With Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump is building his reelection campaign around the same brand of nativism that energized tens of millions of aggrieved whites and got him elected in 2016. Because of the verities of the electoral college, there is a body of evidence that suggests doubling down on an agenda of exclusion will work in 2020. But three new polls also pinpoint fault lines within the GOP on the immigration issue that the president’s opponents might capitalize on – if they’re able to figure out how to swim against the leftward rip current that threatens to drown the eventual Democratic nominee.
-- A Gallup poll released this morning shows growing support for allowing refugees from Central America into the United States. In December, 51 percent of Americans approved of accepting refugees from the countries in the Northern Triangle, which refers to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Now it’s 57 percent. Democrats remain overwhelmingly supportive – more than 8 in 10 say America’s doors should be open – but the number of Republicans who say they want to take in Central American refugees has risen from 14 percent to 24 percent. Approval among independents also increased from 52 percent in December to 58 percent today.
“Support for allowing Central American refugees entry is now higher than Gallup has found for most refugee cases it has polled on historically, including Syrian refugees in 2015 as well as stretching back to refugees from the German Holocaust in the 1930s and 40s,” said Gallup analyst Justin McCarthy. “If support for Central American refugee entry continues to increase, this could jeopardize Trump's immigration-related initiatives.”
While 52 percent of Republicans surveyed by Gallup say that what’s happening at our southern border is a “crisis” – Trump’s preferred word – another 36 percent say it’s more appropriate to characterize what’s going on as “a major problem.”
-- A Pew Research Center poll published yesterday afternoon shows that, while there is overwhelming support on the right for reducing the total number of people coming into the United States from Central America, 37 percent of Republicans want to make it easier for those who are seeking asylum from those countries to be granted legal status. As a reminder, asylum seekers are legal immigrants who are seeking to enter the United States on the grounds that their lives are in danger if they stay in their native land.
A sizable 44 percent minority of Republicans said that the Trump administration is doing a bad job at dealing with the increased number of asylum seekers at the border. The majority, 55 percent, said the government is doing a good job. As a point of comparison, 84 percent of Democrats agree that the government is doing a bad job. (Across the board, Trump’s immigration policies continue to be overwhelmingly, sometimes close to unanimously, unpopular among Democrats.)
-- Quinnipiac University’s most recent national poll found that 42 percent of Republicans believe that the conditions in immigration detention centers at the southern border are a serious problem, while 43 percent do not think so. Another 14 percent are not sure. Overall, 68 percent of respondents in the poll – released the week before last – said the conditions are a serious problem and 23 percent said they are not. The Q-poll found that 49 percent of Republicans believe immigration is good for the country while 32 percent say it’s bad. Overall, 70 percent of Americans think immigration is a net positive while 17 percent – mostly Republicans – think it’s bad.
-- In other notable dividing lines, the Pew poll found that a 51 percent majority of Republicans want the federal government to provide more assistance to the countries in Central America where most of the asylum seekers are coming from. This could help alleviate some of the underlying problems that are prompting so many people to embark on the dangerous journey north. But Trump has pushed relentlessly to cut this aid. Experts warn that this may exacerbate the already terrible conditions on the ground and thereby make the U.S. an even stronger magnet for the folks he wants to deter.
-- On three questions posed by the Pew poll, Republicans were split on the character of undocumented immigrants: They are almost evenly divided on the question of whether undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit serious crimes than U.S. citizens, with 49 percent saying they are and 46 percent saying they’re not. Trump has peddled the false narrative that immigrants writ large are more violent, and the prime-time hosts on Fox News have abetted him in this, but several studies have shown that’s not the case.
While 42 percent of Republicans say that undocumented immigrants are not as honest and hard-working as U.S. citizens, 54 percent say they are just as honest and hard-working – if not more so.
While 64 percent of Republicans say undocumented immigrants mostly fill jobs that U.S. citizens don’t want to do, 32 percent say they’re taking away jobs that U.S. citizens would be willing to do if they had the chance.
-- Bigger picture, the Pew poll found that 40 percent of Americans say they agree with the Democratic Party’s approach to “illegal immigration” and 39 percent say they agree with the Republican Party’s. The rest – 1 in 5 U.S. adults – say they disagree with both parties. Three in 4 Republicans say they generally agree with their party’s approach to “illegal immigration,” the term used by the pollsters, but stark differences emerged when the pollsters drilled into details and asked about specifics.
Republican partisans have moved Trump’s direction somewhat in their general attitudes toward immigration, a reflection of the power of any president’s bully pulpit and the potency of this president’s anti-immigration fixation. In March 2017, soon after Trump took office, Pew found 61 percent of Republicans believed there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally if certain requirements are met. That’s slipped to 54 percent in the poll released yesterday. Now, 45 percent of Republicans say undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to stay here. Democratic views are unchanged: About 9 in 10 of them supported a path to citizenship then and still do now.
“In a follow-up question, most of those who are against a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants say they would support a national law enforcement effort to deport all immigrants who are now living in the U.S. illegally,” Pew’s pollsters write in a note accompanying their data. “Overall, 23% of the public opposes legal status for undocumented immigrants and supports a national effort to deport all immigrants living in the country illegally. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 42% – including nearly half (49%) of conservative Republicans -- would support an effort to deport all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.”
-- To be sure, there is an undeniable constituency inside the GOP for treating migrants with some degree of cruelty, but they are in the minority. For example, just over a quarter of Republicans in the Pew poll do not think it is important for the federal government to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers. Another 41 percent of Republicans say it’s “somewhat” important that people get safe and sanitary conditions while in U.S. government custody, and 32 percent say it’s very important. For context, more than 90 percent of Democrats say it’s important that asylum seekers receive access to safe and sanitary conditions.
The federal government is required under a consent decree to provide “safe and sanitary” conditions to migrant children. But a Justice Department lawyer argued during a June court hearing, which went viral, that the federal government is not legally required to provide toothbrushes, soap or towels to fulfill that requirement because those amenities were not explicitly mentioned in the 1997 agreement.
MORE FROM THE FRONT LINES ON THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Immigrants who live legally in the United States and use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — could find it harder to get a green card under a policy change unveiled yesterday by the Trump administration. Abigail Hauslohner, Nick Miroff, Maria Sacchetti and Tracy Jan report: “The new criteria for ‘Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,’ due to take effect Oct. 15, will set stricter standards for applicants seeking legal permanent residency in the United States, criteria that will skew the process in favor of the highly skilled, high-income immigrants Trump covets. … ‘Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,’ said acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli. …
“Analysts say the public charge change could dramatically reduce family-based legal immigration to the United States, particularly from Latin America and Africa, where incomes are generally lower than the rest of the world. It also could lead to an increase in deportations, as those present with some form of provisional or temporary immigration status in the United States are denied legal residency. … Advocates for immigrants say the new rule could narrow the pool of people who are eligible for green cards, which are necessary to get on the path to U.S. citizenship, effectively blocking immigrants who live in poverty from having a chance at naturalization. … Cuccinelli said the change would benefit U.S. taxpayers by selecting better candidates for U.S. citizenship.”
-- “Trump’s claim that he supports legal immigration turns out to be a lie,” Eugene Robinson writes in his column: “Long advocated by White House adviser Stephen Miller, the Torquemada of the immigration inquisition, the new policy is a major step in Trump’s crusade to Make America White Again. If it survives court challenges, the new rule could dramatically reduce legal — I repeat, legal — immigration from low-income countries. Not just coincidentally, I am sure, this means fewer black and brown people would be granted resident status. Trump’s message to the world: Keep your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. As he memorably and disgracefully put it: ‘Our Country is FULL!’”
-- Our Arelis Hernández got a glimpse inside the Central Processing Center, the Border Patrol’s largest holding facility, where nearly 1,300 migrants wait to be released, deported or transferred: “Unaccompanied children are separated by gender and kept in distinct pens, where they have access to crackers, juice and chips. A television runs programming for all hours except mealtimes, and they can choose to don provided sweatpants, T-shirts and shoes. ‘Children are held on average about 26 hours in custody,’ said Oscar Escamilla, acting deputy Border Patrol agent-in-charge, who led a brief tour through the center … During the tour, journalists were not permitted to talk to the migrants in custody, and most shied away from the cameras. Many retreated deeper within their pens and turned away. …
“Parents with children are held in separate enclosures, where dozens of men and women sat on metal benches or laid across gym mats on the concrete floor. … Tired men bounced little boys on their knees, children munched on apples and others hid beneath blankets in the cell adjacent to a play area with a plastic playpen and a few toys … Inside each section of cells, a guard monitors camera footage and keeps watch from a small tower elevated about eight feet from the ground. … Between each holding area is a sanitation station containing about a dozen portable toilets and sinks that are cleaned twice a day. There was no escaping the foul stench of days of accumulated dirt, sweat and waste.”
-- That U.S. Border Patrol agent who intentionally rammed his truck into a Guatemalan migrant in 2017, and referred in text messages to migrants as “subhuman” and “mindless murdering savages,” got a plea deal that allowed him to accept guilt for a single misdemeanor charge. From the New York Times: “The agent, Matthew Bowen, who was stationed in Nogales, will face up to one year in prison and could be fined $100,000 when he is sentenced on Oct. 15 for deprivation of rights under color of law, according to the plea agreement. Mr. Bowen also said in the plea agreement that he would resign from the Border Patrol. He was suspended in June 2018.”
- “I intentionally struck him with an unreasonable amount of force,” Bowen writes in his plea agreement that was filed with the court, adding that his actions were “not justified” and violated the rights of the migrant.
- Read more on his texts. I cited this case as one of several examples of the Border Patrol’s broader cultural problems in a Big Idea last month.
-- Guatemala’s new president-elect, Alejandro Giammattei, could stir up trouble for Trump on the immigration front. From CNN: “Giammattei has been outspoken in his opposition to a migration deal that his predecessor, Jimmy Morales, signed with the United States last month. … When does this deal come into force? Signed hastily by the outgoing administration, it has already been opposed by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court, who ruled its Congress has to decide on any safe third country agreements. But it is scheduled to come into effect in mid-August -- unless of course Giammattei sticks to his word and blocks it. But there's a catch: Guatemala's elite. They also have an outsized view, likely heard in the country's corridors of power. The prospect of Trump's wrath -- he has already cut aid to the economically troubled nation, and flatly threatened destructive tariffs if the deal isn't put into force -- will trouble them.”
-- The migrant crisis is moving south, to Mexican border towns, as a result of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. From NPR: “A month ago, if you came to the sun-blasted plaza in Matamoros, Mexico, at the foot of the International Bridge, it would have been full of asylum-seekers waiting to be let into America. They were haggard, but there was hope in their faces. Today they're still here, lying about dejectedly, seeking shade from the brutal summer heat, and they're gloomy about their fate.”
-- But others keep coming: One person is missing after U.S. officials rescued 14 people from the Rio Grande. Three other people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and the other 11 members of the group remain in custody. (CNN)
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Numerous women accuse opera legend Plácido Domingo of pressuring them into sexual relationships and punishing them professionally when they refused his advances. From the AP: “Eight singers and a dancer have told the AP that they were sexually harassed by the long-married, Spanish-born superstar in encounters that took place over three decades beginning in the late 1980s, at venues that included opera companies where he held top managerial positions. One accuser said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt and three others said he forced wet kisses on their lips — in a dressing room, a hotel room and at a lunch meeting. … The AP also spoke to almost three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator who said they witnessed inappropriate sexually tinged behavior by Domingo and that he pursued younger women with impunity. ...
“Two of the women said they briefly gave in to Domingo’s advances, feeling they couldn’t risk jeopardizing their careers by saying no to the most powerful man in their profession. One of them said she had sex with him twice, including at the Biltmore hotel in Los Angeles. When Domingo left for a performance, the woman said, he put $10 on the dresser, saying, 'I don’t want you to feel like a prostitute, but I also don’t want you to have to pay to park.' … She said the superstar mentioned his ‘superstition that he had to be with a woman before a show’ to help him relax and calm his nerves. … She cut off physical contact after the second encounter, a move she is convinced derailed her career at LA Opera. ... Seven of the nine accusers told the AP they feel their careers were adversely impacted after rejecting Domingo’s advances. ...
“Domingo did not respond to detailed questions from the AP about specific incidents, but issued a statement saying: ‘The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate. Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable — no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions.'”
THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- The Trump administration took its final step to weaken the Endangered Species Act of 1973, a bedrock law that brought the bald eagle, the American alligator, the California condor, the humpback whale and the grizzly bear back from the brink of extinction. Darryl Fears reports: “New rules will allow the administration to reduce the amount of habitat set aside for wildlife and remove tools that officials use to predict future harm to species as a result of climate change. It would also reveal for the first time in the law’s 45-year history the financial costs of protecting them. The long-anticipated changes, jointly announced by the Interior and Commerce departments, were undertaken as part of President Trump’s mandate to scale back government regulations on corporations, including the oil and gas industry, that want to drill on protected land.
“Within hours of Monday’s announcement, the state attorneys general of California and Massachusetts joined a conservation group, Defenders of Wildlife, in declaring the changes illegal and vowing to challenge them in court. In May, a U.N. report on world biodiversity found that 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival. The report, written by seven experts from universities around the world, directly linked the loss of species to human activity and showed how those losses are undermining food and water security, along with human health. More plants and animals are threatened with extinction now than at any other period in human history, the report said.
“Under the administration’s new rules, it would have been nearly impossible to designate the polar bear as threatened in 2010 because of the loss of sea ice in the Arctic, one of the fastest-warming areas in the world. Nearly 200,000 square miles of barrier islands in Alaska were listed as critical habitat. Officials relied on climate models to predict how warming would impact polar bear habitat more than 80 years into the future. The new rules called such predictions into doubt and said officials can now only determine impacts in what it described, vaguely, as the ‘foreseeable future.’ … In responses to comments submitted to the proposed rule changes, administration officials argued that they were not discounting climate science, only asserting that climate projections were uncertain.
“The new rules would also limit the area of land that can be protected to help species recover and survive. Currently, land that plants and animals occupy is set aside for their protection, in addition to areas that they once occupied or might need in the future. Now, critical habitat that is not occupied might not be protected, opening it up for oil and gas exploration or other forms of development.” Don’t kid yourself: That’s the whole point of this. It’s all about extraction.
-- Extreme climate change has arrived in America. Steven Mufson, Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin and John Muyskens report from Lake Hopatcong, N.J.: “Before climate change thawed the winters of New Jersey, this lake hosted boisterous wintertime carnivals. As many as 15,000 skaters took part, and automobile owners would drive onto the thick ice. … In those days before widespread refrigeration, workers flocked here to harvest ice. They would carve blocks as much as two feet thick, float them to giant ice houses, sprinkle them with sawdust and load them onto rail cars bound for ice boxes in New York City and beyond. ‘These winters do not exist anymore,’ says Marty Kane, a lawyer and head of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. That’s because a century of climbing temperatures has changed the character of the Garden State. The massive ice industry and skate sailing association are but black-and-white photographs at the local museum. … New Jersey may seem an unlikely place to measure climate change, but it is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Its average temperature has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states. …
“Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. … A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark. … To find the world’s 2C hot spots, its fastest-warming places, The Post analyzed temperature databases, including those kept by NASA and NOAA; peer-reviewed scientific studies; and reports by local climatologists. The global data sets draw upon thousands of land-based weather stations and other measurements, such as ocean buoys armed with sensors and ship logs dating as far back as 1850. In any one geographic location, 2 degrees Celsius may not represent global cataclysmic change, but it can threaten ecosystems, change landscapes and upend livelihoods and cultures.”
-- A friend of the Dayton shooter bought him body armor and helped him assemble his weapon, the FBI said. Mark Berman reports: “Those details were included in a criminal complaint charging the friend — Ethan Kollie, 24 — with two counts related to his purchase and possession of firearms. Neither count relates to the shooting itself. Benjamin C. Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, stressed that while the charges emerged from the investigation into the Dayton shooting, they included no suggestion that Kollie knowingly played a role in plotting the attack. ‘Mr. Kollie does not stand accused of intentionally participating in the planning of that shooting,’ Glassman said at a news briefing. ‘We have no evidence of that. There’s no allegation of that.’ … Jail records showed that Kollie was arrested Friday evening, the same day the criminal complaint was filed. Kollie was charged with possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance and making a false statement regarding firearms.”
-- A fourth member of the National Rifle Association’s board resigned amid upheaval. Tom Hamburger reports: “Professional sport shooter Julie Golob, a regular on shooting shows who has won multiple competitions and is an advocate for women’s use of firearms, did not state a reason for her departure in a note posted on her website. ‘I am proud to have had the opportunity to represent the members of the NRA but I can no longer commit to fulfilling the duties of a director,’ she wrote. … The NRA has a 76-member board of directors, most of whom continue to defend the current NRA leadership, which has been under siege in recent months.”
-- Attorney General Bill Barr lashed out against the “failure” of federal prison officials to keep Jeffrey Epstein alive. Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner report: “Barr’s comments underscored the increasing scrutiny on the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where Epstein, 66, was found hanging in his cell on Saturday. … Barr made clear, too, that federal prosecutors’ investigation of those who might have facilitated Epstein’s alleged sex abuse of minors will continue, even if Epstein can no longer be prosecuted. Epstein was in jail awaiting a trial on new federal sex trafficking charges. … Speaking to law enforcement officials in New Orleans, the country’s top law enforcement official said he ‘was appalled . . . and, frankly, angry’ to learn of the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s ‘failure to adequately secure’ Epstein.”
-- “The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People,” from the Times’s James Stewart: “Almost exactly a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2018, I visited Jeffrey Epstein at his cavernous Manhattan mansion. The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use. So one of my first thoughts on hearing of Mr. Epstein’s suicide was that many prominent men and at least a few women must be breathing sighs of relief that whatever Mr. Epstein knew, he has taken it with him.”
-- Nearly 35 billion opioids — half of the pills distributed in the country — were handled by just 15 percent of pharmacies. Jenn Abelson, Andrew Ba Tran, Beth Reinhard and Aaron C. Davis report: “With the release and analysis of a federal database tracking every pain pill sold in the United States at the height of the opioid crisis, one Clinton County pharmacy has come into sharp focus: Shearer Drug [in Albany, Ky.] … The family-run pharmacy purchased nearly 6.8 million pills that contained hydrocodone and oxycodone from 2006 through 2012 — enough to give 96 pills each year to every person in the county of roughly 10,000 residents. During this period, Shearer Drug procured more opioid pills on a per capita basis per county than any other retail pharmacy in the United States … Shearer Drug is among thousands of small, independent pharmacies — from Smith County Drug Center in Carthage, Tenn., to Zion Pharmacy in Kanab, Utah — that handled large volumes of hydrocodone and oxycodone from 2006 through 2012 and until now have largely avoided publicity for their roles in the epidemic. … Some of the pharmacies reviewed by The Post have had trouble with regulators or law enforcement, but for others there is no public record of any scrutiny by authorities.”
-- If you want to know how many pain pills went to your pharmacy, a team of Post reporters and designers created a searchable database that you can find here.
-- In an op-ed for the Times, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called on the Senate to abolish the filibuster in all its forms, saying it is “suffocating” the will of the American people: “If a Democratic president wants to tackle the most important issues facing our country, then he or she must have the ability to do so — and that means curtailing Republicans’ ability to stifle the will of the American people. It’s time to allow a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote threshold now required for legislation. When the American people demand change and elect a new Senate, a new majority leader must be able to respond to that call and pass legislation. The list of issues stalled by the Senate filibuster is enormous — and still growing.”
-- The U.S. budget deficit is up 27 percent — another $119.7 billion — meaning it is inching closer to hitting $1 trillion. From CNBC: “That brings the fiscal year deficit through July to $866.8 billion, a little over a year and a half after the Trump administration ushered through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that the White House has vowed would pay for itself. At this point last year, the deficit was $684 billion.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Protesters reoccupied the Hong Kong airport today, disrupting flights for a second day of demonstrations. Gerry Shih and Timothy McLaughlin report: “After mass cancellations the previous evening, flights had been gradually returning to normal throughout Tuesday, though still with disruptions, as thousands of black-clad demonstrators sat in the terminal with placards denouncing police brutality and calling for freedom for Hong Kong. But by early evening, with protesters using luggage carts as barricades and blocking departing passengers, airport authorities said they were ‘temporarily suspending’ check-in at both terminals. Arguments erupted between passengers and protesters, with some passengers crying and saying they just wanted to get home. …
“Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, said the city risked being ‘pushed into an abyss.’ As the summer of unrest rolls on, the situation is becoming increasingly tense. Statements from Chinese government officials and state media have grown steadily more shrill, accusing protesters of ‘terrorism’ and warning of an impending crackdown in the semiautonomous financial center.”
-- The Post’s Editorial Board calls on Chinese President Xi Jinping to open serious negotiations with the protesters on their demands, which it calls quite reasonable: “Cinching the noose ever tighter, as the Chinese government has done in recent weeks, is the pathway to a dead end that could harm both Hong Kong and mainland China economically as well as politically. A cliff looms, and China’s leaders should turn back before it is too late.”
-- Big brands are apologizing to China for identifying the semiautonomous territory — and other Chinese-claimed lands as independent countries. Jennifer Hassan and Anna Fifield report: “From Versace to Givenchy, brands have swiftly offered apologies to China over their references to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao on their websites and on items of clothing. The online backlash and calls to boycott the brands come at a highly sensitive time for China, with Hong Kong rocked by protests — which kicked off in June — over concerns that Beijing is encroaching on the territory’s autonomy.”
-- Stocks dipped on fears that Trump's trade war could hasten a looming global recession. From Thomas Heath: “'The escalating trade tensions, combined with low volume and traditionally weaker-than-average price returns in August and September, are contributing to a re-test of last week’s low for the S&P 500,’ said Sam Stovall of CFRA Research. … Several factors have contributed to the market turbulence in recent sessions, including China’s threat to devalue its currency, massive protests in Hong Kong that could prompt a response from the Chinese government, an escalation of the U.S.-China trade war and a flight to bonds. Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius said he does not expect a U.S.-China trade deal before the 2020 election in a note he released over the weekend. … Monday’s decline follows a turbulent start to August, which is historically one of the worst months of the year for stocks. But the trade war with China is casting a pall over the global economy, threatening a decade-long U.S. boom that had pushed stocks to all-time highs.”
-- Bank of America sees a greater than 30 percent chance that the economy will fall into a recession in the next year, partly as a result of the trade war and a global economic slowdown. (CNBC)
-- Such a recession could undermine Trump’s reelection, writes Aaron Blake: “His approval rating already languishes in the low to mid-40s, even with a strong economy and an unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. … We’re so polarized that a slight downturn in the economy might not cost him a huge amount of support — especially if he can persuade his supporters to blame the Federal Reserve or that the trade war is worth the momentary economic pain — but he simply can’t afford to lose much support, period.”
-- Farmers support Trump’s tariff fight, even though they don’t think it helps them. From NBC News: “For months, analysts have been wondering if the economic hits farmers are taking might come back to bite the White House. Up to now, anecdotal reporting has shown little erosion of support for Trump and a survey from academics at Iowa State University of 700 farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota seems to back that reporting. The survey, led by ISU Professor Wendong Zhang, found that 57 percent of those farmers somewhat or strongly supported the U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods that brought retaliatory tariffs from the Chinese government. Another 14 percent had neutral feelings about them. Only 30 percent somewhat or strongly opposed the tariffs … [But] only 14 percent of the farmers surveyed said, a year from now, ‘My farm operation will be better off financially because of this trade disruption.’ And only 20 percent said that, in a year, ‘U.S. agriculture will be better off compared to now because of this trade disruption.’ Meanwhile, more than three quarters said, ‘American farmers will bear the brunt of the tariffs imposed by the Chinese government.’”
-- Here’s some good news: Scientists say Ebola is no longer “incurable” after the discovery of two highly effective drugs. Claire Parker reports: “The drugs, tested in a nearly nine-month clinical trial, have performed so well that health professionals will now administer them to every patient in Congo. … Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, a Congolese doctor who has spent his career researching Ebola treatments and oversaw the trial on the ground, said in a conference call Monday that he ‘could not have imagined’ that such a day would come. ‘From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable,’ he said. But in a place where suspicion of health workers and violent conflict are widespread, finding effective medical therapies is only half the battle, experts say.”
-- Russia held funerals for five of the nuclear workers who died while testing a new missile that some international observers believe could’ve been a new nuclear weapon. Will Englund reports: “Russian officials said they will try to determine what went wrong and how to avoid another such accident in the future. … Also Monday, Valentin Kostyukov, director of the center in Sarov, said on local television that researchers from the institute had been working at the northern test site for a year. Rosatom’s chief, Alexei Likhachev, said work on the new weapon would continue, without specifying what that weapon is.”
-- A 65-year-old former Pakistani military officer has been credited with stopping a gunman from attacking a mosque in Norway. Rick Noack reports: “Mohammad Rafiq said he threw the gunman to the ground after the man entered the al-Noor Islamic Center in Baerum near the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Saturday, before the two other men inside the mosque rushed to help him pin down the gunman. … The attempted attack on the al-Noor center happened a day before Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage. Rafiq and the two others had been at the al-Noor mosque preparing for the festivities.”
-- India continues silencing those who oppose its crackdown on Kashmir. From Nina Masih and Joanna Slater: “Ever since India announced a move to strip Kashmir of its autonomy one week ago, residents of this disputed region have been unable to make phone calls, access the Internet or move freely. They also have heard nothing from local political leaders, because many of them have been detained and held incommunicado, part of an unprecedented clampdown that has muffled the public response to India’s decision. … To maintain control, India has sent thousands of additional troops to Kashmir and detained hundreds of local politicians and party workers.”
-- “These candidates are not polling well. But at the Iowa State Fair, they’re stars,” Holly Bailey reports from Des Moines: “Amy Klobuchar stood over the searing heat of a smoking grill to flip pork chops. … By the time the senator from Minnesota left the fair Saturday night, she had spent nearly eight hours on the ground, smiling and shaking hands and doing all the things that White House aspirants do when they make their quadrennial pilgrimage to this playground of fried food and presidential politics. … For Klobuchar and other Democrats stuck near the bottom of the polls in a historically large field, the Iowa State Fair offered one of the brightest spotlights of the election contest so far, outside of the debates. These hopefuls addressed some of the largest crowds of their campaigns at the soapbox and attracted outsize media attention from the nearly 800 reporters and photographers credentialed for this year’s fair, far more than in any other year.”
Several candidates walking around the fair this weekend, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio haven’t qualified for next month’s primary debate, so their time there was precious: “On Friday, Castro walked the fairgrounds with his family, trailed by a large media contingent that captured every little moment — including when the candidate stepped in cow manure while visiting one of the livestock barns. Castro simply walked on. … On Saturday, Gillibrand spent hours at the fair, walking the grounds with her husband and two young sons. … She devoted most of her speech [at the fair's political soapbox] to making the case for her struggling candidacy and asking voters to donate to keep her 2020 aspirations going.”
-- Bernie Sanders is making health care his defining issue, but will it work? Sean Sullivan reports: “‘You talk like ‘universal health care,’ ‘health care for all,’ what does it mean?’ Sanders told reporters on a muggy Sunday afternoon at the Iowa State Fair, referencing phrases other White House hopefuls have used. Reprising a line he used in a recent debate, he said, ‘As some of you may know, I wrote the damn bill. All right? I know a little bit about it.’ But it’s not clear if the emboldened approach will help Sanders or compound his troubles. Critics have raised concerns about ending private insurance and raising taxes to pay for the proposal. … And voters are showing more uncertainty about Medicare-for-all at Democratic events. Another challenge, some Democrats say, is that Sanders is no longer the only major candidate supporting Medicare-for-all, potentially making him a victim of his own success.”
-- Sanders also launched a baseless attack against The Washington Post, accusing the publication of biased coverage because of his criticism of Amazon. Felicia Sonmez reports: “The Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, and operates independently of Amazon. At his town hall Monday in Wolfeboro, N.H., Sanders asked the audience, ‘Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?’ ‘Nothing!’ some in the crowd replied. ‘See, I talk about that all of the time,’ Sanders replied. ‘And then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to 15 bucks an hour as well.’”
-- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) will take a two-week leave of absence from her presidential campaign to report for active duty with the Hawaiian Army National Guard in Indonesia. “I love our country. I love being able to serve our country in so many ways including as a soldier,” she said. “And so while some people are telling me, like gosh this is a terrible time to leave the campaign, can't you find a way out of it? You know that's not what this is about.” (CBS News)
-- The fear of being called “racist” is the new “cultural anxiety” for Trump supporters. Eugene Scott explains: “Fear of being accused of backing a white supremacist worldview caused many Trump fans to remain silent about their support for the real estate developer or to publicly express support for someone else while privately backing Trump. Today, on the second anniversary of the Charlottesville violence that led the president to call neo-Nazis ‘very good people,’ and as the president’s overall approval ratings remain relatively low, many of those who brought him to the dance appear to be dancing more closely than ever. And they are blaming their critics for their faithfulness to a man whom writer Ta-Nehisi Coates called ‘America’s first white president.’ … Many Trump supporters express indignation at being labeled racist, but the worldview they admittedly embrace demonstrates a hostility to diversity.”
-- Politicizing the judicial branch and further eroding the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the reelection campaigns for Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are selling “Back-to-Back Supreme Court Champs” T-shirts that include references to Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. From Felicia Sonmez: “The black T-shirt features the silhouettes of Trump and McConnell on the front and the names of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on its sleeves. It is available to supporters who make a donation of $35 or more through a joint fundraising site set up by both campaigns.”
-- Stacey Abrams is taking her voting rights crusade national by launching a voter protection program in battleground states ahead of the presidential election. Vanessa Williams reports: “The initiative, called ‘Fair Fight 2020,’ takes its name from the organization that the Georgia Democrat founded last year after narrowly losing her bid to become the nation’s first black female governor. Abrams is set to announce the program Tuesday during a speech at the convention of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Las Vegas.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Yesterday was the second anniversary of the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Many remembered Heather Heyer, the young woman and counterprotester who was killed when one of the rally’s participants intentionally drove his car into the crowd:
Two years ago in Charlottesville, a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of people protesting white supremacy and killed Heather Heyer. May we honor her memory by speaking out against hatred, as she did, and working together to defeat it.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 12, 2019
Two years after neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, white supremacists continue to endanger our country and the President continues to embolden them.— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) August 12, 2019
We have to stop downplaying the threat of violent racism and fight back against the normalization of hatred and bigotry.
Heather Heyer's mother has to hide the location of her daughter's gravesite--another sick legacy of the hate-filled neo-Nazis that invaded Charlottesville 2 yrs ago. We're grateful to the VA State Police and others who've been on the @UVA Lawn and in Charlottesville for days now. https://t.co/YMgzFpO0GV— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) August 12, 2019
Two years. So much – and yet so little – has changed in Charlottesville and beyond pic.twitter.com/6anjKk1aAw— Ellen Meyers (@ellenkmeyers) August 12, 2019
Medical professionals joined the protesters in Hong Kong at the shuttered airport:
From Stand News: Medical professionals in #HongKong have joined silent sit-in protests at several hospitals.— Eric Cheung (@EricCheungwc) August 13, 2019
They are protesting @hkpoliceforce’s excessive use of force and the govt’s reluctance to respond to people’s demands. pic.twitter.com/tD4blFiQeZ
An analyst at the National Immigration Law Center noted the complexity of the president's latest move against legal immigrants:
Most of the 26 million people who will be impacted by this are children and US citizens...— Jackie Vimo (@JackieVimo) August 12, 2019
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) spoke out against China's actions in Hong Kong:
In #HongKong the government of #China is showing the world exactly who they are.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 13, 2019
They are not the benign & responsible actors they like to portray themselves as.
They are vicious authoritarians. https://t.co/o0hgrniCtj
So did Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.):
The people of Hong Kong are making clear that they will not tolerate repression, and their movement affirms: The power is with the people. They deserve our support and the support of the world. https://t.co/Ap0OQSsN0N— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 12, 2019
A clip of a Republican family at the Iowa State Fair saying they'll vote Democrat in 2020 went viral, catching the eye of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway's husband:
“I’m a life-long conservative ... I actually campaigned door-to-door for Chuck Grassley [the first time he ran] ... But I cannot vote for Donald Trump. ... He is not a conservative, and I don’t think he’s a good man.” https://t.co/vced7xHEuR— George Conway (@gtconway3d) August 12, 2019
A Post reporter analyzed a very specific Iowa poll:
Speaking of unscientific state fair metrics, the “cast your kernel” poll results have shown Biden ahead but losing steam since Thursday, and a Buttigieg-Warren tussle for second. In 2015, results were something like Clinton 58%, Sanders 38%, O’Malley 5%. pic.twitter.com/WL9JKV7zTo— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 12, 2019
A video of CNN host Chris Cuomo reacting to a man calling him “Fredo” went viral, and the president's son sent a tweet taunting him about it:
Trump golfed in New Jersey:
View this post on Instagram
I’m proud to be an AMERICAN, especially with this man leading our country! One of the greatest days of my life! Thank you for a great day #potus #dad ....you are the best! @realdonaldtrump @pga_johndaly 💯🚂🇺🇸🚂🇺🇸💯🚂🇺🇸💯 #americafirst #peoplefirst #with #the #greatest #leader #of #our #country #proud #American #redwhiteblue #Maga #potus
And former national security adviser Michael Flynn was spotted wearing a custom shirt:
The American Original @GenFlynn spotted at Green Airport today in Providence... looking good looking healthy.. let’s go General!! @BarbaraRedgate @GoJackFlynn @flynn_neill @realDonaldTrump @SidneyPowell1 pic.twitter.com/I5TzT0TjtU— Joseph J. Flynn ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@JosephJFlynn1) August 13, 2019
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If that’s the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically, and that’s what I’m trying to convey,” said national security adviser John Bolton of the Trump administration's support for a possible no-deal Brexit. “We’re with you!” (Politico)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The president has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over the past 928 days, our fact-checkers found:
When pressed on issues he wants to avoid, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has a go-to dodge at the ready: “That’s not in my lane.” Our video team made a montage:
Hasan Minhaj discussed the country's opioid epidemic and the recent spike in deaths caused by fentanyl:
Stephen Colbert said he didn't think it was possible but Trump still managed to shock him when he shared a conspiracy theory about the death of Jeffrey Epstein:
He also took a look at the president's warm relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un:
A deepfake video of comedian Bill Hader transforming into other celebrities went viral, causing some fears:
*shivers*.— Gavin Sheridan (@gavinsblog) August 12, 2019
Anyways, imagine when this is all properly weaponised on top of already fractured and extreme online ecosystems and people stop believing their eyes and ears.
Finally, Australia was hit by a cold front that brought wintry conditions. Watch a large group of kangaroos jump around in a snow-covered field in rural New South Wales: