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August 27, 2014

Both Parties Brace for Obama Immigration Decision

"Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety over the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November's midterm elections," the Washington Post reports.

"In the past few days, Democratic candidates in nearly every closely fought Senate race have criticized the idea of aggressive action by Obama. Some strategists say privately that it would signal the president has written off the Democrats' prospects for retaining control of the chamber, deciding to focus on securing his own legacy instead."

Iowa Lawmaker Guilty of Receiving Illegal Payments

Former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) has pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving concealed payments from then-Rep. Ron Paul's (R) presidential campaign and then obstructing the investigation into the incident, the Des Moines Register reports.

The ISIS Economy

"The Islamic State runs a self-sustaining economy across territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, pirating oil while exacting tribute from a population of at least eight million, Arab and Western officials said, making it one of the world's richest terror groups and an unprecedented threat," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"That illicit economy presents a new picture of Islamic State's financial underpinnings. The group was once thought to depend on funding from Arab Gulf donors and donations from the broader Muslim world. Now, Islamic State--the former branch of al Qaeda that has swallowed parts of Iraq and Syria--is a largely self-financed organization."

Walker Holds Edge in Wisconsin

A new Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) with a slim lead over challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 44%.

Deadlocked in Iowa

A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) and Bruce Braley (D) tied in the race for U.S. Senate, 40% to 40%.

GOP Lawmaker Threatens Government Shutdown

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said "the threat of another government shutdown could be Republicans' leverage to pass border security and immigration legislation this fall," the Des Moines Register reports.

Said King: "If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear... I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."

What to do in Syria?

First Read: "Strikingly, it was exactly a year ago when Washington was debating about what to do in Syria -- back then, it was over the Assad regime's chemical weapons. A year later, Syria is once again in the news -- this time over whether to strike ISIS in the region. Of course, the circumstances are different. Assad's chemical weapons weren't viewed as the same threat to the United States that ISIS is (if unchecked). And a year ago, when it wasn't election season, members of Congress were eager to debate whether to authorize limited airstrikes in Syria."

"Today, in the midst of campaign season, many politicians (though there are some exceptions like Sens. Tim Kaine and Bob Corker) are notably silent on the subject... Despite those differences, the larger storyline is the same between Aug. 2013 and Aug. 2014: Syria remains the Obama administration's most difficult foreign-policy problem. (How do you curb the Shiite Assad regime? How also do you stop the Sunni ISIS militants there?) And Syria presents the danger that if you start getting involved, it becomes hard to stop. "

Bonus Quote of the Day

"There's only one thing Barack Obama needs to keep his grip on power. He needs the U.S. Senate!"

-- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by the New York Times Magazine.

Crist Wouldn't Be First Party Switcher Elected in Florida

Morning Line: "If Charlie Crist wins the governorship -- for the second time -- this fall he would become the first governor in Florida history to ever win as a member of two different parties... Crist would also be only the second Florida governor in 117 years -- and only the second since it achieved statehood -- to serve two non-consecutive terms. Gov. William Bloxham served as governor from 1881 to 1885 and was later elected again 12 years later... Crist, though, would not be the first party-switcher in state history to serve as governor. Three Florida governors before him actually switched parties before holding office, but none to the Democratic Party."

Roll Call: How and when to switch political parties

Boehner Haters Head Back to Congress

Bloomberg: "Ten of the 12 House Republicans who didn't support John Boehner's 2013 selection as speaker are cruising to November victories, despite the business community's attempts to knock some of them off."

"It's an ominous twist in the Republican civil war between the Tea Party and the business community. Neither side had enough power to annihilate the other, so the fight goes into the 2016 presidential campaign. The House rebels could thwart the work of Senate Republican candidates, who were backed by corporate cash and have promised to move legislation."

GOP Candidates Credit Koch Brothers for Their Rise

"Three top Republican Senate candidates heaped praise on the political network built by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch during a secretive conference held by the brothers this past summer," the Huffington Post reports.

"For all three, the association with the Koch brothers' network is likely to provide kindling for their opponents, who have already argued that the Republicans are steered by deep-pocketed conservatives."

Hagan Doesn't Avoid Obama

Rick Klein: "The pictures of Sen. Kay Hagan greeting President Obama in Charlotte weren't on the Charlie Crist level. (That level of political infamy ranks alongside the Joe Lieberman-George W. Bush embrace, history enshrined by Crist's victory in the Democratic primary for governor Tuesday.) Yet how Hagan handled the presidential visit suggests a realization that while Obama can't and won't help virtually any endangered Democrat this year, the president's negative effects are already baked into the electoral cake."

McConnell Explains Plans to Shut Down Government

The Nation has audio of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) telling a room of conservative activists how Republicans will shut down parts of the government if they gain control of the U.S. Senate.

Said McConnell: "So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what's called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We're going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible). All across the federal government, we're going to go after it..."

See more...

Ex-Lt. Governor Rips Scott in New Book

In a new book, former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R) "describes the misery of being in a 'boys' club' led by Gov. Rick Scott (R), who showed no interest in her ideas to reach out to black and Hispanic voters and whose staff members treated her shabbily, the Miami Herald reports.

"Her story hits bookstores on Wednesday -- her birthday. By coincidence, her grievances about Scott will spill into public view on the very day he will launch his general election campaign for a second term."

Quote of the Day

"I had the chance of running. I didn't win. Someone else has a better chance than I do. And that's what we believe, and that's why I'm not running. And you know, circumstances can change, but I'm just not going to let my head go there."

-- Mitt Romney, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt.

Worst Comeback Attempt Ever

Former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL), "who served in Congress from 2011 to 2013, officially lost his hapless comeback bid Tuesday, falling short in the Republican primary election in Florida's 26th district," National Journal reports.

"It may have been the worst congressional comeback attempt of all time. Rivera lost the nomination, but he dominated the headlines. Throughout the race, he faced questions about his role in an alleged 2012 campaign finance scheme, sparred with the media, and even briefly suspended his campaign for unclear reasons--only to restart it just two weeks before the election."

Obama Will Bypass Congress on Climate Agreement

"The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress," the New York Times reports.

"In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world's largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate."

"To sidestep that requirement, President Obama's climate negotiators are devising what they call a 'politically binding' deal that would 'name and shame' countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path."

IMF Chief Under Investigation for Fraud

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde "has been placed under formal investigation by French magistrates for negligence in a political fraud affair dating from 2008 when she was finance minister," Reuters reports.

August 26, 2014

McDonnell Apologizes for Taking Gifts and Money

New York Times: "Five days of grueling, often contentious testimony by Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia governor accused of corruption, ended Tuesday with an apology from Mr. McDonnell for accepting so many gifts and so much money, but an emphatic denial that he had conspired with his wife to sell his office."

"The federal trial, already 22 days long, could go to the jury as early as Wednesday."

Rubio Hints at Government Shutdown Over Immigration

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says that Republicans will fight unilateral action by President Obama on immigration through the budget process, the Huffington Post reports.

Said Rubio: "There will have to be some sort of a budget vote or a continuing resolution vote, so I assume there will be some sort of a vote on this. I'm interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue."

"After Congress returns on Sept. 8, lawmakers will have just 10 working days to come to consensus on a continuing resolution to fund the government or risk a shutdown... Adding immigration to the debate would complicate matters further and potentially trigger a domestic crisis on the eve of the Nov. 4 midterm elections."

Close Three-Way Senate Race in Kansas

A new SurveyUSA poll in Kansas finds Sen. Pat Roberts (R) just five points ahead of challenger Chad Taylor (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 37% to 32%, with independent Greg Orman at 20%.

Police Union Won't Back Democratic Convention in Brooklyn

A New York Police Department union leader said he will not back Mayor Bill de Blasio's (D) bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, warning that New York City is reverting to its crime-ridden "old days" under the administration, Newsday reports.

Is Obamacare Helping Some GOP Governors?

Sam Wang notes that Republican governors who supported Obamacare's Medicaid expansion are being rewarded for it in recent polls.

"According to these data points, Republican governors who bucked their party's stance and accepted the policy are faring better with voters--in these races, an average of 8.5 percentage points better. Considering that crusading against Obamacare has been a core part of the G.O.P. playbook, this 8.5-point difference may come as a surprise. But it doesn't necessarily mean that voters' sentiments are driven entirely by health-care policy. Think of the Medicaid expansion as a 'proxy variable,' one that is predictive of stands on many other issues."

Behind Rick Perry's Indictment

"The trail to Rick Perry's indictment began with way too many drinks and a drunken-driving arrest for Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis County district attorney, that was captured in embarrassing detail on videotape," the New York Times reports.

"But the conflict between Republicans who control state government and the Democratic district attorney's office has been playing out for years, forming a complicated back story to the unfolding legal drama known as the State of Texas v. James Richard 'Rick' Perry."

Franken Up in Minnesota

A new SurveyUSA poll in Minnesota finds Sen. Al Franken (D) leading challenger Michael McFadden (R) in the U.S. Senate race by nine points, 51% to 42%.

In the race for governor, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) leads challenger Jeff Johnson (R) by the same margin, 49% to 40%.

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