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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Situation in Korea Is Already Escalating
      •  If Trump Ends DACA, at Least Two States Will Sue Him
      •  Lots of People Will Be Angry if DACA Is Killed
      •  For Trump, the Rubber is About to Meet the Road
      •  Breitbart Is Putting Trump In a Quandary
      •  Harvey and the Debt Limit
      •  Clarke Expected to Take a Job in Trump Administration

Situation in Korea Is Already Escalating

On Sunday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that Kim Jong-un is "begging for war." Meanwhile, President Donald Trump upped the ante for North Korea by giving South Korea permission to increase the payload on its missiles.

Another option Trump has to escalate the conflict without actually starting a war is to reintroduce U.S. nuclear weapons to South Korea. In 1991, the two Koreas signed an agreement to keep the peninsula free of nuclear weapons, so the U.S. withdrew its H-bombs from South Korea. Now that North Korea has violated the agreement, the possibility exists that the U.S. could ask South Korea if it could station nuclear weapons in the country. This would, of course, frighten North Korea, and make a nuclear war more likely. Most U.S. military experts are against redeploying nuclear weapons in South Korea for fear that an accident or misunderstanding could start a nuclear war. Of course, such weapons could be placed on U.S. submarines or surface ships close to North Korea, with or without South Korea's assent. Ultimately, it is the commander-in-chief who has to either make the final call or decide to let Defense Secretary James Mattis make the decision. (V)

If Trump Ends DACA, at Least Two States Will Sue Him

Donald Trump is expected to announce today that he will terminate the DACA program, possibly with a 6-month delay to give Congress a chance to act. The program allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to remain. Trump's plan does not sit well in New York or Washington State and both states' attorneys general said yesterday that if he ends the program, they will sue him. In practice this means that unless Congress acts—and getting Congress to do anything is not easy—the hot potato will end up in the Supreme Court. The court surely doesn't want the case, but if both the executive and legislative branches punt on it, it will have to make the call.

Immigration policy is something that logically should be regulated by a law Congress passes. The trouble is that Democrats generally favor letting the DREAMers stay while Republicans see them as criminals who violated immigration laws and should not be given amnesty. Actually, not all Congressional Republicans see it that way, but many of their voters most certainly do. Getting a bill through both chambers will be extremely difficult.

The only compromise that might stand a chance is to let the DREAMers stay but make it impossible for them to become citizens (and thus eligible to vote). It's the voting that Republicans really fear, and if that can be taken off the table, they might agree to some kind of permanent green card for the DREAMers. Whether Democrats will swallow that is another matter. In any case, getting a law passed won't be easy. (V)

Lots of People Will Be Angry if DACA Is Killed

As he works to make America great again, Donald Trump is demonstrating an unusual aptitude for aggravating large segments of the American public. If and when he sorta kills DACA today, as he is expected to do, that may reach an all-new level, which is saying something for the president who fumbled Charlottesville. Here is a partial list of the people who will be upset:

  • The Voting Public: The latest poll to look at this matter, released by NBC News/SurveyMonkey on Thursday, revealed that almost two-thirds of adult voters (64%) want DACA preserved, while only 30% want it killed. A similar percentage (60%) opposed the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Expect the Democrats, and some hostile Republicans (e.g., Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ) to tie these two things together next year. As popular singer (and Trump critic) Lauren Jauregui put it on Twitter, "It's incredible to me that you'll pardon a man who is known for running his prison as a Latino concentration camp and call him a patriot, but then deport kids with a dream to be successful citizens with safe lives."

  • The Evangelicals: Most of the evangelical leaders who are closest with Trump stayed with him through pu**ygate, and Charlottesville, and a lot of other behavior that might seem to be a bit...un-Christian. Maybe they know something about Jesus' interactions with Mary Magdalene, or alternative uses that he had for crosses, that we don't. In any event, ending DACA is a bridge too far for many of them. Why this, and not some of the past bad behaviors? There is certainly some scripture here that appears germane, like Mark 10:9, "Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate," which could certainly be read as applying to families. Or Proverbs 22:6, "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." On a more practical level, according to an article in Christianity Today, the church leaders recognize that as many native-born Americans turn away from religion, Latinos have tended to remain very devout. Consequently, the evangelicals don't just see 800,000 DREAMers, they see the next generation of church leaders. "Open the door," Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, declared. "Perhaps they're the next missionaries that you're opening the door for."

  • Corporate Leaders: Over 400 CEOs and corporate presidents, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Meg Whitman have signed an open letter to Donald Trump imploring him to keep DACA. The letter declares how important the DREAMers are to America's economic growth and continued competitiveness on the world stage, and points out that their expulsion will slash $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions annually.

  • Employers: The libertarian CATO institute, which is funded by the Kochs, says that ending DACA will impose a terrible burden on the businesses that currently employ DREAMers. According to their estimates, employers will have to terminate 6,914 employees at a cost of $61 million in recruitment and re-training. That's every single week, for the next two years, at a total cost of over $6 billion. Ironically, for a president who hates "business-killing regulations," CATO says that the cost will be equivalent to the cost of 30 new federal regulations.

  • Congress: The members of Congress know what it looks like when the buck is passed, and they don't like it. Quite a few of them, including the Republicans, are telling the President to keep the program. That includes, remarkably enough, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), who is generally regarded as the biggest anti-immigration hawk in the Senate.

  • Sally Bradshaw: Bradshaw co-authored the 2012 "autopsy" the GOP commissioned after losing badly to Barack Obama. She has since become so thoroughly discouraged by the party's failure to heed her recommendations (which included, in big red letters, "REACH OUT TO LATINOS") that she's left the Party. "Donald Trump is anti-woman, anti-Hispanic, anti-black," Bradshaw said when asked about the DACA decision. "The only thing he is for is for himself." She predicted that, "Those in Republican leadership who have enabled his behavior by standing silent or making excuses for him deserve the reckoning that will eventually come."

  • Donald Trump: The President made his bed by talking out of both sides of his mouth, praising the DREAMers and yet blasting the program that made their presence in the U.S. possible. And the attorneys general who threatened to sue the President, aided by White House aide Stephen Miller and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, forced him to lie in that bed. Reportedly, Trump convened an emergency meeting of advisers to try and find a way out. The "wait six months" compromise was the best they could come up with. Trump remains uncertain enough that, as late as Monday night, White House insiders said that he could still change his mind.

  • Jeff Sessions: "If you can't stand the heat," Harry S. Truman loved to say, "Then get out of the kitchen." Donald Trump seems to have taken that lesson to heart, because he's going to be somewhere far away from the kitchen when and if the announcement to kill DACA is officially made. Jeff Sessions, who will otherwise be delighted by the decision, as he as actively outspoken against undocumented immigrants, will draw the duty of telling reporters. Then he too will flee with his tail between his legs, as the White House has made clear that there will be no questions taken.

  • Barack Obama: He's largely kept his opinions to himself since leaving office, but DACA is one of his signature achievements, and—as the child of an immigrant himself—he has enormous empathy for the DREAMers. So, he is expected to speak out against Trump on Tuesday, using Facebook, Twitter, and possibly even a television appearance. Given how much Trump has sniped at Obama, even when Obama was remaining silent, this is not likely to go over well in the White House. Meanwhile, Obama is trying to figure out where all this love for his agenda was while he was in office.

The real lesson here is that saying dramatic things to adoring crowds at rallies, who may be .001% of the U.S. population, and an unrepresentative sample at that, is very, very easy. When you start actually doing things that affect the whole country, where everyone is weighing in, it gets much, much harder. One wonders if Trump has begun to appreciate that in any meaningful way. (Z)

For Trump, the Rubber is About to Meet the Road

There is little question that Donald Trump has spent much of his time in office spinning his wheels. Outside of bills renaming post offices, he's signed virtually nothing into law. His administration is still grossly understaffed. His foreign policy has been haphazard, and the White House is in a constant state of turmoil. And then, of course, there's Russiagate. Add it all up, and Donald Trump is about to enter a critical four-month period. By the end of it, we may very well know if he has any chance of turning things around, or if he's a dead man walking. Specifically:

  • Congress: The Obamacare repeal is all but dead, which means that if the GOP is going to secure a legislative "achievement," it's presumably going to have to be a tax cut. But, unfortunately for Trump, there are some pretty big problems on that front. The first problem is that changing the tax code, as we have pointed out many times, is really, really hard. Everyone has a stake, and everyone fights hard for their own interests. The second problem is that Congress has other business that simply must get dealt with, like a budget for next year. The third problem is that Congress may need to deal with DACA now, adding to an already overburdened "to do" list. The fourth problem is that the legislative calendar is winding down; Congress is scheduled to be in session for only 48 more days this year. Add it up, and the best case scenario for Trump is probably that he gets a budget with some more money for the military, and some money for Texas and Florida and Louisiana to rebuild from the hurricanes, and he tweets that out as a "win." If that is how it comes to pass, though, it means that he will finish his first year in office—including his "honeymoon" period—with no signature legislative accomplishments. No Mexican wall, no "terrific" replacement for Obamacare, no tax cut, no infrastructure package. And for a president whose approval rating is in the 30s, and whose party is facing a potential shellacking in the midterms, it doesn't get any easier next year.

  • Staffing: Trump just made a wave of new nominations, though it will be difficult to get them all through Congress. First, because of the packed calendar. Second, because some—such as NASA Administrator-designate Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)—are questionable. On some level, this is a lost cause—Trump is just going to have to take his black eye, and spin it that he's cutting government expenses by not hiring anyone. His focus should probably be on making sure that his White House team, at least, stays intact. The problem there is that virtually all of the key members are either fed up (economic adviser Gary Cohn, NSA H.R. McMaster, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson), or are isolated (strategic adviser Stephen Miller), or are facing serious external troubles (Jared Kushner). If Trump makes it to the end of the year with no further major departures, it will be a minor miracle. Heck, it will be something of a miracle if he makes it through this Friday, since we're on a seven-week streak in which someone high-profile was sent packing on a Friday. To wit: Keith Schiller (Sep. 1), Sebastian Gorka (Aug. 25), Steve Bannon (Aug. 18), the White House Manufacturing and Advisory Councils (Aug. 11), Anthony Scaramucci (Aug. 4), Reince Priebus (Jul. 27), Sean Spicer (Jul. 20).

  • Hurricanes: It's going to take a while for Texas and Louisiana to bounce back from Hurricane Harvey. And, in a bit of bad luck for the President (and a lot of bad luck for Florida), Hurricane Irma is looming. Whether fair or not, Trump will be judged based on how things go in those states.

  • Russiagate: Only Robert Mueller knows what his timeline is, and he's not telling. He could release a report about Russia and Trump on Monday, or he could keep his cards hidden until after next year's midterms. However, what we do know is that all three Congressional committees that are looking into Russiagate are ramping up, and that they will be interviewing some high-profile folks, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort and first son Donald Trump Jr., among others. The bad news for Trump is that Congress is where all the leaks seem to come from, so if there are any bombshells, we'll likely know about them very quickly, despite the fact that all of this testimony is supposed to happen behind closed doors.

  • Foreign Policy: Trump is learning that presidents' foreign policies tend to be defined by their interactions with just a few countries, and sometimes the list is a bit arbitrary. For Barack Obama, it was Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, Iran, and Iraq. For George W. Bush, it was Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuela. For Bill Clinton, it was Somalia, the Balkan states, Haiti, and Israel. For The Donald, of course, the nation that is front and center is North Korea, with China and South Korea in juicy supporting roles. The current pissing contest can only continue so long; Trump and Kim Jong-un can only up the ante so many times before they actually lob a missile or else back down. So, this is a picture that's likely to be much clearer by the end of the year.

The smart money says that Trump has dug himself too deep a hole to climb out of, and he ends the year in a position not much better than the one he is in right now (or, in fact, in a worse position). On the other hand, the smart money said that he'd never, ever become president in the first place, so who knows? (Z)

Breitbart Is Putting Trump In a Quandary

Alabama Republicans will pick their Senate candidate on Sept. 26, and Breitbart News is waging full-scale war against Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who was appointed to fill the seat of Jeff Sessions when he left the Senate. Donald Trump endorsed Strange in the first round of the primary and has to decide now whether to continue to support him against former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore. If he sticks with Strange, he will be subject to ongoing attacks from Breitbart and its leader, Steve Bannon, who is now definitely outside the tent pissing in. These attacks are probably going to hurt the President with part of his base. On the other hand, if he changes horses in midstream and suddenly supports Moore, he will earn the everlasting enmity of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who desperately wants Strange to win. So Trump can choose between (1) having Bannon hate him, or (2) having McConnell hate him.

The battle may come to a head this week when Moore visits D.C. to try to collect endorsements from members of the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives. If he gets them and Trump sticks with Strange, then The Donald makes more enemies in Congress. Another factor Trump has to consider is that if the candidate he ultimately supports loses, other Republicans will take note that his endorsement or lack thereof isn't so important. That will reduce whatever leverage he still has over them. Possibly the best course for him is to stay neutral, but that's not easy for him to do, what with the siren song of Twitter playing in his head 24 hours a day. (V)

Harvey and the Debt Limit

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that the bill to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey should be packaged together with an otherwise clean bill to raise the debt ceiling and then passed quickly. Yesterday, the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee (HRSC), Mark Walker (R-NC), threw sand in the gears by saying that he opposes that plan. Instead, he wants to use the debt ceiling bill as a Christmas tree on which to hang lovely conservative ornaments that could not be passed on their own. This puts the HRSC on a possible collision course with Mnuchin and the administration.

If Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) decides to do what Mnuchin wants, and writes a bill combining Harvey aid with a new debt ceiling, he is going to need Democratic votes to pass it. It is not impossible that the Democrats might want a few of their priorities in the bill to get their votes. If Ryan works with them, many other Republicans will be angry with him, and he could end up meeting the same fate as former Speaker John Boehner, who was driven from the House for working with the Democrats. Things like this are why only one Speaker has ever gone on to be President of the United States. And that one—James K. Polk—got elected 170 years ago. (V)

Clarke Expected to Take a Job in Trump Administration

Former Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke, who resigned his post without explanation last week, is strongly rumored to be headed for a position in the Trump administration. Clarke is in competition with Joe Arpaio for the title of "least popular former lawman in America," having "earned" this honor with many of the same kinds of behaviors, including outspoken opposition to Planned Parenthood (which he calls "Planned Genocide"), racial profiling, and deplorable jail conditions. Particularly controversial was the death of Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration in a Milwaukee jail cell when guards turned off his water as punishment for...something. It's actually not entirely clear.

In any event, Clarke will not confirm his move to the White House, nor will the Trump administration. We went through this about six weeks ago, when Clarke was originally set to be appointed to a job with the Department of Homeland Security. After that news broke, everyone involved went scurrying for cover. That incident, and the way in which the hiring is being handled this time, suggests that the administration knows that employing Clarke is troublesome (particularly right after the Arpaio pardon) and is doing everything possible to sneak him in through the back door. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep04 Trump Notes North Korea's Nuclear Test and Attacks South Korea
Sep04 Trump Likely to Announce End of DACA This Week
Sep04 Trump Is Playing Only to His Base
Sep04 Is Donald Trump...Suicidal?
Sep04 Democrats Have a 10-Point Lead on the Generic House Ballot
Sep04 Trump Nominations Could Mean Two More Special Elections
Sep04 States Struggle to Fix Voting Security
Sep04 Elizabeth Warren is Religious
Sep04 Do the Democrats Need a Kennedy to Save Them?
Sep03 Justice Dept.: Trump Tower Wasn't Wiretapped
Sep03 Trump Wants to Kill Trade Deal with South Korea
Sep03 How John Kelly Has Changed the White House
Sep03 Trump Does Better in Hurricane Harvey Visit v2.0
Sep03 Texas Republicans Have No Answers When it Comes to Hurricane Harvey
Sep03 Killing DACA Could Become a Big Headache for Trump
Sep03 Does John Bel Edwards Have the Special Sauce?
Sep02 Russians May Have Hacked Voter Registration Lists
Sep02 Mueller Has the Original Comey Firing Letter
Sep02 Mick the Knife Gets to Work
Sep02 Trump Concedes: No Wall, For Now
Sep02 Ryan, Hatch Urge Caution with DACA
Sep02 Time For Obamacare Repeal Runs Short
Sep02 Long-Time Trump Aide Keith Schiller Will Leave White House
Sep02 The Invisible Primary Is Already Underway
Sep02 Judge to Menendez: No Breaks in the Trial So You Can Vote in the Senate
Sep01 Manafort Notes from Meeting with Russians Mention Donations
Sep01 Could an Accountant Take Down Trump?
Sep01 Muslim Travel Ban v1.0 Is Dead
Sep01 CEOs May Attack Trump If He Ends DACA
Sep01 Trump Reduces Pay Raises for Government Employees
Sep01 Democrats' 2020 Dilemma: Old vs. Young
Sep01 Majority Thinks Trump Is Tearing the Country Apart
Sep01 Trump Is a Weak President
Sep01 Kushner Has Yet Another Problem
Sep01 Not So Fast, Joe
Aug31 Mueller Teams up with Schneiderman
Aug31 'Talking is not the answer,' Says Trump; 'Yes, it is,' Says Mattis
Aug31 Trump Talks Taxes
Aug31 Richard Trumka: White House Was Split between Racists and Wall Streeters
Aug31 Prosecutors Assert that Menendez Has Been Taking Bribes for Years
Aug31 Christie Slams Cruz
Aug31 Harris to Co-Sponsor Sanders' Single-Payer Bill
Aug31 Jerry Springer May Run for Governor of Ohio
Aug30 Trump Holds Rally in Texas
Aug30 Trump May Soon Face Tough Choice Due to Hurricane Harvey
Aug30 Kim Jong-Un Isn't Going Away
Aug30 Trump's Tax Plan Doesn't Hold Water
Aug30 Ninth Circuit Court Seems Skeptical of Muslim Ban v2.0
Aug30 Mueller Subpoenas Manafort's Former Lawyer
Aug30 Donald Trump Jr. Will Talk to Senate Judiciary Committee