Assad and, regardless of who they attack, arming just 5000 ‘moderate’ Syrians (as the President proposes) isn’t going to be nearly enough to whip anyone.
 
Meanwhile the same day, over in Iraq, the success of our bombing campaign was limited to blowing up a truck, an artillery piece, and two small boats on the Euphrates River.
 
This is an odd – but familiar – picture.
 
It’s beginning to look a lot like we may be getting into another ‘political’ war: If the President does nothing he gets pilloried but if he does what it takes to destroy ISIS (by putting boots on the ground) he gets run out of town on a rail – so he’s sailing down the middle ground uneasily doing what’s popular and avoiding what’s unpopular which may come back to haunt him – like it has other Presidents.

 

 

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23

Two things happened the other day: One nasty. The other confounding.
 
First ISIS posted a video on the Internet telling President Obama (in no uncertain terms) to watch out – it is going to target every American soldier he sends to Iraq.
 
Second, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, our top General, added a new wrinkle to the meaning of the words ‘no boots on the ground’ – telling Congress it may just turn out, one of these days, that he might recommend American soldiers join Iraqi troops in “attacks.”  That wouldn’t, he added , mean GI’s would be in combat. Instead, they’d simply be “close combat advisors.”
 
Now think about that.
 
It’s a pretty bad thing to send a soldier into combat alongside a brigade of his buddies – who’ll stick with him through thick and thin.
 
But it’s a lot worse thing to send him into combat with a brigade of Iraqis – when that happens a ‘close combat advisor’ could wind up alone in a foxhole with no buddies in sight.

 

 

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22
Ken Burns’ remarkable series on the Roosevelts makes it clear that Franklin D. Roosevelt never would have passed the Gary Hart adultery test.
 
Would that have been good for America?
 
As Burns’ series was ending, The New York Times published a story by Matt Bai on the scandal that ended Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign – and how it “forever changed American politics.”
 
Surely, Hart was no FDR. But Hart offers this might-have-been: He might have beaten George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush might not have become President “and we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. And a lot of people would be alive who are dead.”
 
Bai reconstructs the story that shifted the goal of political journalists from being well-connected insiders who knew Presidents intimately (Teddy White, James Reston) to being truth-telling investigators who brought down Presidents, or at least presidential candidates (Woodward and Bernstein). Which led to bad boys whose careers were shattered (John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer) and those who survived (Bill Clinton) and those who came back (Mark Sanford).
 
Yes, we want to know the character of the men (and women) who want to be President – or any elected official. But, if you’re going to indulge in the alternative history of a President Gary Hart, consider an alternative history in which the press corps kept FDR out of the White House.

 

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22
The way the President figures it the Iraqi army’s going to supply the ‘boots on the ground’ to whip ISIS but the other day, up in Congress, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said half the Iraqi army isn’t fit to fight and the other half will have to be rebuilt “with U.S. training and equipment” before it can fight.
 
Part One of the President’s plan to whip ISIS is bombing – and that’s going fine.
 
But Part Two – putting Iraqi boots on the ground – just took a nosedive.

 

 

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19
President Obama came out swinging, saying, We have to act fast. We cannot dawdle on this one. We have to move with force – but he wasn’t talking about ISIS, he was talking about the Ebola virus and sending 3000 soldiers (putting boots on the ground) to Africa.
 
Each of us looks at villains thru different eyes: The muhjadeen I see as a murderous terrorist, Sally may see as the exploited victim of colonialism. The fear that sets my teeth on edge, may barely cause her a lost moments sleep.
           
Responding to the Ebola virus the President emanated strength but you have to wonder what would have happened if he had shown the same kind of strength when ISIS went on its rampage – instead of saying, Be calm. The world’s always been messy.

 

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
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