THE BIG IDEA: President Trump is Lucy. Gun control is the football. Congress is Charlie Brown.
Following his now well-established pattern after mass shootings, Trump continues to back away from his initial support for "strong background checks." When the bodies are still being buried – whether after Las Vegas, Parkland, Fla., or El Paso – the president proclaims that he will take meaningful action to address the epidemic of gun violence. But as public attention wanes, and he faces pushback from the National Rifle Association, Trump returns to saying the problem that needs to be addressed is actually mental health.
“It's the people that pull the trigger, not the gun that pulls the trigger,” Trump said last night on the tarmac in New Jersey, as he prepared to fly back to Washington after 10 days at the golf club he owns there. “We have a very, very big mental health problem, and Congress is working on various things and I will be looking at it. … They have bipartisan committees working on background checks and various other things. And we’ll see. I don't want people to forget that this is a mental health problem. I don't want them to forget that because it is. It’s a mental health problem."
There have always been lots of violent people in the world, but they did not always have such easy access to weapons of war and massive magazines. Mass shootings did not used to happen with such regularity, and they did not used to be so deadly.
Asked last night if he’ll support universal background checks, Trump was curt and noncommittal. “I'm not saying anything,” he replied. “I'm saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas. And they'll come in from Democrats and Republicans. And I'll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks, okay? Thank you.”
Trump added that he’s “very concerned about the Second Amendment.” And so it goes. There is still a chance that Congress passes something next month after returning from summer break, bowing to intense political pressure. But Democrats are increasingly pessimistic that anything will be different. And the odds seem increasingly high that we will live through more anthropomorphized versions of Charles Schulz comic strips. Schulz kept the Lucy and the football gag going from 1951 to 1999. But this iteration isn’t funny.
-- A new poll conducted by a premier Republican polling firm shows that about 3 in 4 suburban women favor stricter gun laws. The Republican Main Street Partnership, which supports moderate Republicans and has endorsed “red flag” bills under consideration in the House, commissioned a Public Opinion Strategies survey of 1,000 registered voters across five suburban House districts: Colorado’s Sixth, Kansas’s Third, North Carolina’s Ninth, Pennsylvania’s First and Virginia’s 10th. The group shared with me the topline results among women in these suburban areas:
- 72 percent said they think gun laws should be stricter, compared to four percent who said they should be less strict and 23 percent who said they should be kept as they are now.
- 55 percent said they think stricter gun laws would help prevent gun violence.
- 90 percent support requiring universal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or other private sales, which would require all gun owners to file with a national firearms registry.
- 88 percent said they would support requiring a 48-hour waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and when the buyer can take possession of that gun.
- 84 percent back a national red flag law that would permit law enforcement to temporarily retain firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.
- 76 percent said they would ban the purchase and use of semi-automatic assault-style weapons like the AK-47 and the AR-15.
- And 72 percent would support banning the sale and possession of high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines, which allow guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before needing to be reloaded.
The female respondents were read six issues and asked which they want their lawmaker to focus on the most. Working to prevent gun violence was No. 1, selected by 30 percent of suburban women. Health care was No. 2, with 24 percent, followed by addressing illegal immigration (14 percent) as the No. 3 priority. Further down the list were improving the economy, balancing the budget, improving the country’s infrastructure and strengthening national security.
The Main Street Partnership counts more than 50 House Republicans as members. Five GOP House members who are in the partnership cosponsored the background checks bill that passed the House in February: Reps. Peter King (N.Y.) Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Chris Smith (N.J.) and Rep. Brian Mast (Fla.). “Suburban women have made it clear that they are ready for Congress to address the gun violence epidemic plaguing this country,” said Sarah Chamberlain, the president and chief executive of the Republican Main Street Partnership, in an email. “Our mission is to equip our members of Congress with pertinent information like this polling so that they may best address the needs of their suburban districts by crafting appropriate legislative responses.”
The poll was conducted by Neil Newhouse and Robert Blizzard. They are partners at Public Opinion Strategies, whose blue-chip client list includes 11 sitting senators, 46 House incumbents and six governors. The survey was in the field on Aug. 7 and 8, four days after the massacres in Texas and Ohio, so feelings were still especially raw. Half the respondents were reached via land line, and the other half were contacted over cell phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent. The president’s approval rating was underwater among this suburban sample, with 35 percent approving and 61 percent disapproving (55 percent strongly). Democrats led on the generic House ballot by a margin of 51 percent to 33 percent. The poll also found that 2 in 3 of the women in these districts are pessimistic about the country’s direction.
-- In thinking about solutions, experts agree that banning high-capacity magazines would be one of the most potent ways to curb the epidemic of mass shootings. “It took a shooter all of 32 seconds to spray 41 rounds [in Dayton], an attack that killed nine people and injured 27. A lightning-fast response from nearby officers prevented a far higher toll: When police shot him dead, the killer still had dozens of bullets to go in his double-drum, 100-round magazine,” Griff Witte reports:
“Until 2015, Ohio had its own restrictions, capping magazines at 30 bullets. But the Republican-dominated state legislature erased those rules as part of a broader package of changes aimed at loosening gun laws. ‘They just slipped it through,’ said Cecil Thomas, a Democrat in the Ohio Senate. Following the Dayton attack, Thomas and other Democrats are pushing for new limits. Thomas, a 27-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department, said he had to worry as an officer that, with a 15-round clip and one in the chamber of his pistol, criminals would outgun him. ‘My little nine-millimeter would be useless against an AR-15,’ he said. … In Ohio, however, there is little indication that a renewed magazine limit is viable. …
“Magazines like the one used in Dayton have little utility in hunting, law enforcement or self-defense. But high-capacity devices, which are readily available online and in stores, have been used in more than half of all mass shootings in recent years, including especially deadly attacks in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Tex., and Parkland, Fla. … Restrictions could make the attacks less deadly, giving potential targets precious seconds to escape or fight back while the shooter reloads. … Magazines with a capacity of more than 10 bullets were prohibited from 1994 to 2004 under federal law that included a prohibition on assault weapons. But since the law lapsed, gun crimes involving high-capacity semiautomatic weapons have increased markedly, research conducted by George Mason University criminologist Christopher S. Koper found. … The odds that Congress or state legislatures will act still appear relatively remote.”
-- “Authorities this weekend announced they had foiled three potential mass shootings after arresting three men in different states who expressed interest in or threatened to carry them out,” CNN reports:
- “In Connecticut, 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol was arrested after authorities said he had expressed interest in committing a mass shooting on Facebook, according to a statement from the FBI and the Norwalk Police Department. …
- “Tristan Scott Wix of Daytona Beach, Florida, was arrested in a Winn-Dixie parking lot on Friday after he sent his ex-girlfriend a series of disturbing texts in which he allegedly threatened to commit a mass shooting, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said. The ex-girlfriend alerted authorities. In the messages, the 25-year-old said he wanted to open fire on a large crowd of people. … ‘A good 100 kills would be nice,’ one message allegedly read. … Authorities recovered a .22-caliber hunting rifle and 400 rounds of ammo in Wix's apartment. Wix had initially told investigators he did not own any firearms…
- “And in Ohio, 20-year-old James Patrick Reardon was arrested for allegedly threatening to carry out a shooting at a Youngstown Jewish community center. An Instagram account belonging to Reardon shared a video that showed a man firing a gun, New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D'Egidio (said). … A search warrant was executed and authorities found a cache of weapons and ammunition. … Reardon was arrested without incident and booked into the Mahoning County Jail on Saturday on one count of telecommunications harassment and one count of aggravated menacing.”
-- “Two mass killings a world apart share a common theme: ‘ecofascism,’” by Joel Achenbach: “Before the slaughter of dozens of people in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso this year, the accused gunmen took pains to explain their fury, including their hatred of immigrants. The statements that authorities think the men posted online share another obsession: overpopulation and environmental degradation. The alleged Christchurch shooter, who is charged with targeting Muslims and killing 51 people in March, declared himself an ‘eco-fascist’ and railed about immigrants’ birthrates. The statement linked to the El Paso shooter, who is charged with killing 22 people in a shopping area this month, bemoans water pollution, plastic waste and an American consumer culture that is ‘creating a massive burden for future generations.’ …
“Many white supremacists have latched onto environmental themes, drawing connections between the protection of nature and racial exclusion. These ideas have shown themselves to be particularly dangerous when adopted by unstable individuals prone to violence and convinced that they must take drastic actions to stave off catastrophe. … In recent years, the mainstream environmental movement has moved strongly in the direction of social justice — the opposite of what hate groups seek. Now, the leaders of those organizations fear white nationalists are using green messages to lure young people to embrace racist and nativist agendas.”
THE LATEST ON THE CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE:
-- Gun control groups said they organized more than 100 “Recess Rallies” across all 50 states this weekend, urging action when Congress is back after Labor Day, from Baltimore to Boston and Cleveland to Chicago and Charleston, W.V.
-- “If new gun legislation doesn't pass in September, it won't get done before the 2020 election,” Axios reports: “It's September or bust,” said a source involved in the discussions. “We'll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it and move on — or we blow it.”
“You think Donald Trump Jr. and the NRA, Stephen Miller, Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pence are going to let him be the first president to restrict gun ownership?” said a Democratic congressional aide involved in the talks. “I'm not their political adviser, but their strategy is to get as many base voters as they can. ... A congresswoman got shot in the head. Babies were slaughtered. If we couldn't do it then, we won't do it now.”
-- Arizona is emerging as a new front in the gun wars: The Associated Press’s Julie Pace said Sunday on CNN’s “Inside Politics” that this could be a top issue in the Senate race there next year. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) will likely face Democrat Mark Kelly, the husband of Gabby Giffords, who survived a shooting in Tucson in 2011. Pace noted that McSally has been softening her tone somewhat and has expressed an openness to some new gun legislation. “Republicans like McSally know that their success in 2020 may hinge on their ability to hold some of these suburbs that have traditionally voted for Republicans but have really started to move away from the party in the Trump era,” Pace said. “A lot of Republicans we talk to say that this issue, gun control, could shift that trend even further away from the party.” McSally is one of the four GOP senators who are members of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which commissioned the poll.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- A group representing the nation’s most powerful CEOs said maximizing shareholder profits should no longer be the primary goal of corporations. Jena McGregor reports: “The new statement, released Monday by the Business Roundtable, suggests balancing the needs of a company’s various constituencies and comes at a time of widening income inequality, rising expectations from the public for corporate behavior and proposals from Democratic lawmakers that aim to revamp or even restructure American capitalism. ‘Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity,’ reads the statement from the organization, which is chaired by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. …
"That concept — often known as ‘shareholder primacy,’ or a corporation’s duty to maximize shareholder value — grew to prominence in the mid-1980s and has since became a widely accepted governance norm, one that critics say has driven a fixation on short-term results and helped balloon the size of CEO pay packages, fueled by outsized stock awards. … The new statement comes as the gap between the compensation growth of corporate executives and American workers has grown at staggering rates. … It was not immediately clear which members of the Business Roundtable supported or opposed the change. And it remains to be seen how much the companies change their practices in light of the new commitments.” (Financial columnist Steven Pearlstein’s take: “Top CEOs are reclaiming legitimacy by advancing a vision of what’s good for America.")
-- Three of the leading white candidates for president struggled to introduce themselves to black voters in South Carolina on Sunday. Annie Linskey reports: “At services Sunday morning, a pastor misidentified Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s husband. The day before, the man introducing Warren at the Black Church PAC presidential candidate forum in Atlanta inaccurately said she was from the ‘great state of New Hampshire.’ … Warren was traveling with the Rev. Miniard Culpepper, the pastor at Boston’s Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, whom she referred to as a ‘spiritual adviser.’ Culpepper said he has known Warren since she ran for Senate in 2012, and he said he’s not worried about the perception that she’s lacking black support. ‘They’ll be there,’ he said in a brief interview. ‘She’s just hitting her stride.’ ... [Pete] Buttigieg, whose support among blacks has been too small to measure in some polls, spent his Sunday morning glad-handing at Bethel AME church in Georgetown, S.C. …
"[Bernie] Sanders used his trip to release a wide-reaching criminal justice plan. … Although black churchgoers ate nearby, Sanders delivered his remarks to a group of mostly white voters who came just to see him. Several Sanders supporters insisted they shouldn’t have to pay for the luncheon since they had come only to hear the candidate. The overall effect — a crowd of largely white outsiders descending on a weekly lunch for a black church — alienated several churchgoers."
-- The biggest political story of the weekend: Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) is seriously considering a primary challenge next year against Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The clash would be epic and generational: RFK’s grandson is 38. The incumbent is 73. And Ayanna Pressley, a member of the "Squad,” showed last year that even popular incumbents can be felled after she slayed Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) in a primary.
“On Saturday, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kennedy, Emily Kaufman, said that ‘right now’ the congressman is seeking re-election,” the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin reported. “Paul Tencher, a senior adviser to Mr. Markey’s campaign, said the senator would not be chased into retirement. … Speculation about Mr. Kennedy’s interest in the race began last month when a poll testing the four-term congressman’s prospects against the senator was reported by Politico. Mr. Kennedy’s aides would not deny that they had commissioned the poll, and on Friday, a Democratic official confirmed that Mr. Kennedy had paid for the survey. The poll, which even Mr. Markey’s advisers acknowledged would most likely show the popular Mr. Kennedy leading, was followed by the creation of a group — Jump in, Joe! — aimed at drafting the congressman into the Senate race. The group has a website and a Facebook page seeking supporters to sign a petition to nudge Mr. Kennedy into running.”
-- Warren endorsed Markey about six months ago and recorded a commercial for him that’s in the can. Campaigning in South Carolina on Saturday night, she did not recant her endorsement but offered praise for both her junior senator and Kennedy, her former student. “Eddie has been a great partner in the Senate,” she said in Aiken, S.C., per Linskey. “Joe Kennedy is also a great partner. He and [his wife] Lauren were both my students, and I worked with Joe before either one of us was in politics and have worked with him ever since he's been in Congress. He's really an amazing person.”
-- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced yesterday that he’ll stick by Markey even if Kennedy runs. “I’ve already committed to Sen. Markey,” Walsh said after a gun control rally. “I’ve talked to him about it. He’s been a champion for so many different causes in the United States Senate.”
-- Markey, who was also at the rally, emphasized that he has more than $4 million cash on hand when reporters asked him about a potential challenge. “Joe and I, we speak regularly, and we will continue to talk,” Markey said, according to the Boston Herald. (Kennedy has $4.2 million.)
-- Herald columnist Howie Carr writes that “Markey is a marked man if Kennedy wants his seat.”
-- Potential Democratic candidates in Kennedy’s 4th District are already making calls behind the scenes in the event that he vacates his House seat to run for Senate. “At least two people — state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Jesse Mermell of the Alliance for Business Leadership — are quietly reaching out to donors and operatives just in case, according to people who have spoken with them,” per Politico’s Boston reporter Stephanie Murray.
“Markey himself is a cautionary tale about the perils of waiting around for a Senate seat to open,” Murray notes. “As an ambitious young congressman in 1984, he initially ran for the Senate seat left vacant by Paul Tsongas. He withdrew from that race, however, and had to wait nearly 30 years before it opened up again when John Kerry resigned to become secretary of State. While Massachusetts’ other Senate seat would open if Warren wins the presidency in 2020, a special election to fill her seat would likely feature a crowded, open field of Democratic candidates. Though Kennedy would likely be a top-tier candidate, other heavyweight candidates would likely make a play for the seat in that scenario.”
-- During a town hall in his hometown, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) doubled down on his comments last week that there would not "be any population of the world left" if you eliminated people who were "products of rape and incest." From CNN: “King went on to justify his view by comparing the stigma of being a child of rape or incest with the stigma of being the child of a single mother. ‘There was a time, when I was your age, that if you grew up with a single mother, you were not considered equal to the rest of the people in your classroom,’ King said. King clashed with a constituent who identified himself as an immigrant when pressed for a response to his own quotes ‘that are kind of offensive or demeaning towards immigrants.’ In one instance, King denied having made the controversial statement in question and suggested to the constituent, ‘I think you're reading some of this in Spanish,’ a comment that caused outcry from the audience.”
-- Amy Chozick goes deep on Julián Castro’s keynote at the 2012 Democratic National Convention for the front of today’s Times: “Party leaders waited for him to seize on his ‘Obama Moment.’ And waited. And waited. And waited. The keynote, as it turned out, became a turning point that didn’t quite turn him. … So far, Mr. Castro has mostly languished in polls, eclipsed first by another Texan, Beto O’Rourke, and then by another mayor, Pete Buttigieg. He is currently one qualifying poll away from earning a spot in the September debate. ...
“After Mr. Castro’s solid performance in the first presidential debate in June, Democrats asked his finance chair, Scott Atlas, a lawyer in Houston, where he’d been hiding Mr. Castro. Mr. Atlas would go red in the face reminding them of his 2012 speech. ‘I said, ‘He’s been hiding in plain sight!’’ … Mr. Castro delivered a less standout performance in the second debate in Detroit. But he is optimistic about his chances to make the September debate stage, in his home state of Texas. His mom, Rosie, said her son, who doesn’t look or act like most of his opponents, has an advantage. ‘He’s a calm guy. He’s not a good ol’ boy. He’s not a back slapper. He’s quiet and introspective and likes to read,’ she said. ‘People always end up underestimating him.’”
-- Former Maryland congressman John Delaney cannot catch a break. He drew 11 people to an event in Iowa. From the Guardian: “He brushed off concerns that he won’t make the next Democratic debates — the bar for entry is far higher for the next round, in mid-September — by insisting he could make the one after that, because he expects other candidates to drop out. As Delaney closed out at the Rustic Brew, his campaign manager abruptly announced that the rest of the day’s events were canceled. He had only completed two out of five. The campaign manager put it down to a schedule conflict.”
-- Trump lashed out at Fox News after the network's respected polling team released more unflattering findings. From Politico: “‘There’s something going on at Fox [News], I’ll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.’ … Trump said he didn’t ‘believe’ the poll that was published, adding: ‘Fox has changed. My worst polls have always been from Fox.’ … Trump on Sunday also teed off on Fox News political analyst Juan Williams, who the president said ‘has never said a positive thing.’"
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Trump and two of his senior economic advisers tried to play down the risk of a recession. Tory Newmyer, Felicia Sonmez and Robert Samuels report: “In an exchange with reporters in Morristown, N.J., shortly before taking off for Washington on Sunday evening, Trump dismissed the notion that the nation is headed toward a downturn, saying, ‘I don’t see a recession.’ ‘I mean, the world is in a recession right now — although that’s too big a statement,’ he added, in a remark that appeared to undercut his effort to calm fears. Earlier Sunday, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, and White House trade director Peter Navarro between them appeared on all five morning talk shows to defend the president’s economic record and argue his trade offensive against China isn’t harming American producers or consumers. … ‘I don’t see a recession at all,’ Kudlow said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ On NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ he urged Americans, ‘Let’s not be afraid of optimism.’"
-- Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell is stuck between a slowing economy and an angry president. From the Wall Street Journal: “After cutting short-term interest rates in July, Mr. Powell is navigating the Fed toward more rate reductions, though conditions could change. The debate among his Fed colleagues is how much to move rates and when as well as how to best frame the decision, which will be scrutinized by markets and the White House. … Mr. Trump says the economy is slowing because the central bank pushed interest rates too high last year, while many in business and at the Fed say the president’s own trade policies have triggered market jitters and slowed business investment. Some analysts said Mr. Powell has at times confused markets over the Fed’s plans. His push to raise interest rates in December, and his defense of further increases, added to year-end market volatility. In hindsight, these analysts said, it was a mistake. Mr. Powell led his colleagues to reverse course within weeks.”
-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went from calling Trump an authoritarian-in-the-making during the 2016 primaries to becoming the president’s most loyal foot soldier. The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser traces the metamorphosis in a must-read profile that posted this morning: “Like many Republicans who called Trump a ‘kook,’ a ‘cancer,’ and a threat to democracy before ultimately supporting him, Pompeo disagreed with much of Trump’s platform. He took issue in particular with Trump’s ‘America First’ skepticism about the United States’ role in the world. Pompeo was a conservative internationalist who had been shaped by his Cold War-era military service, and he remained a believer in American power as the guarantor of global stability. Yet, after Trump won the Presidency, Pompeo sought a post in his Administration. ... Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk, now says it’s possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther, the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish people. …
“Pompeo’s transformation reflects the larger story of how the Republican Party went from disdaining Trump to embracing him with barely a murmur of dissent. …In the late nineties, … Pompeo radically changed his life. He quit (a) law firm after two years and divorced his wife. … He moved to Kansas … [He] became a deacon of Wichita’s Eastminster Church, an evangelical congregation that eventually quit the mainstream Presbyterian Church because of its support for gay clergy. … In 2010, amid the Tea Party backlash to President Obama, Pompeo made another career switch, running for an open Congress seat in the state’s Fourth District.
"The establishment climber from California had become a heartland evangelical. Pompeo ran a nasty race against the Democrat, an Indian-American state legislator named Raj Goyle, who, unlike Pompeo, had grown up in Wichita. Pompeo’s campaign tweeted praise for an article calling Goyle a ‘turban topper,’ and a supporter bought billboards urging residents to ‘Vote American—Vote Pompeo.’ In the heavily Republican district in a heavily Republican year, he won easily. ‘Pompeo’s singular ability is in navigating power,’ Goyle told me. ‘On that I give him massive respect, the way he mapped Wichita power, the way he mapped D.C. power, the way he mapped Trump.’”
-- The president has apparently cut off Tom Barrack, one of his closest friends and a confidant for more than 30 years. From Politico: “The key issue driving the two men apart: Barrack’s role as chairman of the president’s 2017 inauguration fund, which is under investigation by prosecutors. Trump was ‘really upset’ to read reports about Barrack’s role in allegedly making it easy for some foreigners and others to try to spend money to get access to Trump and his inner circle and whether some of the inauguration money was misspent, according to a senior administration official. ‘The president was really surprised to read all about the inauguration and who was trying to buy access and how, because the president doesn’t get any of that money,’ said the official. … A spokesman for Barrack, Owen Blicksilver, pushed back on the notion that the two are no longer friendly … Still, Barrack has cut back his presence in Washington in the last six months and ‘has not been around’ D.C. much recently.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a Kabul wedding that killed 63. Pamela Constable and Sharif Hassan report: “The local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement online with an image of a young man with an assault rifle. The extremist Sunni militia described the man as a Pakistani named Abu Asim who had attacked a gathering of ‘rejecter polytheists,’ as the group describes followers of Shiite Islam. Officials initially said 38 people had died, but the scale of the attack became apparent Sunday morning, when the Interior Ministry said at least 63 had been killed and more than 180 wounded. City hospitals were overwhelmed, and relatives waited hours outside for news of their loved ones. … More than 1,000 guests were gathered in the salon in the Dubai City wedding hall at 11 p.m. Saturday. Dinner had just been served, with male and female guests in separate sections. In the men’s section, loud music was pounding and young boys were dancing near the stage when a man posing as a guest detonated his bomb at a nearby table. … The bride and groom survived the blast but lost family members, including 14 on the bride’s side."
-- Afghanistan vowed to “eliminate” all safe havens for ISIS after the deadly attack. From the AP: “A sharply worded Taliban statement questioned why the U.S. failed to identify the attackers in advance. Another Taliban statement marking the independence day said to ‘leave Afghanistan to the Afghans.’ More than anything in its nearly year-long negotiations with the U.S., the Taliban want some 20,000 U.S. and allied forces to withdraw from the country. … [President Ashraf] Ghani asserted that the Taliban, whom the U.S. now hopes will help to curb the IS affiliate’s rise, are just as much to blame. His government is openly frustrated at being sidelined from the U.S. talks with the insurgent group, which regards the Afghan government as a U.S. puppet. … ‘We will take revenge for every civilian drop of blood,’ Ghani declared. ‘Our struggle will continue against [the Islamic State], we will take revenge and will root them out.’ He urged the international community to join those efforts.”
-- Two Russian nuclear monitoring stations went silent soon after an explosion at a missile test site earlier this month. From the Wall Street Journal: “The manned monitoring stations are part of an international network of hundreds of stations set up to verify compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits nuclear weapons tests globally. Participating nations are responsible for running the stations. The treaty has yet to formally go into effect since the required number of nations have yet to ratify it. Russia has said it is strictly observing the accord. … Arms-control experts said the monitoring problem appears to be a Russian effort to conceal information about the accident and not an effort to hide evidence of a prohibited nuclear weapons test.”
-- Protesters in Hong Kong, facing an intensifying police crackdown and threats of military force from Beijing, demonstrated peacefully under a torrential downpour. Shibani Mahtani and Gerry Shih report: “Organizers estimated the turnout at more than 1.7 million — among the largest demonstrations seen here in weeks. It was marked by restraint from protesters, who urged one another to avoid confrontations with police. Police said 128,000 filled Victoria Park at its busiest point but did not release estimates of the number who marched or demonstrators in the surrounding areas. … China’s People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force, practiced crowd control tactics in Shenzhen, the Chinese city connected to Hong Kong, over the past week. … The police presence remained light through the afternoon, and there was no attempt to block the route of the march.”
-- Trump said the Commerce Department is unlikely to grant another temporary reprieve to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Felicia Sonmez reports: “’At this moment, it looks much more like we’re not going to do business,’ the president said of Huawei, citing national security concerns. A Commerce Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump directed the Commerce Department in May to place Huawei on its ‘Entity List,’ known to some as the ‘death penalty.’ The move makes it difficult for Huawei to do business with any U.S. company. Days later, the Commerce Department announced that it was giving the company a 90-day reprieve, effective May 20.”
-- “The quantum revolution is coming, and Chinese scientists are at the forefront,” writes Jeanne Whalen: “Beijing is pouring billions into research and development and is offering Chinese scientists big perks to return home from Western labs. China’s drive has sparked calls for more R&D funding in the United States, and helped trigger concerns in the Trump administration that some types of scientific collaboration with China may be aiding the People’s Liberation Army and hurting U.S. interests. ‘The United States must be prepared for a future in which its traditional technological predominance faces new, perhaps unprecedented challenges,’ the Center for a New American Security wrote in a recent report about China’s quantum ambitions.”
-- Women are fleeing death in Central America, but the Trump administration is determined to deny them asylum. From the Times: “Across Latin America, a murder epidemic is underway. Most years, more than 100,000 people are killed, largely young men on the periphery of broken societies, where gangs and cartels sometimes take the place of the state. The turmoil has forced millions to flee the region and seek refuge in the United States, where they confront a system strained by record demand and a bitter fight over whether to accept them. But violence against women, and domestic violence in particular, is a powerful and often overlooked factor in the migration crisis. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 14 of the 25 deadliest nations in the world for women, according to available data collected by the Small Arms Survey, which tracks violence globally. And Central America, the region where most of those seeking asylum in the United States are fleeing, is at the heart of the crisis.”
-- The United States is communicating with Venezuela’s socialist party boss secretly as members of President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle seek guarantees that they won’t face retribution if they collaborate with efforts to remove him. From the AP: “Diosdado Cabello, who is considered the most-powerful man in Venezuela after Maduro, met last month in Caracas with someone who is in close contact with the Trump administration, said the official. A second meeting is in the works but has not yet taken place. … Cabello, 56, is a major power broker inside Venezuela, who has seen his influence in the government and security forces expand as Maduro’s grip on power has weakened. But he’s also been accused by U.S. officials of being behind massive corruption, drug trafficking and even death threats against a sitting U.S. senator. The administration official said that under no circumstances is the U.S. looking to prop up Cabello or pave the way for him to substitute Maduro. Instead, the goal of the outreach is to ratchet up pressure on the regime by contributing to the knife fight the U.S. believes is taking place behind the scenes among competing circles of power within the ruling party.”
-- Trump suggested that the U.S. station Navy ships along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country. The president reportedly told national security officials that the U.S. should “get the ships out there” and do a naval embargo, sources told Axios, to “prevent anything going in.”
-- A leaked memo showed that the British government is preparing for economic and social chaos in the event of a “no-deal Brexit.” Karla Adam and Hannah Knowles report: “The costs of food and social care would rise, while medicines could be delayed, the Sunday Times reported. Border delays would interrupt fuel supplies. Ports would suffer severe disruptions and recover only partially after three months, leaving traffic at 50 to 70 percent of the current flow. Those are some of the effects predicted by ‘Operation Yellowhammer,’ which the newspaper said was compiled this month by Britain’s Cabinet Office and available to those with ‘need to know’ security clearances. … Government ministers pushed back against the reports on Sunday, saying the documents were outdated and the government had ramped up its no-deal planning in recent weeks.”
-- Gibraltar rejected a U.S. request to seize an Iranian oil tanker. Liz Sly reports: “[A] Gibraltar court ruled that the American sanctions on Iran, which were imposed by Trump after he walked away from the Iran nuclear deal last year, do not apply in the European Union. … Late on Sunday night, the tanker left Gibraltar and sailed into the Mediterranean with a stated destination of the Greek port of Kalamata, according to the website marinetraffic.com. … Among the charges laid out in the U.S. warrant is that the tanker was facilitating terrorism because of the involvement in Iran’s oil industry of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is designated a terrorist organization by the United States. The Gibraltar ruling noted that the E.U. does not regard the IRGC as a terrorist organization.”
-- The sexual harassment accusations leveled against Plácido Domingo, one of opera’s biggest stars, have led to differing responses in Europe than in the United States, highlighting a geographic divide in the #MeToo movement. From the Times: “Two American institutions, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera, swiftly canceled their upcoming concerts with him, citing their need to provide safe environments. But none of Mr. Domingo’s many upcoming performances in Europe were canceled, as presenters there decided on a wait-and-see approach. Singers were divided, too. More than two dozen rallied to Mr. Domingo’s defense, offering testimonials about his kindness and professionalism. One of opera’s biggest divas, Anna Netrebko, wrote on Instagram that she was looking forward to sharing the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera next month ‘with fantastic Placido Domingo!’ But some others took to social media to urge that the accusations should be taken seriously in light of classical music’s belated reckoning with harassment and abuse.”
-- Foreign companies in the United States worry Trump is putting them last with his “America First” policies. David J. Lynch reports: “This would seem like a good time for DSM, the Dutch life sciences giant, to expand its sprawling manufacturing complex here. … But DSM is not adding to its local plant or workforce. In fact, the company is delaying new investment at all of its 32 U.S. sites while executives try to determine whether they — and other foreign-owned employers — are really welcome under President Trump. The hesitation to commit new cash to the U.S. follows what executives say is a troubling shift in the president’s ‘America First’ rhetoric, stressing the citizenship of a company’s owners rather than the location of its workforce. … The unusual statement now is undermining Commerce Department efforts to attract job-creating overseas investment, as many executives worry their foreign enterprises might be discriminated against.”
-- Trump confirmed that he's interested in buying Greenland, despite the island not being for sale. Felicia Sonmez and Tory Newmyer report: “‘Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done,’ Trump told reporters in Morristown, N.J., after wrapping up a 10-day vacation at his private golf club. He noted that owning Greenland ‘would be nice’ for the United States from a strategic perspective, but he cautioned: ‘It’s not number one on the burner, I can tell you that.’ … Kudlow confirmed Trump’s interest in Greenland, noting that the self-governing country is a ‘strategic place.’ ‘It’s developing. We’re looking at it,’ Kudlow said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘Denmark owns Greenland. Denmark is an ally. Greenland is a strategic place. . . . I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look.’”
-- The Danish prime minister called Trump’s interest in buying Greenland “absurd.” "Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Sunday told newspaper Sermitsiaq. "I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously." (CNN)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
A Times reporter spotted some of the first family's luggage outside Air Force One:
Louis Vitton luggage being removed from the baggage hold of AF1. pic.twitter.com/xlWdqpJfCh— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 18, 2019
Trump has the reverse Midas touch. Fresh polling shows that public support for free trade is growing because of his protectionist policies:
As with immigration (https://t.co/KgANwGLj92), Trump has driven support for free trade to new highs https://t.co/KgANwGLj92. The idea that he has some magical power over public opinion on these issues is just wrong. pic.twitter.com/B69bHt030f— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) August 18, 2019
Warren enjoyed a Michelob Ultra with staffers at her South Carolina headquarters:
The chair of the Federal Election Commission asked Trump to explain some claims he made recently:
SAD: Last night, @realDonaldTrump again made unfounded claims about massive voter fraud in NH in 2016.— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) August 16, 2019
In this letter, I ask him to back up his claims in terms a former casino operator should understand: “There comes a time when you need to lay your cards on the table or fold.” pic.twitter.com/vkddT1jGmH
A Yale history professor reminded us of one of Washington's old traditions:
This has been rattling around in my head for days.— Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) August 16, 2019
In 1789, newly installed President Washington visited EVERY congressional boardinghouse, got off his horse, bowed to the congressmen, then left for the next boardinghouse.
To show his respect for the People's Branch.
The New York Times released its #1619Project, a collection of stories, essays and reports published in observation of the 400th anniversary of American slavery. Many rushed to their local newsstands to pick up a copy of yesterday's edition:
Stopped by an actual newsstand to get the NYTM today. The vendor asked me “Everyone ask me for the New York Times Magazine today — why?” I pointed to the small gold lettering marking the 1619 Project. Well done @nhannahjones. Well done. #1619Project pic.twitter.com/Xdut1Oaqbf— jelani cobb (@jelani9) August 18, 2019
Many leading conservatives criticized the initiative:
The NY Times 1619 Project should make its slogan “All the Propaganda we want to brainwash you with”.it is a repudiation of the original NY Times motto.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) August 18, 2019
It’s also deeply cynical—at a time when racial tensions are raw, for the NYT to be deliberately stoking the fires of racial tension & hatred. Ironically, their approach is the obverse of their original headline (before they succumbed to the mob): “NYT Urges Racism Vs Unity.” https://t.co/Pyuzdhd1PP— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 18, 2019
Liberal politicians touted the project:
We must speak this truth: the very foundation of our country was built on the backs of enslaved people.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 18, 2019
The #1619Project—in print today in the Sunday @nytimes—is a masterpiece from @nhannahjones and her colleagues at @NYTmag. pic.twitter.com/cBsSN69rb3
Many pundits weighed in:
People who are upset by the 1619 Project are not unaware of the cruel fact that America was born buying & selling people. BUYING. & SELLING. PEOPLE. They know. But they want those who follow and worship them not to know, so they can continue to rule and profit and claim virtue.— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) August 18, 2019
Slavery lasted 250 years . Black people were second class citizens *as a matter of law* for another 100. It’s astounding that people pearl-clutch over the very idea that just a generation later, racism might still be pervasive, and that this is something we should talk about.— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) August 19, 2019
And, across the country, Americans rallied against gun violence and in support of gun control over the weekend:
There are rallies across the country today organized by @MomsDemand and @Everytown demanding that the U.S. Senate pass legislation to require background checks on all gun sales along with a Red Flag law. A march in Baltimore just started. pic.twitter.com/qV1lYEvghS— Kyle Stewart (@KyleAlexStewart) August 17, 2019
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Some things of our destiny we can’t control, like hurricanes and cancer," said Kathleen Blanco, the first female governor of Louisiana, last year. She led the state during Hurricane Katrina. Blanco died Sunday from complications from ocular melanoma. She was 76. (The Baton Rouge Advocate)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The third-person-in-chief? Trump keeps referring to himself in third person:
Hong Kong demonstrators protested peacefully and in the rain for the 11th weekend in a row:
I love Hong Kong. We deserve democracy and freedom. How can Beijing blame us as Rioters? pic.twitter.com/V1vz6lRvJz— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) August 19, 2019
John Oliver discussed the roles gender and racial bias can play in medical treatments: