tipsheet
Kevin Glass -  Measure Executive Orders By Content, Not Number
Posted: 11/28/2014 1:44:00 PM EST
President Obama's liberal use of his executive authority has been defended by progressives as being firmly in line - and even less so - than the executive powers claimed by previous presidents. They'll point to the number of executive orders that President Obama has issued as evidence that his use of this authority is not abnormal.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Dhrumil Mehta argues that President Obama has been more restrained in his use of executive orders than every President since Grover Cleveland:

We looked at data from the American Presidency Project and found that the use of executive orders peaked in the era of the New Deal (FDR set the record) and has been on the decline since. In the past 100 years, Democrats have used them more than Republicans. Here’s every president’s tally per year that he served in office.

Mehta shows that executive orders peaked with Franklin Roosevelt but have fallen since then, and that Barack Obama has actually issued the fewest executive orders per year in more than 100 years.

This kind of analysis is incomplete. The number of executive orders is not the sole lens through which we should view this kind of executive authority. It should be the way in which a President exercises it.

At the Mercatus Center, Patrick McLaughlin has come up with a better way:

While other analysts have examined the number of executive orders issued by different administrations, we have used RegData, a database producing statistics based on the Code of Federal Regulations, to examine some of the content of these executive orders and proclamations for the past six presidencies, through the end of Obama’s first term. In particular, we examine the usage of restrictions—words that create binding, legal obligations, such as “shall” and “must.” Although the current administration has issued fewer executive orders than other modern administrations, the figures below show that its total usage of restrictions in executive orders and proclamations exceeds that of any of the past six administrations, with the exception of Clinton’s first term.

Take a look:

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President Clinton is still the reigning modern champion of executive orders, but President Obama is right there with him. It's possible that President Obama also catches up to Clinton - his attitude about dealing with the incoming Republican congress might get his executive order pen itching to issue a few.

Conn Carroll - 5 Ways To Improve Meet The Press
Posted: 11/28/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

"If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press." 

For a generation of political junkies no truer words were ever spoken. Growing up in Oakland, California, I would even choose Tim Russert over the morning NFL games (both started at 10 a.m. PST). 

But now, Meet just isn't appointment viewing anymore. What can be done to turn the show around?

1. Less is more
In its current form Meet the Press is a mile wide and an inch deep. Take the November 23rd show which tried to cover immigration, Benghazi, Afghanistan, Ferguson, Keystone, and Bill Cosby. To cover all these subjects, Meet used three NBC reporters (host Chuck Todd, John Yang, and Ron Allen), and had 11 guests. Even with an hour of show to fill, that does not leave a lot of time for each issue to get properly covered or for each guest to make their mark.

2. Drop the packages
Meet the Press is not 60 Minutes and shouldn't try to be. Sunday talk show viewers are tuning in to see newsmakers make news, not watch long investigated pieces on a myriad of topics. That is what 60 Minutes or Dateline is for.

3. Bring back the journalist panels
Years ago Meet the Press consisted of a panel of journalists who would question a single guest for the full (then half hour) show. Why not get back to that? Or at least have a panel questioning two guests separately? The more time newsmakers are given to talk, the more chance there is that they will make news.

4. Let partisans be partisans
One change that could improve the old panel model would be let the new panelists be overtly partisan. Instead of a panel of three supposedly neutral reporters, why not let Chuck Todd moderate a panel consisting of himself, a liberal journalist (like Jose Diaz-Balart or Rachel Maddow), and a conservative journalist (like National Review's Kevin Williamson or The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney)?

This might make it easier for Meet the Press to book more conservative guests, many of whom currently do not believe Todd will gave them a fair shake. At least with this set up conservatives will know they'll get a chance to get their message out.

5. Better guests
The panel discussions on the week's events do still have a place. But no more "Republican strategists" or Democratic political consultants. No more former-governors or former-House Majority Leaders who just got bounced from office because they are deaf to the populist movements in their party. And this might be ageist but the guests need to be younger too. Meet the Press is in desperate need of some fresh faces.

Surprisingly, NBC News President Deborah Turness seems to already be on board with many of these ideas. She recently told The New York Times, “The show needs more edge. It needs to be consequential. I think the show had become a talking shop that raked over the cold embers of what had gone on the previous week. The one-on-one conversation belongs to a decade ago.”

I couldn't agree more.

Matt Vespa - Incredible: Girl Doesn't Let MS Keep Her From Becoming A Phenomenal Distance Runner
Posted: 11/28/2014 11:00:00 AM EST

Earlier this month, ESPN’s E: 60 series brought you the inspirational story of Kayla Montgomery, a North Carolina teenager living with multiple sclerosis; an incurable disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own nerve cells.

She grew up loving the game of soccer, but was forced to stop upon her diagnosis. She lost feeling in her legs for eight months, but with the help of medication; she was able to recover.  After that, she decided to take up running.

Knowing the window of opportunity for running could be short, Kayla wanted to make the most of it, which is precisely what she told her coach, Patrick Cromwell, who admitted she was very average in the beginning; “varsity hopeful by her senior year” is how he put it.

But, with Kayla’s hard work and Cromwell’s coaching abilities (he pushed her hard), she has become one of the best distance runners in the country for her age group. But it comes with a cost.

Heat triggers multiple sclerosis attacks. She admits feeling a tingling, numbing sensation in her feet, which then travels up her legs.  

Kayla admitted that in the beginning, it was difficult to pace herself because she felt no pain and couldn’t tell how fast she was going. She has since adapted.

Yet, by the time her race is over, she no longer feels anything from the waist down and collapses, but Coach Cromwell is there to catch her. 

When her body temperature returns to normal, she regains full use of her legs–and the attacks cause no permanent damage.

It's a long video for a post, but surely worth watching.

Katie Pavlich - Former President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Caught on Kiss Cam
Posted: 11/28/2014 10:00:00 AM EST

Here's a palate cleanser for your Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

During a Houston Texans game last week former President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush were caught on the kiss cam.

And now to one of my favorite kiss cam moments:

Daniel Doherty - Poll: Nearly One-Third of NH Republicans Would Support Romney in '16
Posted: 11/28/2014 9:00:00 AM EST

Electorally, New Hampshire is as unpredictable a state as they come. During this past year’s midterm elections, for example, New Hampshire was one of the only states in the nation where a Senate Democrat running for re-election survived. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hung on by roughly three percentage points, a decisive victory in what was otherwise a terrible election year for her Senate colleagues. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) all lost their respective races.

All of which is to say that New Hampshire has history of bucking national trends and electing and re-electing candidates unexpectedly. It’s also the first-in-the-nation primary state. Thus, it’s somewhat interesting to learn that roughly one-third of GOP primary voters in the state have a candidate in mind who they’d support in 2016. According to a freshly-released poll, presidential also-ran Mitt Romney garnered 30 percent of the vote, followed rather distantly by Sen. Rand Paul (11) and Gov. Chris Christie (9).

National Journal has the scoop:

New Hampshire's all-important stamp of approval is Mitt Romney's to lose—if he runs, that is. The former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential contender leads his potential rivals by a double-digit margin in the early-primary state, with 30 percent of voters expressing their support, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm poll released Monday. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the runner-up in the hypothetical contest, garnered just 11 percent support.

Leading up to the midterm elections, Romney fashioned himself as a sort of thought leader for the GOP, a seasoned luminary who rises above the political fray. Although he has stuck to the line that he's not running, albeit in varying language, his popular support continues to grow.

The poll suggests, however, that if he did run, he’s in good shape to win the New Hampshire Republican primary once again. Never say never.

UPDATE: Also, don't forget about this.

Sarah Jean Seman - Gun Sales Expected to Skyrocket on Black Friday, FBI Worried
Posted: 11/27/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

From Cabela’s to Wal-Mart guns will be on sale a everywhere on Black Friday, and what better time is there to load up on a firearm? The manic shopping frenzy lands right before Christmas and right in the midst of deer hunting season.

With the expected increase in gun sales the Federal Bureau of Investigation is gearing up for a dense wave of background check requests. There are more than 48,000 gun retailers in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. For every sale, cashiers must call in a check to the FBI or to other approved agency to insure that the customer does not have a criminal record. When the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, was implemented in 1998, the FBI oversaw around 9 million checks. Last year that number inflated to more than 21 million.

“This Friday opens the busiest season for gun purchases, when requests for background checks speed up to nearly two a second, testing the limits of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS….

NICS did about 58,000 checks on a typical day last year. That surged to 145,000 on Black Friday 2013. They're bringing in 100 more workers than usual for the post-Thanksgiving rush this year.”

Seventy-one percent of background checks last year were instantly approved. According to Federal Law, a customer is disqualified from purchasing a gun if he/she is: underage, an illegal alien, a documented drug addict, a convicted felon, a fugitive from justice, underage, mentally ill, dishonorably discharged from the military, has renounced their U.S. citizenship, is subject to a court restraining order, or has a history of domestic violence.

Christine Rousselle - Coming Soon to a Mall Near You: Obamacare
Posted: 11/27/2014 2:43:00 PM EST

The holiday shopping season kicks off tomorrow with Black Friday, the annual mad-dash for good deals and early-morning sales. This year, shoppers in a few states will see something new this year at shopping malls--and its not exactly a hot new store. It's...Obamacare.

In an effort to boost floundering enrollment numbers, the Department of Health and Human Services has taken to partnering with retail stores, pharmacies and websites to promote the open enrollment period, which lasts until Feb. 15. Enrollment workers will be present on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday to tell shoppers about how to sign up for a plan on the exchange.

Westfield malls in New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, Florida and Washington will allow navigators and other enrollment workers to both hand out fliers and use other outreach approach methods.

The NCPA will be hosting calls with HHS officials to train pharmacists on how they can spread the word about open enrollment season, as well as using new tactics to share information with its 23,000 members.

[...]

Finally, the XO Group will be using its sites — such as The Knot and The Bump — to advertise to women who are set to experience a life changing events such as marriage or childbirth.

The "target" of expected signups has been ticked downward to about nine million.

I don't know about you, but when I go to the mall I make an effort to avoid the majority of the mall kiosks attempting to push products on me. I'm assuming this will be no different. How desperate is HHS getting to resort to invading shopping malls?

Katie Pavlich - Rebuilding After The Riots: Ferguson Cake Shop Owner Grateful to Fellow Americans For Love and Support
Posted: 11/27/2014 1:30:00 PM EST

Natalie Dubose is a single mother of two living and working in Ferguson, Missouri. Dubose runs her own cake shop in the city called Natalie's Cakes and More, a business she dedicated all of her resources to in order to make a living. Dubose started her cake business by renting out a booth at the local flea market every weekend, selling her product and eventually saved enough money to open up a store, which had it's grand opening in August.

Despite pleading with protestors, her store was severely damaged in riots Monday night, but thanks to the generosity of fellow Americans she'll be back in the kitchen in no time. After learning about the destruction, fellow citizens from around the country donated more than $140,000 to a crowdfunding site dedicated to getting her back on her feet. Hundreds of people have also placed orders for her baked goods.

"It's been amazing. I've been crying but these are tears of joy. I'm just so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from people across the country and I thank them," Dubose said during an interview on Fox News Wednesday. "This [the shop] is my baby." 

"I am so thankful and I'm so grateful. If I could have arms big enough I would just hug each and every last one of them but I just want to thank everyone that has contributed to helping me rebuild my shop to helping me live my dream and to helping for me to continue to be the mom that I've been to my children, to continue providing them with the support that they need," she said. 

All the best to Ms. Dubose, what a wonderful example of the American Dream she is and her cake looks really yummy too! Be sure to check out more about her story here.

Katie Pavlich - Hunters Feed The Hungry This Holiday Season
Posted: 11/27/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Every year hunters from around the country feed the hungry by donating nearly three million pounds of meat and 11 million meals to those who are less fortunate. Just one pound of ground venison can feed four people. 

Hunters Feed Those In Need

Interested in donating? Watch the video below about how to get started and learn more about venison donation programs by visiting Nssf.org/Huntersfeed.

Cortney O'Brien - Author Documents 'The Pilgrim Chronicles'
Posted: 11/27/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

You know the pilgrims traveled to the New World on the Mayflower, but did you know about the Steadwell? You know they ate turkey during their first feast, but did you know they also had baked beaver? These are just a couple of the little-known facts author Rod Gragg includes in his book, “The Pilgrim Chronicles,” an eyewitness account of the pilgrims’ journey to America and the first Thanksgiving, as well as what their lives looked like in England before stepping onto that famous boat. Gragg shared some insight with Townhall on the effort that went into compiling this information, as well as his passion for studying the pilgrims. Check out what else he had to say, then buy the book! You might just learn something new on this Thanksgiving about a few of America’s first settlers.

What made you want to write about the pilgrims? Is this something you’ve always been interested in?

“I’ve always found the pilgrims to be a fascinating group of people and I know that their influence on the development of our nation was tremendous. So, they’ve always had an appeal to me. But actually I had written a couple of books in this genre of eyewitness history. You write a narrative and it’s highlighted with the primary source materials, documents, letters, diary entries and so on that make up history to go and find. So I had done a couple of books like that and the publisher came to me and asked if I wanted to do something like that on the pilgrims and that was something I was interested in because I was familiar with it a bit. But my concern was there wasn’t enough primary source material to actually build an eyewitness history of the pilgrim experience. As it turned out, it was far more than I expected and as usual I only thought I knew the pilgrims – I knew far less about them then I thought I did and they really are extraordinary people who have tremendous impact on American history.”

Can you give us a small teaser, maybe share one of the little-known facts that you included in your book?

“The pilgrims traveled to America from the North Atlantic on the Mayflower, but there are actually two pilgrim vessels, two ships. The other one was called the Steadwell and it did not live up to its name. It sprung leaks repeatedly. When the pilgrims left with two ships from England and they went out into the English Channel and then into the open Atlantic, they made two attempts to travel with both ships. But, the Steadwell continued to leak, they brought it back into port and tried to do repairs and it just didn’t work. Finally, they brought it back to Plymouth and decided it was not seaworthy and so they moved everybody that they could onto the Mayflower. Some of them chose not to come. That’s why the Mayflower, which really was a pretty good size ship, was so packed across the Atlantic.”

Can you put into words what kind of faith and courage it took for the pilgrims to leave the Old World and sail toward the unknown?

“Well this book spends about half of its space dealing with the pilgrims in England. That’s the side of the story that most Americans don’t know. It’s really an extraordinary story, very remarkable. The pilgrims were a remarkable people who were extremely courageous and to do what they did took extraordinary heroism. And of course they made a major positive impact on America.”

Another interesting part of the book was when you talk about the first Thanksgiving feast – which didn’t really look like your typical Turkey Day dinner. Could you tell us what was on the pilgrims’ Thanksgiving table?

“Well the pilgrims were not the first to observe Thanksgiving in the New World. The Spanish settlers in New Spain did so, and so did the Jamestown colonists. But, it was from the pilgrims that we get our Thanksgiving tradition. Although, their Thanksgiving feast was probably not what we think it was. In some ways, it was very different from what we expect today. It was a 3-day event. It presumably featured a very joyful worship service, but what is also on record is that it also included recreations. Those were probably the field sports that were so popular to the English people of their day and that would have included wrestling, foot races, jumping contests - these are the kinds of activities that the English people loved at that time. We do know it also included what they describe as either a firearms competition, a shooting match, or some type of firearms demonstration. One of the sources says they exercised their arms and whether they were having a shooting match or whether they were having a firearms demonstration maybe for their invited guests, the Poconos Indians, we don’t know. But those are things we don’t normally associate with the pilgrims’ Thanksgiving. 

As far as what was on the menu, we know that they were on record as saying they served waterfowl, presumably duck or goose and we know that they served wild turkey, which is where we get our tradition, I guess. But they also had venison. The Poconos Indians, their guests brought three deer, which they butchered, and dressed and served. But they also probably had baked beaver. Yes, they were serving the items that they ate later at Plymouth colony and they would have had lobster, baked clams. We know they served fish, cod, bass. And they had Indian corn, they had peas from England, and also probably beans, cabbage, parsnips, onions, biscuits, probably English porridge or oatmeal and probably corn-based pasty pudding.”

Any thought on why it was the turkey that caught on and not the beaver?

“I don’t know why the turkey became the great tradition of Thanksgiving, but probably because it’s a lot easier today to have a turkey dinner then to have goose, duck, certainly baked beaver if they had – or baked venison which we know to have.”

There’s a lot of great imagery in the book. Did you have a say in what graphics were going to be included in the book?

“Yes, as a matter of fact this publisher is very strong on graphics and they designed two of the maps that are there. There’s one map that’s a traditional, historical map from an earlier era. As far as the images, this really is an illustrated book and I really tried to find as many authentic images as I could. Some are from that era but there aren’t many from that time period. Many of them came from the 19th century and the early 20th century and are authentic depictions of various events.

The star of the show, so to speak, of this book, are the eyewitness accounts. They began with an eyewitness account of the people who became the driving force of the pilgrims, the separatists, an account of their standing by the East Coast of England trying to board a ship to Holland to escape persecution and are caught by English soldiers who bear down on them. There’s also I think a very moving account by a young Puritan preacher who’s in the pilgrim tradition, a man named John Henry, who was executed for writing an unpublished theological manuscript. This letter is to his wife and daughters before he was executed, it’s a very touching letter to me. There’s also a behind-the-scenes account of some of the scandalous behavior that occurred at the court of King James I. There’s a description of the separatist worship service that was recorded secretly by a government agent who was sent to infiltrate the people who became the pilgrims and there’s descriptions of the voyage across the Atlantic. There’s a cargo manifest from a similar expedition. It’s probably typical of what the pilgrims carried and then there are period accounts of the pilgrims and when they reached America and New England and what they experienced there. Some of the most interesting eyewitness accounts are those earlier explorers from North America who recorded what they thought they saw and these were accounts the pilgrims probably read as they prepared to make their voyage to the New World. They would read that these folks saw and claimed that in America they would encounter everything from 3-headed snakes to unicorns to giant clams, all kinds of fanciful descriptions that the pilgrims probably wondered what are we going to see when we’re in this wilderness, this new home of ours?”

Some have criticized today’s classrooms for their curriculum as not accurately portraying the pilgrims’ experience and really highlighting their mistreatment of Native Americans. Do you agree that they’re not being taught as they should? What are a few of the worst misconceptions about the pilgrims?

“Well I would say that the history of the relationship between European Americans and later American authorities with the Native American peoples is certainly one of the saddest chapters of American history. But the pilgrims actually set a model of a much better relationship. They really developed a healthy, respectful relationship with the Poconos Indians and with some of the other tribes in the area. They were kind of a model of what those relationships should have been and could have been perhaps with European Americans and later American authorities so it’s really, I think, inaccurate and a lie that the pilgrims would be blamed for some of the terrible relationships that actually did exist later on. I think that, as far as the treatment of the pilgrims today that I hear in some cases, I think that probably reflects the bias of a contemporary American culture toward anything related to faith more than it reflects true accurate history. The pilgrims were a remarkable people who really are deserving of respect. They really probably deserved the tradition that has come down to us about them that is not totally inaccurate. These people came to a New World to try to establish a new home where they would exercise freedom of faith. They tried to establish a respectful relationship with the Native Americans, they were respectful of their environment. They did set up a remarkable legacy for us of how they influenced American culture, law and government based on the two pillars that were the pillars of colonial America and that freedom.”

Black Friday is quickly becoming Black Thursday, meaning families are going shopping as soon as they’re done eating turkey. Do you think our culture is in a sense forgetting the true meaning of Thanksgiving?

“I think Thanksgiving is really a great, really unique American holiday and it’s a time, if you follow that tradition that has come from the pilgrims, a time for us to really stop, step back and take account of the blessings we have in this country and to have an attitude of gratitude that God has blessed us. There is a reason why the national motto of the United States is ‘In God We Trust’ and it goes back to the States exhibited by people like these pilgrims and in other colonies in the very beginning, that you see reflected even in the language of the Declaration of Independence, this foundational Judeo-Christian worldview that American culture, law and government were founded on and this is a good time to think about that and to remember that despite all of our faults that we have all throughout our history, this is an exceptional nation and it has produced exceptional opportunity of freedom for generations of people throughout the world.”