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BYRON YORK: In Cuba deal, why did Obama back down on political prisoners?

Barack Obama has long believed United States Cuba policy should change; he so when he first ran for president in 2008. Back then, though, Sen. Obama stressed that the U.S. should hold Cuba to a number of stringent conditions before even beginning to normalize relations. The first of those conditions was freedom for Cuba’s political prisoners.

Obama laid out his proposal in a May 23, 2008 speech in Miami. Noting the “unanswered cries of the political prisoners heard from the jails of Havana,” Obama said his policy toward Cuba “will be guided by one word: libertad.”

“The road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners,” Obama said. The value of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, Obama went on to explain, is that it “provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps towards democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations.”

Beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners. It was a pretty clear demand. Only after freedom was granted would Obama begin normalizing relations.

Fast forward six and a half years. In an address from the Cabinet Room Wednesday, President Obama announced that he would “begin to normalize relations” with Cuba through “the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years.” But the president did not insist on freedom for all political prisoners, which had once been a requirement for even the first steps toward normalization.

I wish that Senator Obama fellow were President. He seemed fairly sensible. This President Obama guy, on the other hand, isn’t so into free speech.

BARACK OBAMA’S PRESSER PROBLEM — NOT THAT HE JUST TOOK QUESTIONS FROM WOMEN, but that he took so few questions at all.

VARIETY: How Obama Took Sony’s Crisis From Bad to Worse.

ANSWERING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: What Obama’s Cuba Deal Means for the Future of Cuban Cigars: Don’t stop hoarding those Cuban cigars just yet.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Next Up in America: The Liberal Retreat.

As the United States staggers toward the seventh year of Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, a growing disquiet permeates the ranks of the American left. After six years of the most liberal President since Jimmy Carter, the nation doesn’t seem to be asking for a second helping. Even though the multiyear rollout of Obamacare was carefully crafted to put all the popular features up front, delaying less popular changes into the far future, the program remains unpopular. Trust in the fairness and competence of government is pushing toward new lows in the polls, even though the government is now in the hands of forward-looking, progressive Democrats rather than antediluvian Gopers.

For liberals, these are bleak times of hollow victories (Obamacare) and tipping points that don’t tip. For examples of the latter, think of Sandy Hook, the horrific massacre in Connecticut that Democrats and liberals everywhere believed would finally push the American public toward gun control. Two years later, polls show more Americans than ever before think it’s more important to protect gun access than to promote gun control.

Sandy Hook isn’t the only example. There was the latest 2014 IPCC report on climate change that was going to end the debate once and for all. The chances for legislative action on climate change in the new Congress: zero or less. There was Ferguson and the Garner videotape showing the fatal chokehold, both of which set off a wave of protests but seem unlikely to change public attitudes about the police. There was the Senate Intelligence Committee “torture report” that was going to settle the issue of treatment of detainees. Again, the polls are rolling in suggesting that the public remains exactly where it was: supportive of “torture” under certain circumstances. And of course there was the blockbuster Rolling Stone article on campus rape at UVA, the story that, before it abruptly collapsed, was going to cement public support for the Obama administration’s aggressive attempt to federalize the treatment of sexual harassment on campuses around the country. . . .

Shell-shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the U.S. Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.

It’s like Americans insist on remaining Americans.

OBAMA’S ENTIRE PRESIDENCY HAS BEEN ABOUT REVENGE: Politico: Operation Revenge: President Obama is back in his campaign comfort zone: Smiting his political enemies.

TOM MAGUIRE: Obama’s Senior Moment.

ANOTHER LEFTY SOCIAL-MEDIA CAMPAIGN TURNS OUT TO BE A FRAUD: #illridewithyou Was Even More Fraudulent Than I Thought.

When an Islamic terrorist took hostages in a Sydney, Australia cafe this week, the first thing our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters did — before the siege was even over, before two of the hostages were killed — was change the subject.

The real victims weren’t the hostages. The real victims were Muslims who were too scared to use public transportation because of the imminent anti-Muslim violence that never happened. To combat this nonexistent threat, some genius proposed the Twitter hashtag #illridewithyou, which was supposed to somehow show solidarity with the “victims.” And of course, it went viral among journalists and other people who don’t care about the truth.

As it turns out, #illridewithyou was an even emptier gesture than I first thought. The incident that so inspired all those smug leftists worldwide didn’t actually happen.

But it was successful in portraying Muslims to whom nothing had happened as the real victims in the immediate aftermath of the Sydney jihad-murders, and that was the point.

Jim Treacher observes:

The only bigotry here is among people who assumed the worst about their fellow man. People who went along with the idea that innocent Muslims were in danger, and damn the evidence or lack thereof. People who couldn’t face facts.

Finding no ready target for their confused rage at the unwelcome intrusion of reality into their carefully constructed fantasy world, these people did what they always do:

They lied.

No wonder Obama thought it was great.

Notice that the lefties spend a lot of time trying to keep part of the populace riled up, and the rest of the populace embarrassed and apathetic. I wonder what would happen if the balance-of-anger were reversed? Their fear and hatred of the Tea Party suggests that they’d find that catastrophic.

TWEET OF THE YEAR: My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.

FRUITS OF THE POISONOUS TREE: Two NY City Police Officers Shot Dead in Brooklyn.

Now, if I were to analyze this incident the same way that liberals analyze similar incidents where they think they can blame conservatives, I would blame the shootings of these two officers on liberal websites fanning the flames of rage against the police. I would blame the murders on Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Caucus, the parents of Michael Brown — all the race hustlers who have been exploiting the situation for their own benefit.

I’d blame Eric Holder and Barack Obama for pandering to black anger. I’d blame the climate of cop hatred that has been created by so-called activists and has sprung up and infected black communities across the country.

But I’m not a liberal so I am going to withhold judgment until we find out why the perpetrator committed this horrific act.

Well, it looks like it was payback for Eric Garner.

UPDATE: Gunman kills self after 2 NYPD cops fatally shot ‘execution style’ as ‘revenge’ for Garner.

The two officers were pronounced dead at Woodhull Hospital, where their colleagues and family members huddled tearfully.

City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio were less than welcome guests at the poignant gathering.

“We’re all in this together,” the mayor told grieving cops, according to a cop who was there.

“No we’re not,” one officer said tersely in response.

Just last week cops began signing a “Don’t Insult My Sacrifice” waiver, distributed by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, that warned the mayor and speaker to stay away from funerals of cops killed in the line of duty.

It’s going to get ugly in New York, I expect.

AS OPPOSED TO THE USUAL EUNUCHS, I GUESS: Obama takes questions only from female reporters. But this is just sad: “Considering what turned out to be a poor ending for the year in women’s issues — namely campus sexual assault — Obama needed to bring attention back on women. Obama tried in April to spearhead a movement this year and continue the momentum of the ‘war on women’ narrative, but it suffered a number of setbacks: Due process supporters piped up, a major story about campus rape was exposed as a hoax, Republicans defeated candidates who overdid the ‘war on women’ theme. To put it briefly, the president needed a win, and this is what he came up with.”

OBAMA: Sony Made A “Mistake,” And We Need More Controls On The Internet.

I PREFER THE TERM “SELF-BECLOWNING,” BUT “AUTO-HUMILIATION” WORKS TOO: Tom Maguire: Let Me Highlight Charles Blow’s Auto-Humiliation. “We can find some answers to Mr. Blow’s questions in Mrs. Obama’s description of the same incident to David Letterman in 2012.”

THE PR GETS MORE SHAMELESS AS THE NUMBER WHO BELIEVE IT SHRINKS: David Harsanyi: Let’s Talk About Obama’s Imaginary ‘Winning Streak.’ “There are two ways to explain this phenomenon: Some folks are engaged in a lot of wishful thinking or we’ve severely downgraded the meaning of winning. Then again, maybe it’s a little of both.”

BYRON YORK: How rusty is Jeb Bush?

Jeb Bush, who on Tuesday announced that he has “decided to actively explore the possibility of running for president,” last ran for political office in 2002. (The race was for a second term as governor of Florida, and Bush won.) If Bush runs in 2016, that will be a 14-year gap between his last run for office and his attempt to win the White House.

That’s a long time. In fact, Bush’s 14-year gap is bigger than any general-election presidential candidate in recent memory.

When Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012, he had run for the Republican nomination four years earlier and for governor of Massachusetts six years before that. When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he had run for the Senate four years earlier. When John McCain ran against Obama in 2008, he had also run for Senate four years earlier. When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, he had run for Senate two years earlier. . . .

Campaigns need fresh candidates. Talk to political consultants and they’ll tell you that sitting out even one electoral cycle can not only make a candidate rusty but can also make him or her unfamiliar with the sometimes overwhelming ways in which campaigns change over the course of four years. Jeb Bush might be able to overcome those challenges. But it probably won’t be easy.

I’m not impressed with his candidacy.

ERIC HOLDER CALLED US A NATION OF COWARDS, BUT BARACK OBAMA MADE US ONE: Theaters cancel ‘Team America’ showings.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Ecuador Family Wins Favors After Donations to Democrats. “The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials.”

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Obama Goes Cowboy On Cuba:

With respect to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the true cowboy diplomat may be the White House’s current occupant.

President Obama, as he has shown all year, isn’t about to go quietly into the lame-duck night, even with Republicans ready to take full power down the street. With the stunning announcement Wednesday that the United States is set to normalize relations with Cuba, the president is closing his self-termed “Year of Action” with a thunderclap.

In doing so, Obama is serving notice to new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that a sitting president trumps a Congress divided both along party lines and within them. The shift comes about a month after the last time the president thrust his stick into the GOP’s eye, when Obama announced he was unilaterally providing widespread deportation relief to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.

Flashback: “The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States of America.” That Senator Obama seemed like a sensible fellow. I wish he were President now.

THE HILL: Can Obama Lift Cuba Embargo Alone? Why the hell not? He does everything else that way.

President Obama has significant powers at his disposal to make the U.S. trade and travel embargoes on Cuba meaningless, though action by Congress is required to formally lift the sanctions.

Six separate laws dictate the terms of sanctions on Cuba. They range from the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.

It was President John F. Kennedy who prohibited U.S. exports to Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act shortly after Fidel Castro took control of the island nation.

Since then, Congress has moved periodically to toughen the sanctions with legislation, and a series of presidents have also taken executive steps to tighten or loosen the screws on Cuba.

Experts agree that Obama, who with actions on healthcare and immigration has signaled a willingness to test the lengths of executive power, has significant discretion when it comes to U.S. policy toward Cuba.

The six laws are written in a way to give the executive branch latitude in enforcing the law, and regulations are used to implement many of the sanctions.

It’s clear that a lot of our immigration and national security laws were written with certain assumptions about the Chief Executive in mind, assumptions that no longer hold.

BYRON YORK: Did Ted Cruz really bungle the lame-duck session for Republicans?

There are four problems with the anti-Cruz scenario. The first is that on Dec. 9, days before Cruz threw a wrench in the works, Reid signaled his intention to confirm all of Obama’s remaining nominees, no matter how long it took. . . . The bottom line is that President Obama and Democrats got the confirmations they wanted — just as they planned and intended, regardless of anything Ted Cruz did. As he made clear before it all began, Harry Reid was going to make full use of his last chance to confirm his party’s nominees. It would have made no sense for him to do otherwise.

Yes, but both Democrats and establishment GOP folks are happy to band together to attack Cruz. Which says something. . . .

OBAMA ANNOUNCES “NEW CHAPTER” ON CUBA. “The Obama administration will initiate diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana in coming months, the president said. . . . The president also announced measures to ease travel and the flow of goods between the United States and Cuba. However, the embargo on Cuba cannot be lifted without congressional approval. And critics accused the president of putting his legacy ahead of achieving democratic reforms in the communist nation.”

I’d love for Cuba to open up so I can get a cheap Caribbean beachfront place. But it would have to decommunize before that was worthwhile.

MICHELLE OBAMA ENCOUNTERS THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY AT TARGET. Or maybe not: “A different explanation is that somebody mistook Michelle for someone who was tall, athletic, and happy to help. And hey, two out of three ain’t bad.”

What’s interesting to me about this obviously-contrived episode is how hard the Obamas are working to position themselves as Super-Sharptons for the post-presidency.

ROGER SIMON: We need a wartime consigliere.

Actually, we need a wartime President. Obama has a wartime consigliere, it’s just not for the war Roger wants to focus on.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Blacks Falling Behind Under ObamaCare.

SORRY, BUT I’M UNENTHUSED: Jeb Bush Fires 2016 Starting Pistol. Jeb’s a nice guy, and would certainly be a better President than Obama — but, then, my cat would be a better President than Obama, and I don’t own a cat.

I don’t want any more Bushes or Clintons. It’s embarrassing to see this kind of dynasticism in America. My concern is that the GOP’s donor class can only get interested in candidates that the GOP’s base finds unappealing, and vice versa.

HMM: First District Court Ruling On Obama Executive Amnesty Finds It Unconstitutional. “According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes ‘beyond prosecutorial discretion’ in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.”

MICKEY KAUS: Is Obama Trying To Lose The Amnesty Lawsuit?

KURT SCHLICHTER MOCKS SECESSIONIST FANTASIES: Blue America Without Red America Would Be A Basket Case.

I had some related thoughts here.

WHAT’S SAD IS THAT IN THE OBAMA ERA IT’S ENTIRELY PLAUSIBLE: Matt Drudge says spending bill passed because NSA has ‘dirt’ on John Boehner.

Matt Drudge of the influential Drudge Report news aggregation site expressed discontent over a federal spending bill that passed with votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the House.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill that runs through September 2015 is now up for a vote in the Democratically-led Senate. Many conservatives, including Drudge, are upset that the bill funds both Obamacare and President Obama’s immigration executive orders.

“Obama got EVERYTHING,” Drudge tweeted Friday. “NSA dirt on Boehner must be incredible. Chicago wins.”

I’ve seen similar speculation about John Roberts in the ObamaCare case. Sad what this country has become under the Obama Machine.

SHOCKER: “Green” Europe Fudging Car Emissions Numbers.

Europeans sip gasoline while Americans guzzle it, or at least that’s how the story goes. But as the Economist reports, once you look under the hood, Europe’s fuel efficiency emissions standards are a little suspect. . . .

Contrast that with the U.S., which, under President Obama, has enacted some very strong fuel efficiency standards that are putting a sizable dent in our nation’s carbon footprint, even without the kinds of test fudging seen across the Atlantic. Europe likes to think itself a paragon of green policies, but with electricity costs spiraling and coal consumption rising, it looks like it’s having to resort to some fuzzy math to defend its eco-friendly status.

Pretty typical, for the EU.

RAND PAUL’S REVENGE: Now That The Senate Is Done Investigating Torture, Will Drone Killings Be Next?

President Obama’s targeted killing program has been one of the more confounding strategical decisions of his presidency. For liberal supporters who voted to elect a constitutional-law professor in 2008 and a candidate who had campaigned against harsh interrogation practices like waterboarding, it would have been hard to imagine that just years later they’d see a president who keeps a “kill list” of suspected terrorists. . . .

“I was not satisfied with the legal analysis that I read in the classified document by the Department of Justice,” says Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is on the Intelligence Committee. “To me, when an American is involved, it raises very different questions then when we are striking a foreign terrorist.” Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who had worked with al-Qaida, was killed in a 2011 drone strike under legal authority the administration derived from the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Details about how drones are used to kill terrorists remain unknown, a fact leaders on Capitol Hill harbor concerns about. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is in line to be the next Senate Foreign Relations chairman, said it’s an area ripe for oversight.

President Obama says he’s really good at killing people.

WELL, YES: The Government’s Mandatory Calorie Counts May Be Hazardous to Your Health.

In a Reynolds Administration, the position of Food Czar will be held not by Michelle Obama, but by Gary Taubes.

UPDATE: Really? Really? People are giving me crap in the comments over an imaginary Reynolds Administration having imaginary czars? Well yes, yes they are.

GLEICHSCHALTUNG! Next Time You Visit a National Park, You Might Get a Lecture on Climate Change.

Ettling has spent his summers working as a park ranger at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon for nearly a decade. He is on a mission to teach visitors that man-made global warming is real. But climate change can be a touchy subject. So Ettling devised a strategy. When a park visitor casts doubt on global warming, he makes an appeal to their pocketbook.

“I try to shift the conversation away from polar bears and ice caps,” Ettling says. “I tell people there are a lot of things they can do to save money on their electric bill that will also help the environment. Usually, I can get through to them that way.”

Do they pitch ObamaCare, too?

PETER SUDERMAN: Jonathan Gruber is a Liar. Was He a Liar Under Oath?

He seems to have spoken “glibly” on multiple occasions.

As The Hill notes, in a late 2010 lecture to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Gruber is a faculty member, he talked about the health law and described his role in its creation, saying, “Full disclaimer: I’m going to describe it objectively, but I helped write it.”

In another 2010 video, captured by C-SPAN and posted at Townhall, Gruber also noted his bias in favor of the law while claiming to have helped write it. “Once again, unabashed, I helped write the federal [health care] bill as well,” he said. That remark was made the same month that Obamacare was signed into law.

Two years later, Gruber hadn’t changed his story. In a now-infamous 2012 lecture on the law’s health exchanges at Noblis, Gruber not only said that states that don’t set up exchanges don’t have access to tax subsidies, he also referred to the “the one bit of the bill I actually wrote.”

The issue isn’t whether those statements were glib. It’s whether they were true. (Notably, when asked by Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-Tenn.) whether other embarassing videotaped statements were lies or not, Gruber would only say that his remarks were “glib and thoughtless and really inexcusable.”)

There is no way to reconcile his multiple past statements with the statements he made this week while under oath. Either Gruber spent two years lying about his role in writing the law, or he was lying this week in his sworn congressional testimony.

Will the statute of limitations run before Attorney General Kurt Schlichter takes over DOJ under President Cruz?

GOVERNMENT BY CROMNIBUS: Blind, Deaf and Dumb. The important thing is that members of Congress get to reward donors without taking clear responsibility.

Related: House Quietly Passes Monstrous, Privacy-Invading Intel Bill.

POLL: 70% Want Congress To Keep Probing IRS. “Call it a ‘kumbaya’ question, as majorities of Democrats (60 percent), independents (75 percent) and Republicans (78 percent) support lawmakers continuing to dig. The new poll also asked why the White House is refusing to release thousands of pages of documents related to the IRS targeting. By nearly three-to-one people think it’s because the administration wants to keep its role in the scandal secret (63 percent) rather than to keep taxpayer information confidential (22 percent). Even Democrats are more likely to say the Obama White House is withholding documents to hide its involvement (45 percent) rather than to protect taxpayers (35 percent).”

WELCOME TO THE CROWD, SISTER: Pelosi ‘enormously disappointed’ in Obama.

BYRON YORK: Obama opens fraud-ridden benefits programs to illegal immigrants.

President Obama’s unilateral executive action on immigration will make hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million, illegal immigrants eligible for federal transfer payments. That will be done primarily through two widely used programs — the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, and the Additional Child Tax Credit, or ACTC.

As it turns out, those two programs are already among the most corrupt and fraud-ridden in the entire federal government. A newly-released report from the inspector general of the Internal Revenue Service confirms that the EITC is plagued by fraud (which was already well known) and also reveals for the first time that the ACTC is even worse.

The two programs, intended for low-income workers, are what is known as refundable tax credits. That means they give workers a tax refund that is larger than their tax liability. So a family with a tax bill of $1,000 might receive an EITC “refund” of $5,000, meaning the family doesn’t write a check to the government but rather receives a check from the government. The ACTC works similarly for low-income workers with children.

Supported by both political parties over the years, the programs were intended to encourage work and strengthen families. Their growth has been extraordinary in recent years — payments increased 40 percent from 2007 to 2012 alone. And now both are beset by staggering levels of fraud.

To some that’s not a bug, but a feature.

ROLL CALL: GOP to Bring Up Bill Blocking Obama Immigration Action — Next Year.

WILL “CROMNIBUS” CROAK? White House Preps Feds For Shutdown. Wonder if they’ll engage in Obama’s patented pain-maximizing park-and-monument closures this time, when Elizabeth Warren is leading the charge?

Related: Ed Driscoll: Shutdowns Then and Now: Tanks for the Memories, TNR! “As always, for the left, the motto is, ‘It’s Different When We Do It.’”

Well, on the one hand it’s a transparently partisan flipflop. On the other hand, I’m kind of amazed to discover that there’s anyone left at TNR.

ANNALS OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” Obama’s foreign policy plans collide with wars abroad and politics at home. This says it all: “For the White House, the focus these days is on ‘sustainability,’ not victory.”

PUNISHMENT: IRS Is Big Loser in Government Funding Bill. “The 3.1% reduction in the budget of the Internal Revenue Service — bringing its funding below its 2008 level — comes amid Republican outrage over allegations IRS officials targeted conservative political groups for extra scrutiny of their filings for non-profit status.”

Related: Obama Justice Department Was Involved In IRS Targeting, Lerner Emails Reveal. When the GOP controls Congress next month, I hope they’ll do considerably more.

THE HILL: All Senate GOP staff going on ObamaCare. Note that the Dems aren’t interested. Know your place, peasants!

YEAH, WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE IT SUCKS: I’m an Obama supporter. But Obamacare has hurt my family. “Obamacare has been far more frustrating than I’d ever dreamed.” We tried to warn you, but they just called us racists.

AN INTERESTING JONATHAN GRUBER EXCHANGE:

“If there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn’t that save a ton of money too? … And do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?” Massie asked.

“I have no philosophy of abortion. I have no philosophy of end-of-life care,” Gruber answered. “My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts so that you all can make the necessary decisions.”

Pressing further, Massie asked Gruber if he advocates the rationing of end-of-life care, and “as an economist, does it save money?”

“I do not advocate that the federal government should ration end-of-life care,” Gruber answered.

Uh huh.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: President who vowed to end war, now seeks sweeping power to expand it. The reliance on Bush’s 2001 AUMF is delicious.

THE HILL: Gruber testimony fuels ObamaCare attacks.

Related: How much did he make? Gruber won’t say.

PETER SUDERMAN: Jonathan Gruber’s Weak New Excuse for His Obamacare Exchange Subsidies “Speak-O.”

I THINK THE “TORTURE REPORT” RELEASE WAS SET FOR TODAY TO DISTRACT PEOPLE FROM THIS: Prez health care architect Jonathan Gruber to feel heat at hearing.

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber — the gaffe-prone MIT professor who boasted that Democrats purposely deceived the American public about the health care law — is expected to break his silence this morning in a much-anticipated congressional hearing Republicans predict will undo the Affordable Care Act.

“This is the beginning of the unraveling of Obama-care,” U.S. Rep John Mica (R-Fla.) told the Herald. “The hearing clearly will focus on the deception, some of the false information given to both the American public and the Congress in instituting it and getting it passed. … It may not be the repeal, but the rewriting of it and looking at how we can cover more people with less bureaucracy and less federal mandates.”

Gruber, an MIT economist who also sits on the Massachusetts Health Connector board, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner are slated to testify at a congressional hearing called “Examining ObamaCare Transparency Failures” before the GOP-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today.

Recently surfaced videos of Gruber bluntly stating that Obamacare passed thanks to a purposeful lack of transparency and the “stupidity of the American voter” gave critics new fodder for their feud with the White House. . . .

Democrats, meanwhile, are treating Gruber like political poison. A lawyer for the Obama administration last week asked committee chairman Darrell Issa for Tavenner to testify separately from Gruber, according to a report from Politico. The unusual request suggests the Obama administration is deeply worried about Tavenner and Gruber being photographed sitting side by side.

Relax guys. The press will cover for you. They don’t want to be on the receiving end for another of Obama’s profanity-laden diatribes.

UPDATE: Tea Party Group To Greet Gruber Wearing “I’m With Stupid” T-Shirts.

BLOOMBERG POLL: Approval Ratings Highest In 5 Years For GOP, Lowest Ever For Obama.

THE HILL: Obama approval on race relations drops.

President Obama’s approval rating on his handling of race relations has declined by 8 percentage points in the wake of controversial police killings of black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, New York, according to a new Pew/USA Today poll. . . . Obama’s approval on race relations has declined the most among black people, from 73 percent to 57 percent since August. Among white people, it has declined from 42 percent to 33 percent.

There may be more room to drop.

I DUNNO, CHAMP, PEOPLE HAVE SURE CUT YOU A LOT OF SLACK: Obama: Black Men Have Less Margin For Error. “Obama has been on the defensive in the wake of grand juries deciding not to indict white police officers in killings of black men in Ferguson and Staten Island, with some accusing the nation’s first black president of being too passive. He insisted in the interview that his administration was doing everything within its power to address the concerns of predominantly minority communities. . . . The president commended peaceful protests, saying that a ‘country’s conscience sometimes has to be triggered by some inconvenience.’” Yeah, I’m not sure that’s what these rush-hour road-blocking protests are going to trigger.

NO THANKS TO OBAMA’S POLICIES: The Rustbelt Roars Back From the Dead.

Urban America is often portrayed as a tale of two kinds of places, those that “have it” and those who do not. For the most part, the cities of the Midwest—with the exception of Chicago and Minneapolis—have been consigned to the second, and inferior, class. Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit or a host of smaller cities are rarely assessed, except as objects of pity whose only hope is to find a way, through new urbanist alchemy, to mimic the urban patterns of “superstar cities” like New York, San Francisco, Boston, or Portland.

Yet in reality, the rustbelt could well be on the verge of a major resurgence, one that should be welcomed not only locally but by the rest of the country. Two factors drive this change. One is the steady revival of America as a productive manufacturing country, driven in large part by new technology, rising wages abroad (notably in China), and the development of low-cost, abundant domestic energy, much of it now produced in states such as Ohio and in the western reaches of Pennsylvania.

The second, and perhaps more surprising, is the wealth of human capital already existent in the region. After decades of decline, this is now expanding as younger educated workers move to the area in part to escape the soaring cost of living, high taxes, and regulations that now weigh so heavily on the super-star cities. In fact, more educated workers now leave Manhattan and Brooklyn for places like Cuyahoga County and Erie County, where Cleveland and Buffalo are located, than the other way around.

So long as they don’t vote for the same suicidal anti-growth policies when they arrive in their new homes.

HE’S LIKE AN UNHOLY CROSSBREED OF JIMMY CARTER AND RICHARD NIXON: Ann Compton on Obama: He Launches ‘Profanity-Laced’ Tirades Against Press.

But what a thin-skinned, narcissistic little putz. No President has gotten such adulatory coverage, and he’s still unhappy?

YEAH, DON’T GET COCKY KIDS. OBAMA HAD STORIES LIKE THIS AFTER 2012. Inside Conservatives’ 7 Million-Strong ‘Digital Army.’

The digital army sprung to life with a click of a mouse in a nondescript office park in Alexandria. Less than 10 miles away, at the White House, the phones began to light up. One call came into the switchboard and then another. Thousands of people flooded the phone lines.

It was early August 2014, and the callers were conservatives lambasting President Obama for promising what they described as “executive amnesty.” The deluge of angry activists was not the work of a heavily coordinated national campaign, a pricey phone-banking operation, or really an exhaustive effort of any kind.

It resulted from a single post on Facebook.

The volume of calls was so high that, within hours, the White House complained it was a “security issue,” according to an email from the phone vendor hired to connect callers to the switchboard. More than 9,000 calls had been made before they pulled the plug. At the headquarters of ForAmerica, the conservative group that had launched the telephone broadside, the White House’s reaction was seen more as victory than defeat.

“We got our point across,” said David Bozell, ForAmerica’s executive director.

In the last four years, ForAmerica has quietly amassed what it likes to call a “digital army” on Facebook—a force that that now numbers more than 7 million. The group’s spectacular growth can be explained in part by the paid acquisition of its members through targeted advertising. But thanks to a daily stream of savvy and snackable red-meat messaging, these mercenaries have become loyal conservative digital soldiers whose engagement is attracting new recruits. These days, a routine post on ForAmerica’s page reaches more than 2 million people, achieves more than 100,000 “likes,” and has tens of thousands of people repost and comment.

Who’ll be ahead in 2016?

POLITIFACT SAYS YES: Has President Obama ‘lost’ more Democratic seats in Congress than other modern presidents? The story looks worse if you add governorships and state legislatures. . . .

GIVEN THAT THEIR WAR OF LEAKS AGAINST BUSH HELPED GET OBAMA ELECTED, MY SYMPATHY IS LIMITED: CIA Employees Feel That They’re Being “Thrown Under The Bus.”

BLOOMBERG POLL: Race Relations Have Worsened Under Obama.

In the Dec. 3-5 poll of 1,001 adults, 53 percent said race relations had gotten worse since Obama, the nation’s first black president, took office in 2009. That figure included 56 percent of white respondents and 45 percent of black respondents.

Only 9 percent of respondents said race relations had gotten better under Obama, including just 3 percent who said they had gotten a lot better. Thirty-six percent said relations had stayed about the same.

He ran as a post-racial uniter, but he’s been a race-baiting divider in office.

HE’S BECOMING THE LAMEST OF LAME DUCKS: Obama, congressional Dems show cracks in unity.

It used to be that Democrats would mutter under their breath about President Barack Obama and the White House.
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Now, with the midterm elections behind them, some leading members of the president’s own party are airing their frustrations with little restraint and charting their own course.

In speeches, negotiations and congressional hearings, several high-profile Democrats are disregarding the White House in ways large and small. The White House has responded with an extraordinary veto threat while Obama has made a round of calls to liberal Democrats urging them to stand up against their own leadership.

Well, you know, it wouldn’t take too many Dem defections to override a veto.

FROM THE COMMENTS OVER AT ACE’S some Pearl Harbor Day thoughts.

During the 3-1/2 years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, “We the People of the U.S.A.” produced the following:

22 aircraft carriers,
8 battleships,
48 cruisers,
349 destroyers,
420 destroyer escorts,
203 submarines,
34 million tons of merchant ships,
100,000 fighter aircraft,
98,000 bombers,
24,000 transport aircraft,
58,000 training aircraft,
93,000 tanks,
257,000 artillery pieces,
105,000 mortars,
3,000,000 machine guns, and
2,500,000 military trucks.

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb, and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.

It’s worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the Obama Administration couldn’t even build a web site that worked.

Ouch.

IT’S AS IF HE WAS JUST BROUGHT IN AS A DISTRACTION: Ebola czar Ron Klain returning to private sector.

Ron Klain, the man brought on by President Obama to run the administration’s response to the Ebola virus, will return to the private sector in 2015.

Klain, a former Fannie Mae and Cigna lobbyist, plans to return to his job with former AOL executive Steve Case by March 1, Fortune reported Friday.

“He has no intention of staying on in any other capacity here at the White House,” an administration official told Fortune. “Ron will do the job for which he was appointed and return to Revolution.”

Klain was appointed in October to oversee the combined response of government agencies after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was the first to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., passed away from the virus. Two of his nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, contracted the virus, but went on to recover.

But hey, it worked. I would be interested, though, in seeing a report of what he actually did in his six-week tenure.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE:BYRON YORK: In tough Senate race, pork couldn’t buy Landrieu victory. Neither the Louisiana Purchase nor the Cornhusker Kickback was enough to overcome the toxic effects of voting for ObamaCare. That’s because ObamaCare was that toxic, but perhaps also in some small part because people are less receptive to pork. And so Cassidy countered with the “post pork paradigm.”

So I guess it’s time to bring this flag out one more time.

FLASHBACK TO 2008: A Vote For Obama Is A Vote For Civility.

ROLL CALL: Three Things To Know About The Louisiana Runoff. “Landrieu is known for snatching victories from the jaws of defeat. But this year, the national environment that sunk many of her colleagues seems likely to overwhelm her as well. President Barack Obama is incredibly unpopular in Louisiana, and Cassidy has taken full advantage of that fact.”

OH, HELL NO — PUT THE CHAIRS EXTRA-CLOSE TOGETHER: HHS asks GOP: Keep us away from Gruber.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is asking lawmakers not to seat ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber next to Medicare’s top official when the two testify on Capitol Hill next week.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea wrote to the House Oversight Committee with the request, stating that government witnesses are “almost always afforded an opportunity” to sit alone or with other federal officials.

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“The accommodation of separate panels for government witnesses reflects important comity in congressional-executive relations,” Esquea wrote. “The relatively few exceptions to this practice reinforce the seriousness of this accommodation.”

The Oversight panel, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), is preparing to grill Gruber over his comments that the “stupidity of the American voter” and a “lack of transparency” helped ObamaCare pass in 2010.

“The request is currently before Chairman Issa but at past hearings, government officials have testified alongside other non-administration witnesses,” said Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the committee.

While he has apologized, Gruber’s remarks have become their own flashpoint in debates over ObamaCare. Republicans say the comments confirm their view that the law was not passed in an open process.

Democrats have sought to distance themselves from Gruber. The Esquea letter is the clearest example related to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, who will serve as a witness at the same hearing.

Having the two seated together — with all the resulting photos — would be a public relations nightmare for the administration.

Which it should be, and the GOP would be crazy not to make it happen.

JAMES ANTLE: Wounded Donkey: The Democratic Party’s Obamacare Disaster. “Both Harkin and Schumer are liberals lamenting what will likely be the Obama administration’s main domestic-policy legacy. They are both now saying the Democrats blew it.”

ROB LONGLEY: Republicans Use Constitutional Experts — and President’s Own Words — in Debate Over Immigration Decree.

“President Obama has stated over 20 times in the past that he doesn’t have the constitutional power to take such steps on his own — and has repeatedly stated that, ‘I’m not a king,’” Goodlatte said in his opening statement.

He then played a video showing a series of clips in which Obama insists he can’t unilaterally change or make immigration law.

He said the president’s 180-degree turn on the issue has lit the fuse of a “full-fledged” constitutional crisis.

“The Constitution is clear,” Goodlatte said. “It is Congress’ duty to write our nation’s laws and, once they are enacted, it is the president’s responsibility to enforce them.”

Indeed.

CHUCK TODD ON OBAMACARE: “This Bill Is A Mess.” Kinda makes you wish people had read it before they passed it, huh?

CHANGE: Mark Levin urges states to ‘take back your power’ from ‘runaway’ Obama.

The building national movement for a constitutional convention of states to block President Obama’s executive orders got a huge boost Thursday when leading advocate Mark Levin urged state lawmakers to throttle all of Washington, including Republicans.

“Take your power back,” he demanded of the hundreds of lawmakers attending the American Legislative Exchange Council convention on Capitol Hill. “You are the last line of defense of liberty.”

Levin got star billing because a focus of the winter meeting of the limited government group is pushing for a convention of states, a project of the Citizens for Self-Governance, who sponsored the top talk show host who recently wrote a book laying out constitutional amendments the nation should consider. The process is offered in Article V of the Constitution.

He described a nation that is morphing into a “post-constitutional” crisis where state legislatures are “irrelevant,” and the president and Congress do whatever they want, and nobody in Washington provides checks and balances.

“We have a president of the United States who says, ‘Hey, Congress won’t act. I will.’ Excuse me? Well what’s that? Sounds like a runaway convention to me,” he said.

Ditto for Republicans. “Throw out the establishment Republicans and others who are stopping you from doing what you need to do,” Levin urged.

To applause, he pushed legislators to consider a convention of 2,000-3,000 delegates to review procedures for hosting a constitutional convention as a warning shot to Congress and the White House. “That alone would shake up this city,” he said.

The Tennessee Law Review published a special symposium issue on constitutional conventions a few years ago. I wrote the Foreword, Sandy Levinson wrote the Afterword, and an all-star cast including Randy Barnett, Brannon Denning, Richard Epstein, Tim Lynch, Rob Natelson, and too many other luminaries to mention contributed the stuff in between. Here’s my contribution, which focuses specifically on spending. And here’s video of me talking about it at the Harvard Law School conference on constitutional conventions.

ROLL CALL: Obama’s Push for Political Ambassadors Reaching Lame-Duck Limit.

President Barack Obama won the latest round Tuesday, when senators voted almost straight down party lines to confirm two new diplomats whose most obvious calling cards were raising a combined $4 million to elect and re-elect the president. That would be Colleen Bell, a Hollywood soap opera producer who will now spend the next two years running the U.S. embassy in Budapest; and Noah Mamet, a public relations consultant who got his start as a fundraiser for House Democrats two decades ago and is off to take the corner office in Buenos Aires.

Starting next year, the advantage in the argument will go to the Republicans, because once they take over the Senate they’ll have total power to ignore into oblivion any diplomatic choice they view as unqualified.

The mystery is what happens in the next week. Beyond the big-ticket legislative items, Majority Leader Harry Reid is confronting a mountain of routine bills and nominations, knowing he can’t possibly get it all done even if he stretches the lame duck beyond Dec. 12. He’s not tipping his hand on how hard he’ll push for action on would-be ambassadors — although in the short time available the Nevada Democrat will have more success with the 13 career diplomats waiting in the wings than with the dozen political appointees.

By recent historic standards, Obama is starting to test the ceiling for putting friends and campaign supporters in U.S. diplomatic posts. Altogether, 35 percent of Obama’s assignments so far have gone to political people. But in his second term, the number has grown to 41 percent according to research by the American Foreign Service Association, the union representing career diplomats that would like more strict enforcement of a 1980 law that says campaign donations may not be considered a qualification for any foreign posting.

Well, I’d say that law is constraining Obama about as much as, well, all the others.

THE HILL: Obama signals he’ll put muscle behind response to police killings.

During a Thursday speech, Obama said he intends to “take more steps” with leaders like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio “in the months ahead to make sure that all Americans have confidence that police and law enforcement are serving everybody equally.”

“When it comes, as we’ve seen, unfortunately, in recent days, to our criminal justice system, too many Americans feel deep unfairness when it comes to the gap between our professed ideals and how laws are applied on a day-to-day basis,” Obama said.

He acknowledged addressing the issue was a big challenge, but said it should galvanize the country and bring Americans together.

The New York grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer in the death of Garner, who was placed in a chokehold and said “I can’t breathe” as he was pulled to the ground, hit Washington like a sledgehammer.

The decision came just two weeks after a separate grand jury did not indict a white police officer in the death of Michael Brown, a black teenager.

Both decisions have provoked protests around the country, elevating the issue of criminal justice and police behavior.

But it remains unclear how long Obama and the White House will be focused on the issue given a breadth of other challenges facing the administration.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Dems really make a clean break with the police unions. Related: Police union leader says de Blasio threw officers ‘under the bus.’

WAIT, HOLDER AND OBAMA ARE BLOWING SMOKE? INCROYABLE! Holder NYC Civil Rights Investigation Is Not News. “Mainstream media will, naturally, treat the announcement as major news. In fact, a federal review is opened in every single case where police officer action results in a death. As I said on Lou Dobbs, it’s like holding a press conference to announce that the lights were turned on that morning at the DOJ.”

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: Dear Media: This Elizabeth Lauten Nonsense Is Why Everybody Hates You. “So we know that the national media is deeply concerned about stray insults directed toward the Obama family from Congressional staffers. Is raping people worse than that? Or not? I’m confused. Because a few years ago Congressional staffer Donny Ray Williams, Jr., was indicted for a series of alleged sexual assaults and it got only one ‘local crime’ story in the Washington Post. Yesterday he pled guilty and that also generated one story in the Washington Post. If there’s network coverage of this congressional staffer raping people, I’m not seeing it. Did I mention he was a staff director for Democrats on a Senate panel?”

BRYAN PRESTON: The Role that Obama’s Runaway Bureaucracy Played in the Death of Eric Garner.

Related: Eric Garner and Omnipresent Police Power: The Eric Garner case is a reminder that government is force, and more government equals more force. “What did the facts show in the Staten Island case? They don’t show deliberate murder. The video of the police arrest of Eric Garner shows no evidence of malice or specific intent to harm Garner. Rather, it shows a callousness toward his obvious physical distress when the confrontation goes wrong. The killing is less malicious than officious.”

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: Feds balk at releasing docs showing IRS sharing tax returns with White House.

Less than a week after ’fessing up that it found some 2,500 documents potentially showing that the IRS shared taxpayer returns with the White House, the Obama administration has reversed course and won’t release the trove to a group suing for access.

In an abrupt decision, the Treasury inspector general’s office said that the documents are covered by privacy and disclosure laws and can’t be provided to Cause of Action, despite a promise last week to hand over some 2,500.

Yeah, the only time they seem to care about privacy is when they can use it as a brick in their stonewall.

ROLL CALL: Less than 2 Weeks to Shutdown, Conservatives Cool to ‘Cromnibus.’

As House Republicans sort out how they will fund the government past Dec. 11, leadership is running into a problem: Many conservatives looking to block President Barack Obama’s immigration plan contend the House must act now rather than wait until later.

That’s a more confrontational approach than the “cromnibus” proposal floated by GOP leaders Tuesday morning. The cromnibus — a portmanteau of continuing resolution and omnibus — would incorporate 11 of the 12 appropriations bills in the House, funding operations through the end of the fiscal year in September, and couple that package with a temporary CR for Homeland Security operations, likely to extend to March.

Homeland Security houses the agencies where the bulk of the executive action implementation is expected to take place.

GOP leaders argue the cromnibus is the best way to keep the government open while ensuring a fight later on the immigration executive actions — once all of Capitol Hill is under Republican control.

They also point to a “sweetener” of sorts, a chance to vote as early as Thursday on legislation that’s been introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., to “disapprove” of Obama’s immigration actions.

But it might not be enough for many of the president’s staunchest opponents in Congress.

At Tuesday’s monthly “Conversations with Conservatives” get-together, Republicans said the idea of asking members to vote for any spending bill that funds the president’s executive order — even on a short-term basis — is tough to swallow.

I can imagine.

SORRY, YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE, MR. SHOVEL-READY: Obama: US infrastructure ‘embarrassing.’

Anyway, who wants jobs for burly men? Not this administration, apparently.

IT’S INTERESTING THAT THE DEMOCRATS AND THE GOP ARE SO EAGER TO CUT AN IMMIGRATION DEAL, GIVEN THAT THE PUBLIC ISN’T:

A new Economist/YouGov poll said that the public opposes the president’s order, 45 percent to 38 percent supporting it. In fact, only a majority of Democrats support the president’s action.

“The president’s plan for executive action on immigration clearly does not sit well with many Americans. Democrats support the president’s decision to use an executive order to delay deportation proceedings for parents of U.S. citizens, but 51 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans oppose it,” said the poll analysis.

What’s more, support for illegals and the president’s action has dropped since he unveiled his order to allow some illegals to stay temporarily and apply for a work permit if they have children who are U.S. citizens.

In February, for example, 55 percent supported providing a path to citizenship. That has dropped to 47 percent.

More telling is the nation’s attitude toward undocumented immigrants when it comes to jobs, school and crime.

Quite odd that the establishment — especially the GOP establishment — seems so uninterested in these sentiments, which you’d think would have considerable electoral salience.

BE VERY AFRAID: It’s President HAL, the Democratic Party candidate built from 100 brains.

Hey, we’ve already got President Robama.

YES. NEXT QUESTION? Is Obamacare Destroying the Democratic Party? “The ability of the Democratic Party to convince middle-class voters that it is on their side is by no means guaranteed.”

DOING THE JOB AMERICAN JOURNALISTS WON’T DO: Judicial Watch: Documents: Obama Administration Paid Baptist Family Services Over $182 Million to House Illegal Aliens.

ROLL CALL: Liberal Groups Want Longer Lame Duck to Confirm Nominees. “A coalition of largely liberal organizations has written a letter asking the Senate to extend the lame duck to allow as many of President Barack Obama’s nominees to win confirmation before Republicans take control of the chamber. The 33 signatories of the new letter include the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the Communications Workers of America, the NAACP, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen.”

BYRON YORK: Obama’s Dangerous Legacy For The Democrats. “The Obama damage is two-fold. First, his success relied on a coalition that likely will not survive, or at least survive at full strength, without Obama himself on the ticket. Secondly, Obama drove a significant portion of white voters away from the Democratic Party. Put those two things together — smaller Obama coalition and more alienated whites — and the result could be huge trouble for whoever the Democratic presidential nominee is in 2016.”

THE PRESS HAS GONE CRAZY OVER A GOP AIDE WHO CHIDED THE OBAMA DAUGHTERS, BUT I’LL BET THEY PAY A LOT LESS ATTENTION TO THIS: Former Democratic congressional aide pleads guilty to sexual assault.

Donny Ray Williams Jr., 37, who served as a staff director for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse, two misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor threats.

Prosecutors say that on July 22, 2010, Williams invited a female congressional colleague to his Capitol Hill apartment and promised to introduce her to Senate employees. At the house, prosecutors said, Williams spiked a drink with Ambien. The woman, according to court documents, fell into a “deep sleep,” at which point Williams raped her.

A month later, prosecutors said, Williams invited another woman to his home and gave her alcoholic beverages. They said he had sexual contact with her when she was too intoxicated to give her consent.

Williams had been indicted on 10 counts, but prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said they would seek a suspended prison term and five years of supervised probation. Williams also would have to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Will the Washington Post send someone to look into his college records?

MARC THIESSEN: How To Push Back On Obama’s Executive Amnesty.

THAT’S GOOD: Obama to provide funding for 50,000 police body cameras. Though, sadly, as someone on Twitter said, the first thing that occurs is that an Obama donor is in the body-camera business.

MORE ON THE WAR BETWEEN THE DEMOCRATS’ GENTRY-LIBERAL AND URBAN-BLACK FACTIONS: Obama Shafts Hillary With Amnesty and Ferguson.

Obama can remain a player with a 35% constituency, but Hillary needs 50% + 1 to win. The Obama coalition/Democrat base has the Chablis-swilling limo libs from Marin County, the AFSCME-dues paying DMV diversity consultants, and the big screen-watching EBT cardholder vote nailed down. Everyone else, not so much anymore. And Obama is clearly fine with that.

Hillary was supposed to do what Bill did and bring back those blue collar Dems – the people who make things with their hands, the people who didn’t go to Wellesley, and the government employees like Officer Darren Wilson who actual perform a useful service. But Obama doesn’t need or even want them, and he’s happily driving them away to strengthen his own coalition. He’s refused to stand up against the race hustlers and rioters. And he’s hung the executive amnesty around Hillary’s neck, ensuring that she’ll spend the next two years promising not to undo it – in contrast the GOP nominee who will be talking about little else.

Hillary faces two problems that have potentially mutually exclusive solutions. One is keeping the Obama coalition behind her, and it’s already making noises about fleeing to Big Chief Warren. The other is expanding the coalition to once again include normal people. An executive amnesty she could undo with a pen stroke is not going to be any help with that. Nor are media images of businesses burning because some hardworking cop refused to allow himself to be murdered to please the likes of Al Sharpton.

With another Democrat in the White House, Obama’s a has-been. With a Republican and an angry 35% constituency, he’ll matter — basically, Al Sharpton writ large.

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO IGNORE: Also no coverage at the New York Times of the arrest of Obama bundler Terry Bean for child rape. It’s like they have an agenda to distort the news for partisan reasons or something.

ROGER SIMON: 2016. “Obama was the last gasp of a dying ideology. All they have left is some pathetic and teetering identity politics.”

JOHN FUND ON THE NEW CBO HEAD: The Voters Spoke: Now Listen. “Right now, there is a fierce behind-the-scenes battle over who will head the Congressional Budget Office, an influential agency of 200 analysts that provides estimates on the cost and societal impact of legislation. . . . Since January 2009, the CBO has been headed by Doug Elmendorf, who served on President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and in Clinton’s Treasury Department. He was appointed by Democrats at a time when they controlled both houses of Congress and is generally well respected by his fellow academic economists.”

CBO did a terrible job with ObamaCare. Someone should pay a price for that.

REMINDER: In 2009, Barack Obama “Joked” About Auditing His Enemies.

POLITICO SAYS THAT GOP CANDIDATES DON’T GET IT when trying to get tech money.

Actually, I’d say that if they’re trying to get tech money, they really don’t get it. First, these companies are Dem allies and that isn’t likely to change. Second, there are more votes to be had running a populist campaign against the New Oligarchs of Silicon Valley than any donations could possibly buy. A winning GOP campaign would attack the plutocratic oligarchs of the super-rich and the welfare-chiselers of the non-working poor, on behalf of the 75% of the country in between.

Related: “The typical American family makes less than the typical family did 15 years ago, a statement that hadn’t previously been true since the Great Depression.”

Also: Middle Class Americans Hardest Hit By ObamaCare: “The hardest-hit: the middle-class. Americans with an annual household income of between $30,000 and $75,000 began delaying medical care over costs more in 2014, up to 38 percent in 2014 from 33 percent last year; among households that earn above $75,000, 28 percent delayed care this year, compared to just 17 percent last year. The lowest-income section, some of whom can take part in Medicaid and who are more likely to qualify for significant premium and cost-sharing subsidies on an Obamacare exchange, are less likely to delay care this year.”

There’s your electoral gold. Don’t be distracted by the fool’s gold of tech money.