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The One Number That Will Decide This Year's Election

The One Number That Will Decide This Year's Election

Molly Ball

For the past decade, the working-class vote has determined whether the country swung toward Democrats or Republicans. 

What will be the deciding factor in this year's elections? Will it be Obamacare? The chaos erupting across the globe? The president's approval rating? Will it be single women voters, Hispanics, young people?

Mike Podhorzer crunched the numbers and found there's one factor that, with eerie consistency, explains the way elections have swung for the past decade. Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO, is one of the top electoral strategists on the left. The crucial factor, he found, is Democrats' vote share among voters making less than $50,000.

Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn't vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this group's vote; in 2010, Republican House candidates got 55 percent. And Democrats consistently win voters making less than the median—but the margin varies widely. In fact, whether Democrats win these voters by a 10-point or a 20-point margin tells you who won every national election for the past decade.

In 2004, Democrats won the working-class vote by 11 points; George W. Bush was reelected. In 2006, Democrats won the working-class vote by 22 points and took the House and Senate. In 2008, Democrats won by 22 points again, and President Obama was elected. In 2010, the margin narrowed to 11 points, and Republicans took the House back. In 2012, Obama was reelected—on the strength of another 22-point margin among voters making under $50,000.

 
Cornyn: Congress must act on border crisis before break

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, along with south Texas officials and law enforcement leaders discuss the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act at Mission City Hall Friday, July 18, 2014 in Mission, Texas. The HUMANE Act indeed provides accelerated processing for unaccompanied alien children from Central America. (AP Photo/The Monitor, Joel Martinez)  MAGS OUT; TV OUT

Cornyn: Congress must act on border crisis before break

By Jacqueline Klimas 

Sen. John Cornyn said Sunday that leaving for a five-week vacation without addressing the humanitarian crisis at the border would be a mistake.

“A solution beats no solution every day and nobody’s offered an alternative, so I hope we will act,” the Texas Republican said.

 
Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional

Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional

By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

A federal judge has declared that Washington D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns in public is unconstitutional and ordered a halt on its enforcement.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. said in a ruling made public Saturday that, in light of Supreme Court decisions that struck down near total bans on handguns in the District and Chicago in recent years, “there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

The judge said he would stop enforcing the ban until a more constitutionally sound law is put in place.

 
In Colorado, they’re pot tourists. Leave the state and they’re criminals.

Dispensary worker Carole Cross, 70, takes a puff at her home. (N. Kahn/Post)

In Colorado, they’re pot tourists. Leave the state and they’re criminals.

Marc Fisher

Legalized marijuana is good for jobs and tax revenue, but it’s filling jails and perplexing parents in nearby states.

An old man with a snow-white beard bounded into the double-wide trailer that houses the only pot shop in eastern Colorado. He wore bib overalls over a white T-shirt, and a huge grin. He was a farmer from Nebraska, and he was 78 years old. “How much can I get for $100?” he asked.

Ray — no last name, he said nervously — bought a couple of grams, went across the street to show his wife what he’d scored, and scurried back to the sales counter.

“Forget something?” asked the clerk, a schoolteacher who is spending the summer selling marijuana.

“More weed!” Ray squealed with glee.

He’s been smoking since he was 12, “and I will till the day I die,” he said, and now Ray was about to get back in his truck and drive his first legal purchase 322 miles east, back to his Nebraska farm. The trip would make him a criminal, because although recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado this year, it most assuredly is not on the other side of the state line.

 
Three Dicks: Cheney, Nixon, Richard III and the Art of Reputation Rehab

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Three Dicks: Cheney, Nixon, Richard III and the Art of Reputation Rehab

Men die but their reputations live, grow, and change as was the case 500 years ago and still today. 

You have to admire their nerve. This summer Dick Cheney, his wife Lynne and daughter Liz have embarked upon a sustained campaign of reputation rehabilitation. Invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do.” No apologies needed.

They are a united and defiant trio. They need to be. Barring a few co-conspirators from the neocon academy, nobody else is interested in supporting them. Even Fox News responded incredulously to Cheney’s assertion that the current collapse of Iraq was all Obama’s fault and had nothing to do with him.

The Cheneys exhibit indecent haste in their attempt at rep rehab. This is usually posthumous, left to historians. In the fullness of time it is possible to see beyond the fleeting moments of a life to a more balanced and complete picture. Records are combed, correspondence revealed, skeletons fall out of cupboards.

Unlike the Cheneys, here is a man ( Nixon ) whose misdemeanors came to torment him. And, eventually, who repented – famously on television during a remarkable series of interviews with David Frost. In that moment, when silent seconds go by as Frost waits and the camera moves into hard close-up, the former president reaches within himself and confesses that he let down the American people (and himself) by overseeing the Watergate break-in.

By no means is this cathartic. The impeachable crime is admitted but the guilt runs too deep to die so easily. And yet, from that moment on and for the rest his life Nixon saw his presidency reassessed, its achievements better understood when clear of the Watergate stain. Most notably we could see that this man, so petty and small-minded in his personal animosities, mentally crippled by grudges and perceived slights, had real presidential size in the big things, the biggest being his understanding that China could not be left in international limbo even though it was ideologically an adversary.

Nixon’s tragedy was partly to do with an irrational insecurity. He had no need of dirty tricks to win the 1972 election; there was nothing he could possibly learn from burgling the Democratic files that would have changed what turned out to be an astounding victory by winning 49 states. But he kept bad company. The Nixon tapes reveal a grisly gang of conspirators listening obediently to Nixon’s diatribes about people in his own service that he could not trust and about a legion of enemies, real or imagined, who had to be dealt with. Had Richard III been able to install a tape recorder in his palaces the ranting might well have been identical.

Yet as the opening to of China displayed Nixon’s historical literacy his domestic policy also gave him credentials that his own party would today find intolerable and today’s Democrats can only dream of. One act says it all: Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency. Concerned about dangerous pollution of the public water supply and the increasing toxicity of the air because of industrial emissions, Nixon believed that only one instrument was available to effectively counter the special interests of polluting business: the federal government.

These days the Republican base is so far to the right that nobody with Nixon’s belief in the role of government would be a viable candidate. In a new Republican administration, the EPA might well become an endangered species. Thus the extreme polarity of American politics has had the strange effect of transforming Nixon’s ideological reputation. Tricky Dicky is no more: he’s an exemplar of political moderation.

Nobody could say that about Dick Cheney. Perched up on the battlements in his cowboy hat, unrepentant and more and more choleric, he has even said that military budgets need replenishment whatever the cost. “Forget food stamps, repairing highways,” he snarls.

Only somebody with Cheney’s breathtaking historical and cultural illiteracy could have his degree of certitude that hard power is the only tool that can make America safe. Within days of 9/11 he was talking about a “crusade” to avenge the blow, without realizing how freighted that word was. This medieval mindset framed all of his subsequent actions. He has learned nothing and – even more alarming – regrets nothing. As a result, his rep rehab remains a lonely and futile mission.

 
Judge overturns D.C. ban on carrying handguns in public

Judge overturns D.C. ban on carrying handguns in public

Martin Weil and Clarence Williams

A federal judge has declared the law unconstitutional and ordered enforcement halted, but it’s unclear what immediate effect the ruling may have.

The ruling by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr., made public Saturday, orders the city to end its prohibition against carrying a pistol in public.

It was not clear Saturday night what immediate effect the order would have.

The order was addressed to the District of Columbia and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, as well as their employees and officers and others “who receive actual notice” of the ruling. But it could not be determined Saturday night who had received notice. Also unclear was whether the city would appeal and what effect that would have on the enforcement ban.

Legal sources said Saturday night that in general all parties to a case must be duly informed of a ruling and given the opportunity to appeal before it takes effect.

 
Did Immigration Sink Another Republican Candidate?

Immigration Sinks Another Republican

Jack Kingston's loss in the Georgia Senate primary is bad for reform—and for the GOP.

By Molly Ball

The political world was mildly surprised on Tuesday, when David Perdue—a billionaire former CEO and cousin of a former governor who has never held elected office—won the Republican nomination for Senate in a runoff in Georgia. Perdue was up against Jack Kingston, a longtime congressman from Savannah; Kingston had been ahead in every public poll since the first round of balloting back in May.

But on Election Day, Perdue narrowly prevailed, 51 percent to 49 percent. As upsets go, it was relatively minor—nothing on the order of Eric Cantor's shocking defeat in last month's primary in Virginia. But Kingston's loss may have had something in common with Cantor's: In both cases, a Republican candidate was rejected by primary voters after being accused of being soft on illegal immigration.

Cantor's loss—to a no-name opponent who, backed by talk radio, hammered him for supposedly supporting immigration reform—occasioned days of handwringing about its impact on policymaking. Immigration's role in Kingston's defeat has received less attention. In the final days of the campaign, Perdue ran a television ad attacking Kingston for his support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby that supports immigration reform and invested heavily in Kingston. "Kingston's largest backer, who has pumped almost $3 million into Kingston TV ads, is 100 percent, openly pro amnesty," the ad said. "Kingston now owes them big. Career politician Jack Kingston: Backed by amnesty supporters. Wrong for Georgia."

The ad was accurate but misleading: Kingston's position is that "there should be no amnesty for any individual who has crossed the border illegally." And while Kingston gladly accepted the support of the pro-reform Chamber, Perdue had also sought the Chamber's endorsement, unsuccessfully, leading the Chamber to proclaim the attack on Kingston mere "sour grapes."

As with Cantor, plenty of other factors played a role in the Georgia runoff. (Most postmortems on the race focused on Perdue's appeal as a political outsider, and Kingston's status as a 22-year member of Congress, in a political climate seen as hostile to Washington.) But given the closeness of the result, the late-breaking amnesty attack may well have pushed Perdue over the top. If so, it would be the second time this year that Republican base voters have risen up against a candidate seen as sympathetic to the business community's desire for immigration reform.

In the past, contrary to popular belief, support for immigration reform has seldom been toxic in Republican primaries. (A notable exception came four years ago in Georgia, when Nathan Deal ran to the right on immigration on the way to winning his gubernatorial primary and the governorship.) But the current crisis on the border has inflamed the perpetual hot-button issue, particularly among the vocal minority of the Republican base for whom the only acceptable "reform" is mass deportation. And candidates like Perdue are exploiting the issue as a wedge.

 
Grandson Proudly Squirms in Carter’s Footsteps

Grandson Proudly Squirms in Carter’s Footsteps

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

As the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia, Jason Carter has had to distance himself from many of the views of his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter.

Like many candidates, Jason Carter, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia, is courting the Jewish vote. But when Mr. Carter, a state senator, declared his “powerful connection” to Israel, it was more than a campaign sound bite.

It was a not-so-subtle attempt to distance himself from a man he has loved and admired since boyhood: his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter.

The former president’s views on Israel are not the only ones to make his grandson squirm. Of the elder Carter’s call to ban the death penalty, his grandson said, “I love my grandfather, but we disagree.” And when grandfather Carter offered to attend a campaign rally in Albany, Ga., not far from here, his grandson politely asked him to stay home.

“He wanted the people of southwest Georgia to see that he was a man of his own,” the former president said in an interview in his office, in a house where his mother, Lillian, once lived. Referring to his wife, he added, “He didn’t want the attention to be focused on me and Rosalynn.”

Political families — from the Roosevelts to the Kennedys, Bushes and Clintons — have long been a part of American politics. And they are not new in Georgia, where Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee for Senate, is running for a seat her father, Sam, once held against a Republican, David Perdue, whose cousin was governor. Mr. Carter’s bid to unseat Gov. Nathan Deal, the Republican incumbent, is testing the strength and durability of the Carter name in Georgia, a red state that Democrats hope to turn blue.

But it is also a test of something more: a deep bond between a 38-year-old grandson and an 89-year-old grandfather who, in the words of Roy E. Barnes, Georgia’s last Democratic governor, “would walk on fire to help get Jason elected.”

The elder Mr. Carter and his wife, regarded in the family as its sharpest political mind, have plunged into their grandson’s campaign. Mr. Carter has offered so much unsolicited advice (“Some of it is his famous micromanaging,” Senator Carter said) that strategists now include him on their daily email updates, even if some of his counsel seems dated.

 
Most Migrant Children Entering U.S. Are Now With Relatives, Data Show

A Border Patrol agent with a 13-year-old Salvadoran who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas.

A Border Patrol agent with a 13-year-old Salvadoran who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas.

Officials said more than half of all children initially placed in shelters have gone on to be reunited with at least one parent already living in the United States.

A total of 30,340 children have been released to sponsors — primarily parents and other relatives — from the start of the year through July 7, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has overseen the care of the children after they are turned over by Customs and Border Protection. More children have been released in Texas than in any other state, with sponsors there receiving 4,280 children, followed by New York with 3,347. Florida has received 3,181 children and California 3,150. Maryland and Virginia have each also received more than 2,200 children.

 
Has impeachment talk gone too far?

Has impeachment talk gone too far? 

By Mark Sappenfield

Both parties are openly talking about impeachment when, politically speaking, it's going nowhere. The chatter shows how impeachment – or at least talk of it – is evolving as a useful political tool.

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer had a lot to say about impeachment Friday, and in saying it, he said a lot about how the politics of impeachment are shifting.

Speaking to reporters at a Monitor Breakfast, Mr. Pfeiffer said that House Republicans' recent moves toward a lawsuit against President Obama open "the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future."

For the record, House Republicans haven't done anything to suggest they're going to impeach Mr. Obama. There's been some low-level chatter, true. But the very lawsuit Pfeiffer is talking about is seen by many analysts as House Speaker John Boehner's attempt to head off any push for impeachment by throwing a bone to the Republican base.

Later in the Monitor Breakfast, Pfeiffer circled back to the topic of impeachment in a different context. He said that if Obama uses his executive authority this year to ease deportations of some illegal immigrants – as he has vowed to do – that "will certainly up the likelihood that [Republicans] would contemplate impeachment at some point."

Pfeiffer's comments clearly reflect a political reality: Many conservatives would dearly love to see Obama impeached, and their conviction will only grow if Obama takes executive action on immigration reform this year.

 
Central Americans criticise US

Central Americans criticise US

Chris McGreal

Barack Obama (third left) speaks as Otto Perez Molina (second left) of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Herna

Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador tell Barack Obama US border policies are seriously harming their countries

Three Central American leaders met President Obama on Friday to tell him that billions of dollars poured into attempting to prevent migrant children crossing the US border would be better spent addressing the root causes of the crisis in their countries.

The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador urged the US administration to do more to combat the armed gangs and drug cartels responsible for the violence driving emigration that has seen more than 57,000 unaccompanied children from their countries arrive at the Texas border in recent months. The three leaders – Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador – urged the Obama administration to do more to address the destabilisation caused by cartels shipping narcotics to the American market, and to invest in more rapid economic development to relieve widespread poverty.

But in comments after the meeting, Obama stuck to Washington's emphasis on a campaign to discourage what the White House called "irregular migration" with publicity campaigns and the pursuit of people smugglers.

"I emphasised that the American people and my administration have great compassion for these children," he said. "But I also emphasised to my friends that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at risk."

 
Senate Report on CIA Interrogations Could Be Released Next Week

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Senate Report on CIA Interrogations Could Be Released Next Week

Soon the world will be able to read a redacted version of the Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques after 9/11 that caused a war between the CIA and the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 Josh Rogin

The report — the subject of a now-public feud between the CIA and the committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. — contains the final rounds of administration redactions. The White House, which has been trying to mediate the bickering, is set to give portions of the report back to the committee early next week, multiple officials said. The committee will then have one more opportunity to protest any redactions they don’t agree with before releasing selected excerpts to the public. The release is expected to include a long executive summary, a CIA response, and a dissent by the committee’s Republican minority staff.

Behind the scenes, Tenet has “quietly engineered a counterattack against the Senate committee’s voluminous report,” according to The New York Times, reflecting the CIA’s belief that their interests were not protected during the Committee’s long investigation and the White House’s mediation of the feud, which spilled out into public view when Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on her investigative staff.

Feinstein took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of monitoring staff performing the investigation and then removing sensitive and incriminating documents from the trove that the committee had access to, in an attempt to thwart the investigation.

The CIA accused Feinstein’s staff of printing out classified documents and taking them back to their Senate offices. Feinstein said that was done to keep them safe and ensure they were not destroyed. Among them was a series of documents called the “Internal Panetta Review.”

 
Ron Dermer: Israel’s Outspoken Envoy Is Wise to U.S. Ways

Israel’s Outspoken Envoy Is Wise to U.S. Ways

By JASON HOROWITZ

 As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Ron Dermer reluctantly accepted an assignment to argue that Israel should be condemned for its treatment of Palestinians.

“You’ll do it or I’ll flunk you,” his professor, the Republican pollster Frank Luntz, recalled telling Mr. Dermer, the quick-witted son of a prominent Miami Beach family. Mr. Dermer, barrel-chested and unrelenting, turned in such a passionate performance that Mr. Luntz declared him the debate’s victor. Mr. Dermer celebrated with a call to his Israeli-born mother.

“How did you do it?” Yaffa Dermer recalled asking incredulously.

“I lied,” Mr. Dermer said. “Like they do.”

More than two decades and a renounced American citizenship later, Mr. Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States, with such a close relationship to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been called “Bibi’s brain.” He is now at liberty to make a full-throated case for Israel.

Because of Mr. Dermer’s unabashed hawkishness and his role in organizing Mitt Romney’s 2012 visit to Israel, White House officials — including Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff — long resisted his appointment, according to people close to the administration. But in the renewed push last year for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended Mr. Dermer’s Passover Seder this spring, thought having a Netanyahu confidant close at hand would present an opportunity to sway the prime minister. 

 
Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago

** FILE ** President Barack Obama right, talks with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel left, as he walks off Air Force One after arriving at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, May 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago

By Kellan Howell - The Washington Times

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to open the city up to more immigrant children crossing the border illegally, with plans to open up shelters in the city to 1,000 minors by the end of the year. Mr. Emanuel’s office also plans to launch a “broad-based pro bono campaign,” using the city’s legal resources to council young immigrants.

“The influx of unaccompanied child migrants is a growing humanitarian crisis that we can no longer ignore,” Mr. Emanuel said in a statement, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

“While we have our own challenges at home, we cannot turn our backs on children that are fleeing dangerous conditions,” he said. “We will do or part to ensure that these children are given access to services and treated fairly and humanely,” the Tribune reported.

 
Russia’s message to the E.U.: Money talks

Russia’s message to the E.U.: Money talks

David Cameron, the British prime minister, led the attack: It would be “unthinkable” for the British to sell a warship to Russia, he declared. Almost immediately, the French president, François Hollande, confirmed his intention to do precisely that: He would, he said, deliver a Mistral amphibious assault ship to the Russian navy, as contracted — and then he hit back hard. “This is a false debate led by hypocrites,” one of his party colleagues declared. “When you see how many [Russian] oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own back yard.”

Which is worse? France sending Russia a ship that could be used against NATO allies in the Baltic or the Black Sea? Or Britain’s insistence on its right to launder Russian money through London’s financial markets? It was an amusing spat, not least because it plays into the stereotypes: Britain vs. France, crooked bankers vs. cynical politicians. The dispute dominated headlines as Europeans debated the right response to Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

But in some sense, it also disguises the real nature of Russian influence in Europe. For Russia’s strongest political influence is not in relatively large countries such as Britain or France, where at least these things are openly discussed, but rather in weaker countries that barely have a foreign policy debate at all.

None of this influence is a direct product of Russia’s size or wealth. Russia’s population of 142 million people is smaller than that of Nigeria or Pakistan, about the same as Britain and Germany combined, and its economy is about the same as Italy’s. The European Union, which contains 500 million people, sends only 7 percent of its exports to Russia. Though it sounds surprising, Germany now trades more with Poland than it does with ­Russia.

Nevertheless, Russia has political influence in Europe because of the nature of Moscow’s European business counterparts and partners: very large companies, usually connected to oil and gas, that make very large donations to political parties. Even taken altogether, 100,000 German traders and manufacturers doing business in Poland do not have the same clout as the chairman of E.ON Ruhrgas, which has deep Russian investments and investors. All of Italy’s wine and cheese exporters combined do not have the same voice in Italian politics as the chief executive of Eni, the Italian state gas company that is Russia’s biggest wholesale gas client. For that matter, the wishes of the saddened, angry Dutch victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash may not, in the end, matter as much to the Dutch government as the views of Royal Dutch Shell, which has major investments in Russia, although I hope this doesn’t prove to be true. 

 
No Drama Obama's Israel Ambivalence

No Drama Obama's Israel Ambivalence

The right says President Obama hates Israel, but in reality he’s just aloof and smug.

Conservatives have for several years wondered aloud about Barack Obama and his seemingly less-than-warm approach to Israel. Could it be, they asked themselves, that he’s an anti-Semite?

They should ask themselves instead how anyone as bored and aloof as Barack Obama could bother himself to hate anything.

Back in 2012, a “greybeard” member of the Republican establishment reportedly told AEI’s Danielle Pletka that Obama did, in fact, despise the Jewish state. Pletka made sure this person —“in every way a member of the establishment”—didn’t just mean Obama hated Benjamin Netanyahu. “No,” said the Republican. “He hates Israel.”

Pletka’s verdict on the president took a more measured stance. “Perhaps hate is too strong. But dislike strongly? I’ll buy that,” she wrote.

It’s hard to be sure what borderline hatred is. But it’s easy to understand what fellow conservative firebrand Ace of Spades meant when he tweeted that “Obama has a pretty good shot at topping the historians' lists of Most Chill Presidents.”

As Ron Fournier is in the habit of reporting, big time Democrats have reached just about the same conclusion. According to a House Dem whose endorsement gave Obama a much-needed boost in 2008, "He's bored and tired of being president, and our party is paying the price."

Barack Obama is not just over his presidency. When it comes to the outside world that has intruded so rudely on his pet domestic projects, he just. Can’t. Even. And The New York Times, as they say, is ON IT:

“Sometimes stretching into the small hours of the morning,” reports the Times, the president’s expansive, expensive dinner parties “reflect a restless president weary of the obligations of the White House and less concerned about the appearance of partying with the rich and celebrated. Freewheeling, with conversation touching on art, architecture and literature, the gatherings are a world away from the stilted meals Mr. Obama had last year with Senate Republican leaders at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.”

This is not a guy who despises Israel. He’s a guy who resents being distracted.

 
Blue Crush: How the left took over the Democratic Party.

Blue Crush: How the left took over the Democratic Party.

From 2000 to 2008, no one did more to unite the Democratic Party than George W. Bush. But Democrats haven’t fallen apart in the years since Bush exited the political stage. Instead, President Barack Obama has maintained their cohesion thanks in large part to his personal popularity with the base, unrelenting Republican opposition and strong Democratic congressional leadership. But simmering beneath the surface of this united front is an ascendant progressive and populist movement that is on the verge of taking over the party.

The very forces that have held the Democratic Party together are forestalling the takeover. Many of Obama’s most enthusiastic supporters have been loath to criticize him publicly—even when the president’s idea of “change you can believe in” hasn’t matched up with his campaign promises. As long as the party is defined and controlled by the sitting president, these progressive impulses will remain somewhat muted.

The lead-in to the 2016 presidential campaign could force a tipping point as early as next year if Hillary Clinton declines to run and a broad field emerges. If that happens, candidates will feel a great deal of pressure to appeal to the highly engaged, energized and well-funded activists who have been clamoring for a robust progressive agenda. Even if Clinton runs, her candidacy won’t preempt the party’s eventual takeover by the activist forces. It will only slow it down. Candidate Clinton, who appears to have the overwhelming support of the activist base, will nevertheless feel pressure from the left to pursue a more economically populist approach to solving our country’s problems.

And now, with the left lining up around a Clinton candidacy, the activist base will continue to make incremental progress toward assuming control of the Democratic Party. Absent any countervailing forces that have yet to emerge, there won’t be the same kind of intra-party battles between liberals and moderates that took place in the 1970s and 80s. Those conflicts were finally resolved in the ‘90s when Bill Clinton brought together the competing forces that had divided the Democrats and alienated swing voters since the 1960s, largely by focusing on improving the lives of the middle class while not betraying the core values of the party.

But Hillary Clinton will take control of a different party than her husband did because Democratic activists and elected officials have only become more liberal over the last two decades.

 
Governors chafe at quiet dispersion of child border crossers

Governors chafe at quiet dispersion of child border crossers

Governors are learning secondhand that some of the unaccompanied child border crossers are being sent to their states to live during deportation proceedings. Some are not happy at the lack of communication or coordination.

By Patrik Jonsson

 Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is hardly alone in his complaints Friday that the Obama administration is sending child migrants in the country illegally to small towns and cities without notifying state authorities – a scenario that Governor Haslam says “creates confusion and could be very problematic.”

Gov. Chris Christie (R) of New Jersey said US border authorities releasing captured migrant children to relatives who themselves are in the US illegally is “illogical,” and Gov. Phil Bryant (R) of Mississippi charged that an “overreaching federal government” was involved in “covert immigration practices.”

A gaggle of governors and lawmakers, primarily from conservative states, has begun to complain more loudly in the past week about the mostly quiet transferral in the past nine months of some 30,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) from the border to all 50 states. Texas, California, and the Washington metro area have received the most children.

 
Gaza ceasefire reveals full extent of Israeli destruction

Gaza ceasefire reveals full extent of Israeli destruction

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

Palestinian women react to the destruction in Beit Hanuon, northern Gaza Strip, during the ceasefire

Palestinians appear dazed by damage as they check homes, retrieve possessions and search for bodies.

As the Palestinian death toll in the 19-day-long conflict topped 1,000, diplomatic efforts to forge a longer ceasefire continued in Paris. Foreign ministers from seven nations – the US, France, Britain, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Qatar – called for an extension of Saturday's 12-hour humanitarian truce.

The group had convened, along with a senior EU representative, at the request of the US secretary of state, John Kerry, who failed to win Israeli or Hamas backing for a week-long truce on Friday. There were no envoys from Israel, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority.

Many of those attempting to check the condition of their homes, retrieve possessions and, in some cases, search for the bodies of relatives seemed dazed by what they found. Some who had not seen each other for days embraced as they surveyed the wreckage around them. Ambulances with wailing sirens and donkey carts loaded with mattresses and pots clogged the streets.

In other areas, Palestinians rushed to stock up with food and essentials, and get cash from banks and ATMs, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which starts on Monday.

In Beit Hanoun, close to the border, Israeli tanks stood by as people searched through the debris for their belongings, packing whatever they could – blankets, furniture and clothes – into taxis, trucks, rickshaws and carts before fleeing the town.

Siham Kafarneh, 37, sat weeping on the steps of a small grocery store. The mother of eight said the home she had spent 10 years saving up for and moved into two months earlier had been destroyed. "Nothing is left. Everything I have is gone," she said.

Some people were defiant. One woman pulled a black-and-white Palestinian scarf from the rubble, shouting: "They won't take away our pride. We'll wear this to Jerusalem and the day of victory is close."

Others were resigned. Zaki al-Masri noted quietly that both his house and that of his son had been destroyed. "The Israelis will withdraw, tomorrow or the day after, and we'll be left in this awful situation as usual."

 
Obama Plans To Put 30,000 Illegal Immigrants Into American Classrooms

 Neil Munro

This photo, taken this month, shows a Border Patrol holding cell filled with migrant unaccompanied minors in Texas. (Photo: Center for Immigration Studies)

American kids and teenagers will be sharing their already-crowded classrooms with tens of thousands of ill-educated Central American migrants this fall, because President Obama is distributing perhaps 100,000 Central American migrants across the country.

The Central American student “have very, very limited amounts of education [and] in some cases, they cannot count to 10,” said Caroline Woodason, assistant director for student support at the public schools in Dalton, Ga. “They can’t turn on a computer. They’ve never even seen a computer,” she told the Dalton Daily Citizen.

In Fairfax, Va., “teachers [are] dealing with children not just learning English but years below expected grade/achievement level,” education specialist Robin Hamby, told The Washington Post. In early 2014, her district already had 5,192 Central American students, up 22 percent since 2011.

In Lynn, Mass., the foreign youths “are not literate in any language,” said Catherine Latham, the superintendent of schools. “The school system is overwhelmed, our health department is overwhelmed,” she told Fox News in Boston.

“There’s no way a [foreign] child is going to be able to come to school ready and able to learn if we don’t address some of the other issues they’re facing,” such as an upbringing in a violent culture, Debra Duardo, executive director for human services for the huge Los Angeles Unified School District, told the Chicago Tribune.

 
Julie McMahon: Bill Clinton's 'Energiser'?

Mother-of-three Julie McMahon, who lives just minutes from the Clintons, is suspected of being the 'Energizer'; and her friendship with with Clinton has been the subject of media speculation for years

Bill Clinton's 'Energiser'?

Is this society blonde the 'Energiser' who's been one of Bill Clinton's secret lovers for 13 years?

By Tom Leonard

She always arrives in an SUV, sometimes staying for a few hours, sometimes as long as a week — just so long as the lady of the house is away.

And, thanks to the fact that the house in question — the palatial residence of Bill and Hillary Clinton — is protected by a squad of U.S. Secret Servicemen who are in on the deception, the attractive, busty blonde can time her arrivals and departures to within minutes of those of Mrs Clinton.

The bodyguards claim they don’t know her identity, but say they are under orders neither to stop nor approach her, but to let her in. She does, however, have a codename. Every member of a family protected by the Secret Service, responsible for guarding presidents and ex-presidents, is given a codename starting with the same letter. 

Given that Bill Clinton is ‘Eagle’ and Mrs Clinton is ‘Evergreen’, the special visitor was dubbed ‘Energiser’ in a rare moment of levity by the men in the mirror sunglasses.

So who could the Energiser be? One candidate, I discovered this week, is attractive divorcee, rich socialite and mother-of-three Julie McMahon, who lives just five miles from the Clintons.

Her friendship with Clinton has been the subject of sporadic, if little-noticed, media speculation for years.

The daughter of Joel Tauber, a multi-millionaire backer of the Democratic party and friend of the Clintons, she reportedly met the former president in 1998 when he was still in office, after her father let him use the family’s $25 million Colorado mansion.

They were said to have instantly hit it off, but it was claimed their relationship became intimate shortly after the Clintons left the White House and moved to her neighbourhood in 2001.

Miss McMahon had by then divorced her husband, John McMahon, a director of Goldman Sachs, from whom she had been separated for three years. It was alleged she and a ‘lonely’ Clinton would sneak to each other’s houses, sometimes at night.

They would even meet abroad, it was said, with Miss McMahon conveniently turning up in London or Paris at the same time as Clinton. Miss McMahon, 54, publicly denied they were having an affair in 2008, but her name resurfaced two years later in Game Change, an account of the 2008 presidential election.

The book named her among a long list of women, including a ‘dishy’ Canadian MP and the Hollywood actress  Gina Gershon, whose rumoured friendships with Clinton were alarming Democrat grandees.

According to Game Change’s authors, investigations by Mrs Clinton’s aides discovered that the rumours about one particular woman were true and ‘that Bill was indeed having an affair — and not a frivolous one-night stand, but a sustained, romantic relationship’.

 
Israel Agrees to 12-Hour Pause on Its Offensive Into Gaza

Israel Agrees to 12-Hour Pause on Its Offensive Into Gaza

By ISABEL KERSHNER and MICHAEL R. GORDON 

The announcement by the Israeli military came amid intense international efforts for a broader cease-fire. The military said it would continue its efforts to locate and destroy tunnels used by Hamas. According to Israeli news media, Hamas also agreed to the initial 12-hour lull. The military’s statement also said that its efforts to locate and destroy tunnels used by Hamas would continue. It added that Gaza civilians who had been asked to evacuate their homes should refrain from returning and that the military would respond if its forces or Israeli civilians came under fire.

 
Chris McDaniel’s last hopes hinge on nine more votes -- in a courtroom

Chris McDaniel’s last hopes hinge on nine more votes -- in a courtroom

Philip Bump 

Evaluating the McDaniel campaign’s end-game.

The quixotic and seemingly eternal crusade from Chris McDaniel, second-place finisher in Mississippi's Republican Senate primary, actually does have an end game in mind. Once the campaign's collection of evidence is complete -- the date of which was pushed out again on Friday -- his supporters expect the case to go before a jury in Mississippi circuit court. Then, all it takes is the votes of nine Mississippians, and the state will have itself a third election to decide who will represent it in the Senate.

 
Israel rejects call for pause in fighting

Israel rejects call for pause in fighting

Gaza

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Ian Black and Patrick Kingsley in Cairo 

Binyamin Netanyhau's ministers turn down 'humanitarian pause' plan on day death toll reaches 822

Israel's cabinet has unanimously rejected a US-backed proposal for a week-long "humanitarian pause" in the offensive on Gaza after 18 days of fighting that has claimed more than 800 Palestinian lives.

Binyamin Netanyhau and his ministers reached their decision on a day when Gaza's death toll reached 822 and five more Palestinians were killed in protests that spread to the West Bank. Hamas had already signalled its opposition to the terms of the US plan, which it deemed too favourable to Israel.

The Israeli decision, reported by Israel's Channel 2 TV, left the US secretary of state, John Kerry, struggling to find a way to continue his efforts to halt the bloodshed.

Unrwa, the UN refugee agency, said 150,000 people were now seeking shelter.

Militants again fired rockets out of Gaza, triggering sirens across southern and central Israel, including at the country's main airport. No injuries were reported, with the Iron Dome interceptor system knocking out many of the missiles.

Kerry spent the day holding talks and working the phones in Cairo in an atmosphere of what officials described as "cautious optimism" about the outcome of efforts to secure a truce.

Parallel contacts, between Turkey and the Hamas leader, Khaled Mishal, were also taking place in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Mishal has insisted on an end to the siege of Gaza; Israel on an end to cross-border attacks. The gap between the two sides is wide.

Israel army radio reported that Netanyahu's ministers had been divided over the wisdom of accepting Kerry's proposal, which was being supported by the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon. Hawkish ministers were said to favour widening the ground operation in Gaza and warning against any gain for Hamas. Under the US plan, Israeli troops could stay behind after a ceasefire to continue destroying cross-border tunnels. The week-long truce would be followed by talks on more permanent arrangements, under Egyptian supervision.

 
Compassionate Conservatism Is Back

Compassionate Conservatism Is Back

Republicans are trying to borrow from George W. Bush, but is that really going to work?

By Peter Beinart

Over the past two decades, since the 1992 presidential election, Republican politics has followed a cycle. It goes like this:

Stage One: A Democrat wins the presidency and expands the size of government.

Stage Two: Republicans mobilize to prevent big government from destroying the American way of life.

Stage Three: Republicans take Congress.

Stage Four: Congressional Republicans battle the Democratic president over the size of government. They cut spending and reduce the deficit, but in the process become wildly unpopular.

Stage Five: The Democratic president uses the unpopularity of the Republican Congress to help win reelection.

Stage Six: Republican presidential candidates ditch their assault on big government and become compassionate conservatives.

We’re now back at Stage Six.

 
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