Dem 48
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GOP 52
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Sanctions for North Korea
      •  Breitbart Attacks Trump for Speech about 9/11
      •  Some Trump Lawyers Thought Kushner Should Step Down
      •  Four More States Sue Trump over DACA
      •  Clinton's New Book: It's Not My Fault
      •  GOP Gambled, Lost on Trump
      •  Roy Moore Has Some Interesting Friends
      •  Corker Is Considering Retiring
      •  Romney May Run for the Senate if Hatch Retires

Sanctions for North Korea

In response to North Korea's latest nuclear tests, the U.N. has imposed a new group of sanctions on the country. Oil imports and textile exports will both be severely restricted, if things go according to plan. The idea is to starve the Kim Jong-un regime of the cash needed to finance its weapons development.

Of course, there is zero chance that things will go according to plan. While China doesn't want Kim to get too dangerous, they benefit from instability on the Korean peninsula and play their cards accordingly. At the moment, they're taking a fairly hard line against Kim, but that will eventually change. And in the interim, there's another country that benefits a great deal from North Korea's shenanigans: Russia. Kim's bad behavior potentially hurts a whole host of nations the Putin administration does not like: China, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, etc. So, at the very moment that China is tightening things up, Russian oligarchs are setting up a vast network of shell companies to profit off of the situation and feed the North Koreans badly-needed petroleum. This despite the fact that, of course, Russia voted in favor of the sanctions. Nothing like this happens in that country without Vladimir Putin's say-so, so he is clearly playing both sides of the street. And that means that the sanctions will not only fail to solve Donald Trump's headache, they could lead to a situation where he has to deal with two of America's most dangerous enemies simultaneously. (Z)

Breitbart Attacks Trump for Speech about 9/11

Yesterday, President Donald Trump gave a speech at the Pentagon marking the 9/11 attacks of 16 years ago and saying that he would keep America safe. Nothing strange here. Presidents have been making the same speech for years now.

Nonetheless, Breitbart News didn't like it one bit. It tore into Trump for failing to utter the magic words that would keep America safe: "radical Islamic terrorism." Trump has used the phrase before, but not yesterday. Although the top dog at Breitbart, Steve Bannon, generally supports Trump's policies, he has attacked Trump with increasing frequency often in the past few weeks. It is a bit strange that Bannon supports Trumpism but not Trump, but that's where we are. (V)

Some Trump Lawyers Thought Kushner Should Step Down

Donald Trump is a "me first" kind of guy (more below), and the lawyers to whom he pays big bucks know which side their bread is buttered on. And so, as the John Dowds and Marc Kasowitzes of the world cope with this whole Russiagate mess, they know their first and only job is to save The Donald's hide. To that end, the Wall Street Journal has learned that several of them strongly recommended that the President push his son-in-law Jared Kushner out the door, given that Kushner is both (1) in Trump's inner circle, and (2) badly exposed on the Russia matter. The plan proceeded far enough that a statement announcing Kushner's "resignation" was drafted, although Trump eventually put the kibosh on it.

Everyone involved in the scheme is denying everything, but they would do that even if they had been caught on live television discussing the plan, so their denials are not particularly believable. And while Jared Kushner lives to fight another day, the story tells us two things about the Trump White House: (1) Nobody is truly safe, and (2) Whatever they may say publicly, the administration knows it's in deep on this Russia matter. (Z)

Four More States Sue Trump over DACA

California, Minnesota, Maryland, and Maine sued the administration over DACA yesterday. Fifteen other states sued the administration last week.

When making the announcement, California attorney general Xavier Beccerra said: "It just so happens that one of every four of the DACA recipients in this country—some 200,000—live and work and call California their home, and they've been helping California become the sixth-largest economy in the world." In addition to the two suits by different groups of states, the University of California filed its own suit last Friday. Unless Congress steps in and passes a law resolving the problem, ultimately the Supreme Court is going to have to make the call. (V)

Clinton's New Book: It's Not My Fault

In her new book, Hillary Clinton lists a veritable Who's Who of people responsible for her defeat last November, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Vladimir Putin, James Comey, Julian Assange, and others. She doesn't let herself off the hook entirely, but remains convinced that if Sanders had dropped once it was clear he wasn't going to get the nomination, if the Russians hadn't meddled in the election, and if Comey hadn't dropped a bombshell 10 days before the election, she would be living in the White House now. She's probably right; in fact, if even one of those things wasn't true, she'd probably be president right now.

The book also makes it clear that she thinks Donald Trump is totally unfit to be president. In her view, he doesn't think in terms or morality or human rights, just in terms of power and asserting dominance. She says that she regrets calling half of Trump's supporters "deplorables," but makes the point that they are deplorable. It just wasn't wise saying it out loud.

The most dramatic moment in the book comes on election night, when she realizes that she wasn't going to be president. She was in shock, and could barely breathe. The book also addresses her relation with Bill. She always asked herself: "Do I love him?" The answer was yes, so she stuck with him. The book also talks about sexism in politics at length. She writes that the depth of sexism in the country is clear, because millions of people listened to Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, shrugged, and voted for him anyway. (V)

GOP Gambled, Lost on Trump

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson is one of the best in the business, and he has a new column looking at the relationship between the Trump administration and the GOP. Contained within may be the single-best one-paragraph assessment of the President yet put to paper:

Those Republicans who believe that Trump is being cynical, disloyal or politically calculating continue to misunderstand the man. The president has no discernible political philosophy or strong policy views to betray. His leadership consists mainly of instincts, reflexes and prejudices, which often have nothing to do with self-interest. He has a genius for fame, which usually involves attention-attracting unpredictability and transgressiveness. Trump reads events moment by moment, making him a cork on the waves of cable coverage. Any choice he makes is correct by definition, because he has made it. And any person—on his staff or on Capitol Hill—who does not precisely mimic his political gyrations is disloyal and should be punished.

That said, Gerson's purpose is not to eviscerate The Donald. Been there, done that. His purpose is to point out that the GOP leadership hitched their wagon to Trump, tolerating his bad behavior with the hope that he would be a "useful idiot" whom they could lead around by the nose. That "huge wager," as Gerson puts it, has not paid off, and the question is what price the GOP will pay for the decision its leaders made. To illustrate the potential ways in which the Trump virus could infect the whole party, the writer observes that:

News accounts following Trump's betrayal of Republican leaders on the debt limit reported them to be "livid." What does it tell us about Republican politicians that they were livid about a three-month debt-limit extension but not so much about misogyny, nativism and flirtation with racism?

He thinks that people might just take note of this, and infer a few things about the Republican Party's priorities.

While Gerson is focused on the short-term damage to the GOP brand—the 2018 midterms, the 2020 presidential election—what the Party should really be nervous about is the long-term damage. Over and over, scholars have demonstrated that voter preferences tend to be set at a young age; between 18 and 30, or so. Right now, millions of millennials are coming of age, and they are soon to be the single-largest "generation" of voters. If they perceive the GOP as the party of nativism, racism, sexism, and the like, they could become life members of the blue team. Put another way, the enormous popularity of Franklin D. Roosevelt positioned the Democrats to dominate national politics for the better part of half a century. What happens to a Party when they have the anti-FDR as their standard-bearer? (Z)

Roy Moore Has Some Interesting Friends

Speaking of GOP bigotry, Roy Moore—who will soon be the GOP's candidate in the race for Alabama's senate seat, if the polls have it right—is not the most forward-looking fellow out there. He is so hostile to the gay community that he chose to defy the SCOTUS' ruling on gay marriage, which led to his suspension and eventual resignation from his post as Alabama's chief justice (the second time he was forced to leave that job because of his inability to play by the rules). Moore is also an Obama birther, which is generally understood to be a dog whistle for racism. Anyhow, for these reasons and others, the former judge is often described as a "Christian supremacist."

CNN decided to do a little digging into Moore's past, and on Monday, they revealed one of the things they've learned: He has been a semi-regular guest on pastor Kevin Swanson's Generation Radio show. Swanson is so far right that he makes Moore look like a Berkeley hippie, and is perhaps best known for his oft-stated view that all homosexuals should be put to death. More recently, he's made headlines for declaring that Hurricane Harvey was sent by God to punish Houston for electing a gay mayor.

In the past, associating with Swanson has become an anchor around the necks of conservative politicians, most notably Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was forced to disavow his friendship with the pastor while running for president in 2016. But will it hurt Moore? Presumably his base knows what kind of man they are voting for, and—when it comes to gay people—feels that the more homophobic, the better. So, it is unlikely that this revelation will do anything to help Moore's primary opponent, Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who is down by double digits with that election just two weeks away (Sept. 26). However, there is certainly a population of Alabama Republicans and Independents who are willing to vote GOP, but for whom Moore may be a bridge too far. In the general election, some (or many) of them may be driven into the camp of Democratic challenger Doug Jones. There's a long way to go until then (Dec. 12) but, for what it is worth, the latest poll gives Moore only a 3.5-point lead over Jones in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. (Z)

Corker Is Considering Retiring

Sen Bob Corker (R-TN), who is a mere stripling at 65, is considering retiring. It is unusual enough for a senator to throw in the towel at such a young age, but even more unusual when the senator is chairman of a powerful committee, in Corker's case the Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is urging him to run in 2018, but Corker has said he hasn't decided and also hasn't given a timetable for when he might decide.

Corker has $7.5 million in the bank and is a shoo-in if he runs. He has been critical of Donald Trump upon occasion and Trump has sent angry tweets in his direction, but Corker is unlikely to factor in Trump's tweets when making a decision. If he decides to retire, The Republicans will be favored to hold the seat, but it won't be quite the done deal it would be with Corker on the ballot. (V)

Romney May Run for the Senate if Hatch Retires

Sen. Orrin Hatch would be 90 at the end of his term if he is re-elected in 2018. He has said he will make a decision in December of this year. If Hatch decides to call it a day, Mitt Romney is planning a run for the seat. Romney is very well known in Utah and could self fund his campaign, so he could jump in as late as December and have nothing to worry about. He might get a competitor or two, but he would be the overwhelming favorite.

The real question, however, is why Romney would want to run. Assuming victory, he would turn 72 years old just a few weeks after beginning his Senate term. It takes 15-20 years to achieve any real power in the Senate; presumably he is not planning to serve that long, with an eye toward being a 95-year-old chair of the Appropriations Committee. The only possible purpose he could have is the platform that being a senator would afford him. His game could certainly be to lead the anti-Trump Republicans, and to try to take back the Party from the Bannon-style populists. However, he could play that role pretty effectively without all the hard work of being a Senator. More plausible is that he still harbors White House ambitions, and that this would put him in a good position to challenge Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) for the anti-Trump vote in the 2020 GOP primaries. Only he knows for sure, and, of course, it's all moot until Hatch makes a decision to retire. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep11 Bannon Is Planning Primaries against Senate Incumbents
Sep11 Bannon Says Firing Comey Was Biggest Mistake in Modern Political History
Sep11 California Is Going to Shake Up the 2020 Presidential Nomination Process
Sep11 Trump's Lawyer Hires a Lawyer
Sep11 McCain: I'm Facing a Challenge
Sep11 When Trump Promises Happiness, Look Out
Sep11 Sometimes the "Fake News" Really Is Fake
Sep10 Trump Connects Irma with Taxes
Sep10 Trump Willing to Get Rid of Debt Ceiling
Sep10 DOJ Won't Prosecute Lois Lerner
Sep10 Ryan Being Savaged on All Sides
Sep10 Pastor Declares Trump's Religiosity
Sep10 What Should Hillary Clinton Do Now?
Sep10 Two Congressmen Apparently Like the Gerrymander
Sep09 Three Moderate House Republicans Are Retiring
Sep09 Baucus Comes Out in Favor of Single-Payer Healthcare
Sep09 Mueller Wants to Talk to Six Top Trump Staffers
Sep09 Former DHS Secretary Sues DHS
Sep09 Trump-Schumer-Pelosi Plan Is Now the Law of the Land
Sep09 Trump's Relationship with Congressional Republicans Goes from Bad to Worse
Sep09 Trump Can't Decide How Strong the U.S. Military Is
Sep09 Another Friday, Another White House Departure
Sep08 Trump Raves about the News Coverage of His Deal with the Democrats
Sep08 Conservatives Don't Care about the Coverage, Hate the Deal
Sep08 Hillary Clinton Wants to Continue the 2016 Democratic Primary
Sep08 Steve Bannon Behaving like Steve Bannon
Sep08 Cohn on Thin Ice
Sep08 Donald Trump Jr. Interviewed by Senate Staffers
Sep08 Mueller Leaving No Stone Unturned
Sep07 Trump Takes Democrats' First Offer on Debt Limit
Sep07 Members of Both Parties Want to Know More about Trump Tower Moscow
Sep07 Red-State Democrats Now Support DACA
Sep07 Fifteen States Sue Trump on DACA
Sep07 Gerrymandering Case Gets Some Unlikely Support
Sep07 Irma Visits Donald
Sep07 Menendez's Trial Began Yesterday
Sep07 Protests, By the Numbers
Sep06 Trump Tells Sessions to End DACA in 6 Months
Sep06 Trump Shoots the Hostages
Sep06 Republicans Have Good Reason to Fear 2018
Sep06 Franken Won't Turn in His Blue Slip
Sep06 Trump Kompromat, Pence Obstruction?
Sep06 Manafort Trying to Keep His Testimony Secret
Sep05 Situation in Korea Is Already Escalating
Sep05 If Trump Ends DACA, at Least Two States Will Sue Him
Sep05 Lots of People Will Be Angry if DACA Is Killed
Sep05 For Trump, the Rubber is About to Meet the Road
Sep05 Breitbart Is Putting Trump In a Quandary
Sep05 Harvey and the Debt Limit
Sep05 Clarke Expected to Take a Job in Trump Administration