PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Dem Circus Was a Ratings Hit + Bob Newhart lives

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PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Dem Circus Was a Ratings Hit + Bob Newhart lives

Daily Digest

  • Dem Circus Was a Ratings Hit
  • The Power Line Show, Ep. 131: A Full-Tilt Rant-Fest with “Lucretia:”
  • Jimmy Carter, Electoral Oracle
  • Bob Newhart lives
  • The Week in Pictures: Debate Fatigue Edition
Dem Circus Was a Ratings Hit

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 03:44 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)The second night of Democratic presidential debates drew a big audience:

Thursday night’s bruising Democratic primary debate set [a] ratings record for the party, as NBC News’ presentation of the two-hour event averaged 18.1 million viewers. That beat the previous high of 15.8 million viewers set by CNN in October 2015, when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders first sparred in front of a live TV audience.

The week’s second 10-candidate showdown now stands as the 23rd most-watched broadcast of 2019, nestling between Game 5 of the NBA Finals on ABC (18.2 million) and the 105th Rose Bowl on ESPN (16.8 million).

That audience wasn’t as big as the one that saw the first Republican debate two years ago:

While NBCU’s debate deliveries outpaced the news division’s expectations, the Dems didn’t have quite the drawing power of the unprecedentedly odd spectacle that was the August 6, 2015 Republican primary debate. Over the course of that Fox News Channel telecast, which averaged a staggering 24 million viewers….

Then follows a diatribe against President Trump. The source here is Ad Age, a site that caters to advertising and public relations professionals, the vast majority of whom are Democrats.

This is interesting: most of the TV viewers were watching NBC, and “[t]he median age of NBC’s debate audience was 60.4 years.” Who knows, maybe the aging hippies in the audience thought Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders did great.

Mostly, though, I am glad to see a lot of people are watching as the Democrats expose their fatuity. I hope the audience grows as we get closer to the primary season.


The Power Line Show, Ep. 131: A Full-Tilt Rant-Fest with “Lucretia:”

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:24 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)You could be forgiven for thinking this week’s Democratic debates were straight out of an old Monty Python sketch, which prompted Steve to ring up Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, “Lucretia,” for a full-tilt boogie rant-fest about what ought to be the two main “Freeport questions”* that could unravel the Democratic Party between now and election day next year. Are we really going to bring back busing? And how many genders are there? Maybe we can have a new federal commission to answer that question, alongside the proposed federal commission to study reparations.

But wait! There’s more! Steve shares a little bit of inside info on foreign policy from a key Trump insider, and we get in some licks about traffic, large trucks, California’s ongoing follies, raising a “German” German shepherd, and what’s on the grill for July 4.

P.S. Listeners who go all the way to the very end will be treated to a short ghost track that underscores the central theme of this episode.

You know what to do: listen here, or download from our hosts at Ricochet. Subscribe to Power Line in iTunes (and leave a 5-star review, please!).

https://d11k1eidkpp6ab.cloudfront.net/2019/06/Ep-131-62919-11.57-AM.mp3*P.S. Perhaps I ought to explain what the “Freeport question” refers to, for people who have forgotten (or never properly learned) their 19th century U.S. history. This is the question Lincoln posed to Sen. Stephen Douglas in their debate at Freeport, Illinois, in 1958: “Can the people of a Territory in any lawful way, against the wishes of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of a State constitution?”

Douglas answered “Yes,” and thereby split the Democratic Party in half in 1860, thus assuring Lincoln’s election. Southern Democrats were insisting on a federal “slave code” that would allow them to take their slaves into any territory as a matter of fundamental right. When Douglas, the front runner, refused to modify his position, the Democratic Convention in Charleston broke up, and Democrats ended up with two candidates for president that year, like the Republicans in 1912.

Hence, the idea that two “Freeport questions” could shatter Democrats next year, and run as follows: “How many genders are there?”, and “Sen. Harris—do you think we should bring back busing to achieve more racial integration?”


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Jimmy Carter, Electoral Oracle

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 10:17 AM PDT

(John Hinderaker)Jimmy Carter’s latest is at best delusional. It seems almost inconceivable that a former president would say something like this, but we live in a time when all norms have been abandoned by the Democratic Party:

There is no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election.

By buying a tiny handful of Facebook ads that promoted Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, and attacked Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton, and, allegedly, by phishing the DNC’s email system with the result that more people became aware of the obvious fact that the DNC had helped Hillary get the nomination.

And I think the interference, though not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.

For anyone in public life to utter such an absurdity, let alone a former president, is contemptible. But let’s recall that Jimmy Carter is not exactly a reliable source when it comes to elections. A reader reminded me of this news report from September 2012:

Former US President Jimmy Carter has declared that Venezuela’s electoral system is the best in the world.

Speaking at an annual event last week in Atlanta for his Carter Centre foundation, the politician-turned philanthropist stated, “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

…Carter also disclosed his opinion that in the US “we have one of the worst election processes in the world, and it’s almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money,” he said referring to lack of controls over private campaign donations.

The comments come with just three weeks before Venezuelans go to the polls on 7 October, in a historic presidential election in which socialist incumbent President Hugo Chavez is standing against right-wing challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition.

Chavez welcomed Carter’s comments, stating yesterday that “he [Carter] has spoken the truth because he has verified it. We say that the Venezuelan electoral system is one of the best in the world”.

Chavez also reported that he had had a forty minute conversation with the ex-Democrat president yesterday, and said that Carter, “as Fidel [Castro] says, is a man of honour”.

You could say that Carter is a long-time Communist dupe, but that might be too kind. Here is a more sober view of the quality of Venezuela’s 2012 election:

For nearly 14 years, Hugo Chavez labored with tireless energy, undeniable charisma, and ruthless design to destroy the opposition, silence critics, and intimidate skeptics, all while leaving the Potemkin façade of a “democracy”. These conditions have made Venezuelan elections under Chavez utterly unfair. Judges who ruled against Chavez were imprisoned. Those that remain openly declared their fealty to him. The previous opposition presidential candidate is in exile. Businessmen who supported opposition candidates were investigated and expropriated. Labor leaders who opposed the government were imprisoned. Opposition radio and TV stations were shut down, denied permits, and fined. Those that survived engaged in self-censorship.
The electoral campaign process, meanwhile, was patently unfair. Chavez had unlimited use of state funds and state infrastructure to carry out his campaign. … The ruling party campaign was lavishly and freely financed with state funds, while the opposition was denied any public financing whatsoever (and Venezuelan businessmen knew they faced expropriation, or worse, if they openly supported the opposition campaign).

Then there was perhaps the most critical element of a modern election campaign: access to the mass media. Via the arbitrary issuance and withdrawal of licenses, Chavez enjoyed the support of all but one TV channel in the country. On top of all this, during the campaign Chavez regularly commandeered all of the airwaves, citing presidential privilege. The process is aptly named cadenas (chains) and compels all TV and radio stations, no matter the ownership or their politics, to broadcast the president’s speeches in full–no matter how long the tirade. Chavez’s “chains” had the effect of crowding out any significant news regarding the opposition. For instance, on September 17, 2012, during one of the largest rallies in the Capriles campaign, hundreds of thousands turned out to hear him speak in a Caracas park. The event was broadcast live all around the country on radio and TV. However, shortly after Capriles began to speak, Chavez abruptly cut him off by declaring another cadena, in which he extolled the virtues of the current Venezuelan state and the benefits of socialism.


A pre-election poll in Venezuela indicated that 40 percent of those questioned did not believe their ballots would be secret and 30 percent stated that this intimidated them.

…Venezuela has a sordid precedent of violating the democratic principle of ballot secrecy from the 2004 referendum petition, which sought to remove Chavez from office in a recall election. Chavez famously warned: “Whoever signs [the petition] against Chavez… their name will be there, registered for history, because they’ll have to put down their first name, their last name, their signature, their identity card number, and their fingerprint.”

This registry of names was later published by a chavista congressman, Luis Tascón, on his personal website. The “Lista Tascón” was used to create an apartheid-like system, dividing Venezuelans into those who “had signed against the president” and those who were loyal to Chavez. Public employees lost their jobs, those seeking employment were instantly disqualified, and identification papers became hard to get for those who had dared sign the recall petition. Citizens seeking loans from state banks were told they had opted out of any assistance due to their disloyalty to Chavez.

This is the system that Jimmy Carter loved, and that many Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, praised.


Bob Newhart lives

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 04:31 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)Bob Newhart makes infrequent live appearances at age 89, but he was featured last night at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis as part of the first-ever Minneapolis Comedy Festival. He must have three generations of fans in Minneapolis. The line to get into the theater wound around the block last night.

I think it’s fair to say that Newhart is beloved. What a thrill to see him perform a stand-up routine at this late date. I can’t find a review of last night’s show online. This may be a Power Line exclusive.

Although Newhart’s comedy style is a throwback to the ’50s and ’60s, not a single one of his jokes misfired. The laughs were hearty. The man is funny. It is a gift subject only to the pleasure principle.

Newhart kicked off his routine last night with an abbreviated account of the source of his affection for Minneapolis. Reading Neal Justin’s slightly more detailed account in the Star Tribune made me laugh out loud. It has a good punch line:

Bob Newhart is most associated with Chicago and Vermont, the settings of his two memorable sitcoms. But the 89-year-old comic has a soft spot for the Twin Cities, so much so that he recorded much of his second album, 1960’s “The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!” at Freddie’s Cafe, once the hippest joint in Minneapolis.

It was while appearing at that club that he forged a friendship with “Laugh-In” co-host Dick Martin, who wound up directing the last episode of “Newhart” in 1990, still considered one of the most clever finales in TV history.

Before his appearance Friday at the Minneapolis Comedy Festival, Newhart spoke by phone about why he owes part of his success to Minnesota and how he’s still relevant 60 years into his career.

Q: How did Minneapolis help put you on the map?

A: I’ll tell you what’s interesting. I recorded an album for Warner Brothers in January of 1960 and never heard back from them. A few months later, I called them up and said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I made a comedy record for you and I haven’t heard anything.” They said, “It’s going crazy in Minneapolis.”

Every pressing was being sent to Minneapolis. Howard Viken at WCCO Radio was putting me on the air. They were even publishing in the paper what times certain bits would be airing, like: “Abe Lincoln at 5:30 p.m.”

Newhart’s routine was funny from beginning to end. The audience laughed loud and long — even in Row W, where the sound was incredibly muddy. It was hard to pick up Bob’s somewhat infirm voice. When he played a video with an old television sketch (below), I had no idea Bob was talking about a toupee. Newhart explained that Dean Martin didn’t like to rehearse.

Newhart’s routine included some dated material about televangelists. It was funny too, but I wish he would have updated it with something on the current crop.

Alluding to his age, Bob claimed to blank out on his routine twice last night. I bought it the first time. He made that funny too.

As I say, Newhart’s show was funny from beginning to end. It also transported the audience to a time long ago and a galaxy far, far away. The strongest vulgarity he used was “hell.” The only (slightly) risqué story he told drew on his Catholic upbringing. Need I say it was funny too?

At the conclusion of his 60-minute set Bob returned for an encore. For his encore Newhart performed his bus driver’s school routine (below) from The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!. The routine is 60 years old. It is, shall we say, still funny. “That’s called the perfect pullout.”

Not having heard the routine before, I laughed until I cried. I haven’t laughed that hard since the first time I saw Richard Pryor teach Gene Wilder how to disguise himself as a black man in Silver Streak.

With the length of the line outside the theater, we were admitted a few minutes after the scheduled 7:00 p.m. start time. The opening act was in progress — a performer singing Great American Songbook songs behind a terrific band. The singer looked like Lyle Lovett Large Band star Francine Reed and sounded like a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. She closed her set with Ella’s “Air Mail Special,” a song I have never heard anyone else attempt to cover.

Who was she? I asked an usher. “They only told us it’s a ten-piece band,” she said.

The band vamped an intro for Newhart as he walked onto the stage and the curtain fell behind him. It was a perfect night.


The Week in Pictures: Debate Fatigue Edition

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 03:11 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)Good grief! We’ve got several more months of debates like this? I’m suffering a popcorn hangover, and I’m on my third liver of the week already. The clear winner is Donald Trump. Cheer up—if the Dems flame out as it appears they will, AOC will be the top Democrat come 2021. Won’t that be fun.






TFW you’ve finished Max Boot’s latest column.

Headlines of the week:



J.R.R. Hulkian?


And finally. . . a blast from the past:


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