November 10, 2015

Ben Carson doesn't have political experience on his side, but he certainly has popularity. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday reveals that the Republican presidential candidate is viewed favorably by half of the country. The last candidate to manage that was Hillary Clinton and "even then, she had significantly more detractors than Carson does today," The Washington Post reports. The retired neurosurgeon has a 50 percent favorability rating, and is viewed unfavorably by 32 percent of the general American population.

Carson's booming favorability comes from more than just fervent GOP supporters. Even though the percentage of independents who view him unfavorably has grown from 23 percent to 35 percent over the last six weeks, Carson still maintains an overall image of favorability among independents, with 47 percent viewing him favorably. Republicans favor Carson 71 percent to 18 percent.

The survey's overall results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The margin of error among Republican voters is plus or minus seven points. Becca Stanek

9:28 a.m.

Amanda Gorman is set to ride the wave of enthusiasm generated by her inauguration performance all the way to the Super Bowl.

Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, will take part in the upcoming Super Bowl LV pregame show, Good Morning America revealed on Wednesday.

During President Biden's inauguration last week, Gorman drew widespread acclaim after reading her poem "The Hill We Climb," which she finished in the wake of the deadly attack on the Capitol building earlier in the month. Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted that Gorman's "strong and poignant words" offered a reminder of "the power we each hold in upholding our democracy," while Oprah Winfrey said, "I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!"

Gorman has in the past said she has presidential ambitions herself, telling The New York Times, "This is a long, long, faraway goal, but 2036 I am running for office to be president of the United States."

Super Bowl LV, which will have a smaller than usual audience that includes vaccinated health care workers, will feature The Weeknd as the halftime show performer, with Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan singing the national anthem. H.E.R. will also sing "America the Beautiful," while Miley Cyrus is set to perform in a pregame show for health care workers. The game is set for Feb. 7. Brendan Morrow

8:38 a.m.

Dwayne Johnson has jumped into the presidential race. Well, sort of.

The actor and wrestling star is playing himself in an upcoming NBC sitcom called Young Rock, which both shows his upbringing and also follows his fictional run for president in 2032.

As the title suggests, Young Rock flashes back to show Johnson when he was growing up, with different actors playing him in 1982, 1987, and 1999. But not only does Johnson narrate, but he'll also play himself in a 2032 storyline that sees him launching a White House bid, according to Entertainment Weekly.

A trailer for the show released ahead of its February premiere features Johnson being interviewed about his presidential run by a reporter — Randall Park playing a version of himself who has become a journalist, according to EW — and also shows glimpses of a crowd of supporters and a campaign bus with the slogan, "Just hang on, I'm coming." Rosario Dawson stars as General Monica Jackson, a "resilient leader" who becomes "key to Dwayne Johnson's presidential campaign," EW reports.

Prior to this show, Johnson had suggested he was open to an actual run for president, telling GQ in 2017, "I think that it's a real possibility." He has said, however, that he'd need more experience before potentially throwing his hat in the ring.

"This is a skill set that requires years and years of experience," Johnson told Rolling Stone. "On a local level, on a state level and then on a national level. I have the utmost respect for our country and that position, and I'm not delusioned in any way to think, 'Oh, absolutely, if Trump can do it, I can do it, and I'll see you in 20-whatever, get ready.' Not at all."

It might seem like a long shot, but then again, so did the presidential ambitions of a certain other NBC star. Brendan Morrow

7:37 a.m.

Shares in GameStop, a Texas-based video game retailer, started rising on Jan. 11, and now the company's market value is higher than American Airlines Group Inc., Under Armour Inc., and other large companies. By end of trading Tuesday, GameStop was worth more than $10 billion, up from $1.2 billion at the beginning of the year. The most recent jump in market valuation was fueled by a tweet Tuesday from Elon Musk, but the engine driving GameStop's bizarre reversal of fortune is individual day traders who frequent Reddit's WallStreetBets forum.

These "ordinary investors, stuck at home in the pandemic," swap tips and hatch trading strategies at WallStreetBets and other forums, "often buying things Wall Street has bet against," The Wall Street Journal reports. "Many tout their long-shot wagers with the expression 'YOLO.'" GameStop is by far the biggest manifestation of this phenomenon, but the small investors have also pushed up the valuations of BlackBerry, AMC, and Chinese electric car company NIO.

"The scale and pace of the rally in GameStop, BlackBerry, and other shares this year have caught Wall Street by surprise," the Journal says. And hedge funds that had shorted, or bet against, GameStop in particular have lost billions. Melvin Capital, a hedge fund run by Gabe Plotkin, got a $2.75 billion emergency infusion after its short bets on GameStop and other stocks drained 30 percent of its value this year, Bloomberg News reports.

Melvin Capital threw in the towel late Tuesday and abandoned GameStop at a steep loss, CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin reported Wednesday morning.

Most of the WallStreetBets traders buy call options, not shares of companies, allowing them to make fairly large bets with small investments, the Journal explains. When small investors buy call options in large numbers, as they have with GameStop, the firms selling the options typically hedge by making a separate trade, in this case often buying GameStop shares.

"In extreme cases, this can become a self-reinforcing mechanism, with day traders buying more calls and driving the market makers to buy shares, lifting the stock's price and encouraging more traders to jump in on the action," the Journal explains. But this "momentum trading" is risky, and industry veterans foresee the rally crashing under the weight of market fundamentals. Read more about how the WallStreetBets phenomenon works at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

6:04 a.m.

House Democrats will introduce a budget resolution Monday that starts the process for the Senate to use a legislative tool called budget reconciliation to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with 51 votes, meaning no Republicans would need to support it if the Democratic caucus stuck together. But Democratic leaders also made sure to underscore Tuesday that they would prefer to pass the COVID-19 package with Republican support, through the regular legislative process.

"The work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues but without them if we must," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a news conference. "Time is of the essence to address this crisis." Biden's package includes $1,400 direct payments, a hike in the child tax credit, an extension of emergency jobless benefits set to expire March 14, billions for vaccine distribution and schools, and a $15 national minimum wage, among other provisions.

Ending the legislative filibuster is off the table for now, and using the reconciliation process comes with limitations. Many Democrats, skeptical that any Republicans would support even a smaller stimulus package, see it as the only viable option. But a handful of moderates from both parties are urging Biden to make a deal. One Senate Democrat could thwart the legislation.

"I'll guarantee you I can sit down with my Republican friends and find a pathway forward," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who organized a meeting between bipartisan Senate moderates and Biden's team on Sunday. "Let me try first." Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) disagreed. "People can talk to whoever they want to talk to, but this country faces enormous crises," he said. "Elections have consequences. We're in the majority, and we've got to act."

Starting the ball rolling for budget reconciliation leaves plenty of time for bipartisan talks. "If we're going to use reconciliation, we have to go forward with it pretty soon, but that doesn't prevent a negotiated package as well," said House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). "At worst, it's Plan A and at best it's Plan B." Peter Weber

4:46 a.m.

Former President Donald Trump's departure from office "caused a major rift in the GOP, but his relationship with the GOP isn't the only one that's been strained," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "You see, there was another organization that played an equally important role in Trump's political rise: Fox News. For four years, they treated Trump the way a white lady treats her dog: he was a good boy, and if he peed on you, it was your fault. And the love was mutual. But sometime between Trump's campaign for re-election and his campaign for insurrection, the relationship went south."

Now, even after all Fox News did for Trump, "it looks like this love affair is over," Noah said. "And even though Trump's been married three times, this might be the biggest breakup of his life. And we can't wait for the courtroom drama that this is going to inspire." He was serious about not waiting: The Daily Show cast took the liberty of acting out the divorce court drama, and things got pretty intense when the Trump and Fox News lawyers battled over who gets custody of the Republican Party in the divorce settlement.

The Daily Show also revisited some of the good times Trump and Fox News enjoyed over the past four years — and showed that Fox News has already moved on just fine without him. Peter Weber

3:53 a.m.

Lots of things went wrong with law enforcement before and during the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump, and one of them was the long delay in deployment of National Guard reinforcements. Those failures were the focus of a closed-door hearing Tuesday before the House Appropriations Committee, and among those who testified was Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard. Walker told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the Pentagon had tied his hands.

Because Washington, D.C., isn't a state, the president is nominally in charge of the D.C. National Guard. In practice, the defense secretary and Army secretary are in command, but Walker, like all National Guard commanders, typically has the power to take military action in an emergency. "All military commanders normally have immediate response authority to protect property, life, and in my case, federal functions — federal property and life," Walker told the Post. "But in this instance I did not have that authority."

In a Jan. 5 memo, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who was Walker's direct superior until he stepped down last week, prohibited Walker from deploying a ready force of 40 Guardsmen without a formal "concept of operations" plan, the Post reports. In a Jan. 4 memo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller had prohibited McCarthy from authorizing the deployment of D.C. Guardsmen carrying helmets, body armor, riot control agents, or weapons without his approval, and said the quick reaction force could be dispatched "only as a last resort."

Pentagon officials say the requirement for top-level authorization was a response to the D.C. Guard's participation in Trump's widely criticized crackdown on racial justice protests in June. "When you go back to times when we've done this, like June, we wanted to make sure we were very careful about the employment — careful about fragmentary orders," McCarthy told the Post.

There was also concern at the Pentagon about sending soldiers nominally under Trump's command into a riot of Trump supporters, because that might give the impression Guardsmen were aiding a pro-Trump coup, the Post reports. Those concerns, valid as they may be, don't explain why it took three hours for the Pentagon to deploy the National Guard after the rioters had already overrun the Capitol. Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

2:30 a.m.

For anyone inclined to care about such things, President Biden's inauguration last Wednesday drew higher ratings that former President Trump's swearing-in four years earlier, Nielsen reported Tuesday. In fact, the only two inaugurations to draw more viewers were Ronald Reagan's first inaugural in 1981, watched by 41.8 million viewers, and Barack Obama's 2009 swearing-in, with 37.8 million people watching. Biden's 33.8 million viewers easily topped Trump's 30.6 million, Nielsen said.

More people watched Trump's inauguration on Fox News, though. The network saw a 77 percent decline in viewers for Biden's ceremony versus Trump's. CNN more than made up for the difference — its inaugural coverage was the No. 8 show in all of prime time last week, Nielsen said. In the cable wars, CNN came in first last week, followed by MSNBC and then Fox News.

Trump, if he were bothered about getting lower ratings than Biden, might take a little bit of solace in the fact that more people attended his inauguration in person four years ago. Peter Weber

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