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THE BIG STUPID Stirewalt: The scariest statistic you'll see all day

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On the roster: The scariest stat you’ll see all day Trump tries outreach to Dems on DREAMers – Dems set demands on taxes – Flynn pushed plan that profited his client – ‘You’re my boy, Blue’

THE SCARIEST STAT YOU’LL SEE ALL DAY
When you consider the fact that a third of American adults cannot name a single branch of their federal government, you cease to wonder why things are so bad and begin to wonder why they are not already worse. 

In a poll conducted for the Annenberg Public Policy Center ahead of this weekend’s celebration of the 229th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution, only 26 percent of respondents could identify the executive, legislative and judicial branches, while 40 percent could name only one or two. 

Americans talk openly and often about the dumbing down of our culture, what we refer to as “The Big Stupid.” It is a lament, but also something of a brag for people not clutched by ignorance of this magnitude.

But it’s easy to be an intellectual elite in a nation where not even half of the people know what kind of government they have. Possessing the knowledge we should expect of a sixth grader is nothing to boast about. This should be cause for deepening alarm, not selfish pride.

Knowledgeable people look on in horror as mobs denounce our Founders, attacking even the author of the American Creed. Reasonable people despair to hear the growing frequency with which bigotry mingles with patriotism. 

But if these bad actors do not even understand what the American system is, can we be so surprised that they do not cherish its most basic tenets?

One of the conceits about the lunkheaded, tribal politics of the current era is that Americans are rightfully aggrieved by the failures of their government. In this sympathetic view of the electorate, voters are desperate for change and willing to accept increasingly radical options in hope of fixing Washington. 

Let us suggest a more frightening possibility: Not enough Americans know what their government is for to make sensible demands of it. 

We will not waste time today discussing the causes of the current crisis, which surely trace back to a rejection of civics education and an overall slide toward enthusiastic ignorance in the larger culture.

But make no mistake, a crisis it is. 

It is telling that the folks who commissioned the poll didn’t even give this appalling fact top billing, instead focusing on a specious question about whether illegal immigrants have rights under the Constitution. The appeal of partisan clickbait is so great that even institutions supposedly devoted to preserving civic knowledge cannot resist. 

If we care to avert the crisis, we must also foreswear the delight of easy clicks and cheap shots.

It becomes increasingly clear that the central struggle for all people who love America and believe in its creed is to be instructional in nature. And if you care about the voices and rights of ordinary people, first they must be equipped to operate the magnificent machinery of a constitutional republic.  

THE RULEBOOK: GOING THE DISTANCE
“As the natural limit of a democracy is that distance from the central point which will just permit the most remote citizens to assemble as often as their public functions demand, and will include no greater number than can join in those functions; so the natural limit of a republic is that distance from the centre which will barely allow the representatives to meet as often as may be necessary for the administration of public affairs.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 14

TIME OUT: NERVY
NatGeo: “Scientists have long known that the brain retains the sense of an amputated or paralyzed limb. ‘The brain continues to have the capacity to do what it always did,’ says bioengineer Robert Gaunt. ‘Even after injury.’ … Gaunt and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center aim to go even further. They’re experimenting with ways to make a robotic limb … feel like a part of the body and not just a tool. Nathan Copeland, mostly paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident in his teens, participated in the experiment. The team implanted tiny sensors in his brain… The robotic arm is then wired to send and receive signals from those sensors. Now 31, Copeland can identify … which of his arm’s prosthetic fingers are being pressed … he’s also felt warmth and tingling sensations in the robot fingers, making him ‘happy, relieved, and hopeful.’”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with
your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -19.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 2 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

TRUMP TRIES OUTREACH TO DEMS ON DREAMERS 
USA Today: “President Trump has invited a bipartisan group of moderate House members to the White House on Wednesday to discuss a host of issues, including tax reform, infrastructure and health care, according to a congressional source familiar with the meeting. The meeting may also include a discussion of the path forward for ‘DREAMers,’ undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, the source said, asking for anonymity to discuss a meeting that had not been publicly announced. Trump last week canceled former president Obama’s policy of protecting DREAMers from deportation and set a six-month deadline for Congress to pass legislation to preserve their legal status. As of Tuesday morning, four Republican and eight Democratic House members were confirmed for the meeting, including members of the bipartisan ‘Problem Solvers’ caucus and the centrist Democrat Blue Dog Coalition, according to another congressional source familiar with the meeting.”

White House says Trump has always backed amnesty for DREAMers – Daily Caller: “Trump presented a hard-line immigration policy on the campaign trail and said during an August 2016 campaign speech that ‘there will be no amnesty.’ ‘Our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status, or become a citizen of the United States, by illegally entering our country,’ he stated during the speech.  However, last week President Trump announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program will be rescinded in six months and that Congress has until then to ‘legalize DACA,’ which protects roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants from deportation. When asked during Tuesday’s White House press briefing about Trump’s support of amnesty, [Sarah Sanders] replied, ‘I think the president has spoken out very clearly that he wants us to make this decision based on a variety of factors. But the number one thing is that he wants responsible immigration reform and part of that is including that in the process.’”

House leaders to meet today on DREAMers legislation – WaPo: “Top House leaders plan to huddle Wednesday to begin discussing legislation that would provide protections to nearly 700,000 ‘dreamers’ at risk of losing their legal status in six months if Congress fails to act. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plan to meet with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and the leaders of the congressional Asian, Black and Hispanic caucuses to discuss potential debate of the Dream Act, a bill that would grant legal protections to the roughly 690,000 people currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era executive action that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.”

White House may clamp down on refugees – NYT: “The Trump administration is considering reducing the number of refugees admitted to the country over the next year to below 50,000, according to current and former government officials familiar with the discussions, the lowest number since at least 1980. … But in recent weeks, as the deadline approached for Mr. Trump to issue the annual determination for refugee admissions required by the Refugee Act of 1980, some inside the White House — led by Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser for policy — have pressed to set the ceiling even lower. The issue has created an intense debate within the administration, with Mr. Miller and some officials at the Department of Homeland Security citing security concerns and limited resources as grounds…”

DEMS SET DEMANDS ON TAXES
NYT: “Senate Democrats on Tuesday warned they would work to block any rewrite of the tax code that repealed the estate tax and the deduction for state and local taxes, arguing that those moves would make a mockery of Republican promises to target tax relief to the middle class. … The red lines from Democrats are becoming increasingly stark. Mr. [Chuck Schumer] also said that a repeal of the deduction for state and local taxes and any changes to the mortgage interest deduction would also be non-starters with Democrats. Still feeling the sting from its failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act without the help of Democrats, the White House is trying to keep hope of bipartisanship alive.” 

Sanders’ health care bill exposes Dem tension – Fox News: “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday will officially unveil his single-payer health care bill, exposing tensions in the Democratic Party as 2020 presidential hopefuls rally behind the plan yet congressional leaders hold back support. The ‘Medicare for All’ plan from Sanders, a Vermont independent and sage of the American political left, is backed by 15 co-sponsors. The list, unveiled Wednesday morning, includes several Democratic senators thought to be eyeing a 2020 White House bid — Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts; Kamala Harris, of California; Cory Booker, of New Jersey; and Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York. … Sanders is calling for a federally run program that would provide Americans with no-cost, comprehensive health insurance — covering everything from preventive care to prescription medications to eye examinations.”

FLYNN PUSHED PLAN THAT PROFITED HIS CLIENT 
Politico: “As a top official in President Donald Trump’s transition team, former Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn actively promoted a private-sector scheme to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the Middle East known informally in the transition as the ‘Marshall Plan.’ But he did not publicly disclose that backers of the plan had paid him at least $ 25,000. Flynn communicated during the transition with the backers of the for-profit plan, billed as a way of strengthening ties between the U.S. and Arab allies looking to develop nuclear power capability. Meanwhile, the Trump adviser expressed his support for the plan with people inside the transition — and discussed its merits with others beyond Trump Tower, according to sources within and close to the Trump team at that time.”

White House urges criminal charges for Comey – Fox News: “The Department of Justice should consider prosecuting James Comey for his ‘improper’ actions while serving as FBI director, the White House said Tuesday. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, argued during the daily press briefing that Comey’s actions as FBI director ‘were improper and likely could have been illegal.’ Asked if President Trump wants the Department of Justice to prosecute Comey, Sanders said that’s ‘something they should certainly look at.’ Sanders said the former FBI director ‘politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses.’ That’s in reference to new allegations Comey drafted an ‘exoneration statement’ for Clinton weeks before interviewing her during the investigation into her email server.”

Rutenberg goes inside the Kremlin’s propaganda war on the U.S. – 
NYT Magazine: “Officials in Germany and at NATO headquarters in Brussels view the Lisa case, as it is now known, as an early strike in a new information war Russia is waging against the West. In the months that followed, politicians perceived by the Russian government as hostile to its interests would find themselves caught up in media storms that, in their broad contours, resembled the one that gathered around [German Chancellor Angela Merkel]. They often involved conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods — sometimes with a tenuous connection to fact, as in the Lisa case, sometimes with no connection at all — amplified until they broke through into domestic politics. In other cases, they simply helped promote nationalist, far-left or far-right views that put pressure on the political center. What the efforts had in common was their agents: a loose network of Russian-government-run or -financed media outlets and apparently coordinated social-media accounts.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Sens. Hatch, Wyden announce agreement on Children’s Health Insurance Program funds 
– NYT

Census Bureau says U.S. middle-class incomes hit new high in 2016 – WaPo

Poll: Republicans, Democrats take sharply different views on the value of different professions – Pew Research Center

AUDIBLE: TMI
“When the Quest [protein] bars got cold, they were too hard to eat, so we sat on them for a few minutes to warm them up, with as much dignity as one can muster at such a moment.” – Hillary Clinton describing her campaign eating habits in her new book. 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Your ‘DEMS BUNCH ON THE LEFT’ section’s analysis was well-stated and thought-provoking. From what you’re saying, and let me know if I am wrong, it seems the Democrat’s platform/basic identity follows a cyclic pattern where it ends up opposite the ideology so ubiquitous in their base early on in the election cycle. We’ve got Barack Obama more left than his primary field, Clinton a blue dog in his genuinely liberal party, and even Hillary Clinton taking a, now I say comparatively, more centrist approach (albeit still proclaiming herself a progressive) than her competitors (other than Jim Webb). How will this play out in 2020? Who knows. Additionally, will we ever see the Republican Party elect presidents of varying ideology in a similar manner? I really don’t proclaim Trump a true Republican, but the similarities between Bush 43 and Mitt Romney weren’t all too obvious to a normy like myself. Thanks for the report.” – Jack WhitemanSt. Louis

[Ed. note: That is why they play the game, Mr. Whiteman! We like to think that electoral politics is predictable on the basis of demographics. And to a very substantial degree, it is. But the limit relates to personnel. What I will be watching for among the Democrats (and, probably, the Republicans) for 2020 is which candidates have the natural knack and, more importantly, improve with experience. Much like the Cardinals and their September surge, it matters more who gets good at the right time than who looks the best on paper when you leave spring training.]

“Chris: This quote [“Hit ‘em where they ain’t”] was first attributed to Wee Willie Keeler, Hall of Famer from the very early 20th century. Pee Wee Reese may also have said this, but about 50 years later than Keeler.” – John Gabbert, Arlington Heights, Ill.

[Ed. note: I think you may have caught us in an error, skipper! The aphorisms and colloquialisms of baseball certainly merit a book, one that I would surely read. I am reminded of the scene in “Bull Durham,” in which Crash Davis describes the difference between hitting .250 and hitting .300 in which he uses different names for a single – “Flare,” “gorp,” “groundball with eyes” and “dying quail.”]

Share your color commentary: Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

‘YOU’RE MY BOY, BLUE!’
KABC: “An elderly grandfather threw a man off his roof, ending an hours-long standoff in which the agitated suspect jumped from home to home in a La Puente [Calif.] neighborhood on Tuesday. The suspect was on top of homes in the 14000 block of Beckner Street for hours, refusing commands from deputies and crisis negotiators asking him to come down. Capt. Tim Murakami of the Industry sheriff’s station said the standoff ended when 83-year-old homeowner Wilford Burgess ‘got tired of his games and pushed him off.’ … Burgess said he took his neighbor’s ladder and told deputies he was climbing onto the roof. … After the big push, the suspect was taken into custody and was admitted to a hospital for a mental evaluation, sheriff’s officials said. As for Burgess, he said staying in shape is important to him in his 80s. … He added that his favorite workout is lifting the donations that people give to his church.”

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

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

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