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GOP 52
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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump Fires Back
      •  Kasich Calls Trump Tweets "Unacceptable"
      •  House Wants to Re-Assert Its War Powers
      •  Trump Wonders What States Are Trying to Hide
      •  Tillerson Temper Tantrums Times Two
      •  GOP Senators Want to Skip Recess
      •  Several States Are in Shutdown Mode

Trump Fires Back

Nobody puts baby in a corner. And nobody tells Donald Trump what to do. So, despite intense criticism from both sides of the aisle, he decided to continue his war of words with MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Saturday's salvo:

The tweet tells us very little about Scarborough or Brzezinski, since we can safely say that he is not crazy and she is not dumb. It does, however, reveal much about Trump. That he's thin-skinned, immature, and petulant, of course. That he holds most women in low esteem, and has no problem bullying them. And that he's shallow, since it would seem the only measure of a show's worth (or a president's worth, presumably) is ratings. Nobody better tell him that some of the greatest and most influential shows in television history—"Freaks and Geeks," "St. Elsewhere," "Star Trek," "Monty Python's Flying Circus," "30 Rock"—drew pedestrian ratings. Meanwhile, some of the highest-rated—"The Beverly Hillbillies," "Leave it to Beaver," "Welcome Back, Kotter," "Dallas," "The Dukes of Hazzard"—were, to be kind, not exactly great artistic achievements.

Now, just because Trump doesn't change his behavior due to criticism does not mean he is deaf to it. In characteristic fashion, he took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to explain how everyone else is wrong, and he is right:

Again, all he is telling us is that he doesn't get it. The problem is not the use of Twitter, it's what he uses the platform to communicate. And whether it's through a broadside, or a pamphlet, or a newspaper, or a fireside chat, or a television commercial, petty personal attacks—particularly against private citizens—have never been regarded as appropriate presidential behavior. Hopefully, that standard will not change, no matter how many centuries the presidency lasts.

One wonders if anyone in Trump's inner circle has considered demanding that he tweet about "Morning Joe," and the "deep state," and his out-of-touch health-care proposals. It may be that reverse psychology is the only way to get him to put the phone down and to start acting presidentially. (Z)

Kasich Calls Trump Tweets "Unacceptable"

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) is not running for president again. No sir, no way. Just ask him. However, he did write a book recently in which he outlines, "his concerns for America and his hopes for our future." And he has been lurking around New Hampshire. And he does tend to be the first Republican to talk to the media when Donald Trump does something untoward. On Saturday, for example, he spoke to ABC and blasted the President's use of social media as "unacceptable."

The point is that, barring a full Sherman, we should assume that Kasich is running in 2020, and is positioning himself as the "reasonable" GOP alternative to Trump. It's not a bad strategy, but also a bit of a long shot, if history is any guide. Here are all the presidents who were not renominated by their party (excepting those who stepped aside after two full terms, either due to tradition or to term limits):

  • VPs who assumed the presidency and were re-elected once: T. Roosevelt (1908), Coolidge (1928), Truman (1952), L. Johnson (1968)
  • VPs who assumed the presidency and were not re-elected: Tyler (1844), Fillmore (1852), A. Johnson (1868), Arthur (1884)
  • Presidents who promised to serve only one term: Polk (1848), Buchanan (1860), Hayes (1880)
  • Presidents who had not promised to serve only one term: Pierce (1856)

It can be hard to distinguish which retirements are voluntary from which ones are not, given that presidents don't exactly like to announce openly that their parties have turned against them. However, the ones who most likely wanted another term, if it had been politically possible, are the two Johnsons, Tyler, Fillmore, and Pierce. That's five times, and in each case it was someone who got caught up in the political storm surrounding the Civil War, or a veep who had worn out his welcome, or both. So, there isn't much precedent for Trump to be denied re-nomination, particularly if a second term is what he wants (and, judging by all the rallies, it is). That said, so much of what Trump does is both unprecedented and unpresidented that who knows what 2020 will bring? Assuming, of course, that he even survives that long without being removed. (Z)

House Wants to Re-Assert Its War Powers

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed and George W. Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which grants the president broad authority to pursue military action against terrorists. Bush and Barack Obama used this power quite regularly, launching military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. However, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), one of the most liberal members of Congress, feels that her colleagues abrogated their constitutional responsibilities on the day they passed the AUMF. And so, on many occasions, she has proposed an amendment to military spending bills that would scrap the measure. And, on many occasions, she has been shot down (no pun intended). At least, until Thursday, when Lee's amendment was successfully added to a critical military spending bill, thanks to surprise GOP support.

By all accounts, there is no one reason for this change in perspective. Part of it is concern over seemingly endless engagements in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places. Part of it is a sense that Congress needs to re-assert itself. And a big part of it, everyone agrees, is that both Democrats and Republicans are less comfortable trusting the president's judgment when that president is Donald Trump. When asked, several members who voted for the amendment pointed specifically to recent events in Syria as a tipping point.

Assuming the bill makes it through the Senate, which is likely, then Trump will have to decide whether or not to sign it. If he interprets the measure as a personal insult, he may balk at doing so. On the other hand, he and his staff don't seem to read things all that carefully (or at all), and he also would not like to be accused of not funding the military. Nor would he enjoy having a veto overridden, which would be a distinct possibility. So, it's anyone's guess what will happen. (Z)

Trump Wonders What States Are Trying to Hide

On Thursday and Friday, state officials received letters from Kris Kobach of the Electoral Integrity Commission ordering them to turn over their voter rolls. Just 48 hours later, a majority have either refused outright, or suggested they are likely to do so. Those states, which span the political spectrum, are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Some state leaders recognize the first step in voter suppression efforts when they see it. Others harbor an anti-federalist dislike of being told what to do by the central government. Still others are constrained by state laws that forbid the sharing of such data.

Donald Trump, who has little interest in such piddling details, and who rarely met a conspiracy theory did didn't like, is having none of it. He's in the midst of a Twitter frenzy right now, and so he took to the platform to declare:

Some might say that "distinguished" is a strong word to use for a panel led by Kris Kobach and Mike Pence, but different strokes for different folks. In any event, Trump's tweet fits nicely with the larger plan, which is to argue—without actual evidence—that there's a vast conspiracy to commit voter fraud. He and his "integrity" panel will simply keep repeating their charge until the base believes it's true (if they don't already). This is called proof by assertion. It's probably worth noting that this is also a key technique in brainwashing.

Of course, while Trump is focused on short-term gain (advancing his "voter fraud" narrative, lashing out at intransigent state officials), he once again has failed to consider the implication of his words. He's argued that those who refuse to share information, when asked to do so, must necessarily have something to hide. If so, Trump might want to take note of a person he's quite close to—so close that he sees him in the mirror every morning—who has repeatedly declined requests to share information that others in his position gave up voluntarily. So, what is the President hiding? (Z)

Tillerson Temper Tantrums Times Two

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is cranky. He's unhappy that many of the people he wanted to hire have been vetoed, despite the fact he was promised he would be able to hire his own staff when he agreed to take this job. He's irritated at the "assistants" that have been appointed to keep an eye on him. He doesn't like Donald Trump's behavior, particularly the tweets. He also believes, with good reason, that unfriendly White House insiders are leaking information about him.

All of this is, apparently, a bit much to bear for a corporate CEO who is used to ordering people to jump, and being asked "how high?" So, on Friday, he had a meltdown, laying into Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office. Reportedly, the verbal tirade was so blistering that Jared Kushner felt compelled to apologize to DeStefano afterwards. And in case there were any doubts about how the Secretary feels, he had a shouting match about immigration policy with Senior Adviser Stephen Miller not long thereafter.

Obviously, this is a situation that is untenable. Tillerson does not like the job or the salary, and didn't seek appointment in the first place. If he's aggravated to the point of screaming, particularly given that he's normally known for his even keel, then something's got to give. And since Donald Trump seems rather unlikely to change the way he does business, we must assume that Tillerson is not long for this administration. (Z)

GOP Senators Want to Skip Recess

Congress hasn't gotten much done since the new term started in January. Who knew how difficult it is to make progress when your party controls both houses of Congress and the White House? Now, the calendar year is half over, and the fiscal year is almost completely over (September 30). Taking note of these things, as well as the fact that the Senate is currently scheduled to be in session for only 33 days between now and the end of September, a group of GOP senators is pushing to shorten the summer recess, or cancel it outright.

The group of senators who made the request numbers around 10, and includes Joni Ernst (IA), James Lankford (OK), Mike Lee (UT), and Luther Strange (AL), among others. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hasn't commented yet because he knows that while added time would be useful, it will be a hard sell with much of his caucus. There are reasons that the Senate recesses like this, among them the miserable summer climate in Washington, the need to do constituent work back home, the desire to see family members (for those senators who do not relocate their families, which is most of them), and the need for a little rest. McConnell may also note, if he's being fatalistic, that if the Senate couldn't get anything done in their first 150 days together, another 10 or 15 may not help much. (Z)

Several States Are in Shutdown Mode

While the federal government's fiscal year ends on September 30, for many states it ends on June 30. And in three states for which that is true—Maine, Illinois, and New Jersey—there's no budget for FY 2017-18 and the state government has been completely or partially shut down. That means, among other things, no financial aid for students, no road repairs, no issuance of new license plates or driver's licenses, no access to state beaches, and—perhaps worst of all—no sales of Powerball lottery tickets.

It's hard to know exactly how this will affect voters, though in New Jersey we may learn if it's possible for a governor's approval rating to drop into the single digits. It's worth noting that all three states have Republican chief executives, and all three will have gubernatorial elections in 2017 (New Jersey) or 2018 (Illinois, Maine). If the current mess helps defeat Chris Christie's preferred successor in New Jersey (Kim Guadagno) and somehow sweeps Bruce Rauner (IL) and Paul LePage (ME) out of office, along with one GOP state senator in Maine, it would give the blue team three more state trifectas, to go with the six they already have. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul03 Trump Fires Back
Jul03 Kasich Calls Trump Tweets "Unacceptable"
Jul03 House Wants to Re-Assert Its War Powers
Jul03 Trump Wonders What States Are Trying to Hide
Jul03 Tillerson Temper Tantrums Times Two
Jul03 GOP Senators Want to Skip Recess
Jul03 Several States Are in Shutdown Mode
Jul01 Trump: Repeal Obamacare now, Replace It Later
Jul01 Mika Brzezinski Fires Back at Trump
Jul01 Trump May Have Tried to Blackmail Brzezinski
Jul01 Trump's Priorities are Clear
Jul01 Could Trump Be Kicked Off Twitter?
Jul01 Can Trump Be Kicked Out of Office?
Jul01 Voter Fraud Commission Wants State Voter Rolls
Jul01 Mueller Makes Another Hire
Jun30 Trump's Tweets Get Ugly
Jun30 Russian Hackers Discussed Getting Clinton E-Mails to Flynn
Jun30 Trump Names Vote Suppressor to Election Integrity Commission
Jun30 Portman and Capito Get the First Goodies
Jun30 Republicans May Keep a Key ACA Tax in Place
Jun30 Trump Has Signed 40 Bills
Jun30 Trump Hopes Kate's Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act Will Be #41 and #42
Jun30 Trump Wants "Golden Age of American Energy Dominance"
Jun30 Another Day, Another Trump Lawyer Under Scrutiny
Jun30 Trump Will Deport Members of an Iraqi Christian Group that Supported Him
Jun29 Travel Ban v2.0 Takes Effect Today
Jun29 Americans Overwhelmingly Reject Republicans' Health-Care Plan
Jun29 Entire Republican Agenda Is Now at Risk
Jun29 Why Has Health Care Been So Hard?
Jun29 Health-Care Debate Is Already Affecting Gubernatorial Races
Jun29 Senate Intelligence Committee Investigation Is Picking Up Steam
Jun29 Trump's Ongoing Re-Election Campaign Raises Ethical Issues
Jun29 Trump's Lawyer Is in Hot Water
Jun28 Vote on Health Care Bill Delayed Until after Senate Recess
Jun28 The Shoes Keep Falling
Jun28 Five Takeaways from the Senate Health Care Bill
Jun28 Bipartisanship Lives: Governors of Both Parties Attack the Senate Health Care Bill
Jun28 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Trump?
Jun28 Time for a Trade War?
Jun28 Only Two Major Countries Like Trump Better than Obama
Jun28 Fake Time Magazine Cover Featuring Trump Hangs in His Golf Resorts
Jun28 Manafort Registers as a Foreign Agent
Jun27 CBO: 22 Million People Will Lose Insurance under the Senate Bill
Jun27 Senate Leadership Revises the Health-Care Bill
Jun27 Graham to Colleagues: Trump Won't Have Your Back
Jun27 Pelosi: 'Hundreds of Thousands' Will Die if Health Care Bill Becomes Law
Jun27 Supreme Court Will Take the Muslim Travel Ban Case in October (Unless it Doesn't)
Jun27 Supreme Court Will Look at Wedding Cake Case
Jun27 No White House Ramadan Celebration this Year
Jun27 Ryan Draws Ironworker Opponent