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July 31, 2014

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

Obama, Clinton Both on Martha's Vineyard Next Month

Boston Globe: "It's not a huge island, but there's always room for a lot of big names on Martha's Vineyard. Two weeks from now, two of the very biggest names in Democratic politics -- President Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton -- are set to be there at the same time."

Heritage Action Issues Call to Arms

Wall Street Journal: "Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, spent last year's August recess banging the drum for Congress to defund the 2010 health law, barnstorming the country to fuel conservatives' discontent with GOP leaders in Washington. The resulting standoff briefly shuttered the government."

"This year, the group is issuing a broader call-to-arms, challenging conservatives to renew their commitment to an agenda that champions a more-robust foreign policy and elevates marriage and religious liberty, as well as the same free-market economic populism that characterized its earlier initiatives."

Democrats Work to Shore Up Black Vote

"The DCCC has undertaken a new black voter outreach initiative -- which the committee says is the most expansive and expensive project in the history of the DCCC -- that has consisted of demographic focus groups, battleground polling, ad testing and renewed ground game in black neighborhoods," the Washington Post reports.

"In 15 of the top 25 House seats being targeted by the DCCC this cycle, African Americans make up at least 10 percent of the voting-age population. In close races that will likely be decided by just a few points, the DCCC believes boosting turnout among those black voters by just a few points could keep them be competitive in places they would otherwise lose this year."

Obama Expands Voting Rights Battle

"The Obama administration filed court papers Wednesday challenging Republican-backed election laws in Ohio and Wisconsin, as the legal fights over voting rights spread beyond traditional Southern borders," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Walker Gets Big Win Against Unions in Wisconsin

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Gov. Scott Walker's signature labor legislation Thursday in just one of the three major rulings issued by the court on union bargaining, election law and same-sex couples," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"In addition to ruling that Walker's labor law is constitutional, the state's highest court also upheld the state's voter ID law and upheld a 2009 law providing limited benefits to gay and lesbian couples."

U.S. Attorney Warns Cuomo on Ethics Case

"In an escalation of the confrontation between the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the governor's cancellation of his own anticorruption commission, Mr. Bharara has threatened to investigate the Cuomo administration for possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering," the New York Times reports.

Virginia Wrongly Questions Status of 125K Voters

"The Virginia Department of Elections has erroneously mailed notifications to about 125,000 registered Virginia voters raising uncertainty regarding their voting status," the Richmond Times Dispatch reports.

"The letter, dated June 23 and signed by Secretary of the State Board of Elections Don Palmer, informs the recipients that records show they may also be registered to vote in another state and that state law requires them to update or cancel their voter registration when they change residences."

Immigration Is Now Obama's Worst Issue

"Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama's worst issue -- definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency -- when it comes to public perception," The Fix reports.

"A new poll from AP-GfK shows more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) disapprove of Obama's handling of the immigration issue in general. Just 31 percent approve -- down from 38 percent two months ago. When you separate those most passionate about the issue, the difference is even more stark, with 57 percent opposed and just 18 percent in favor. That's more than three-to-one."

Comeback for DesJarlais?

"Two years is a lifetime in politics. Just ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Roll Call reports.

"GOP operatives had all but written off the Tennessee Republican. In October 2012, it was revealed the anti-abortion rights physician had encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage and had carried on multiple affairs with patients and co-workers -- an infraction for which he was fined $500 by a medical board."

But now, in the final days of a primary race with Time Tracy (R), DesJarlais "is in a better position than Republicans ever anticipated. He might even win."

Ginsburg Isn't Ready to Retire

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Yahoo News she has no plans to retire.

Said Ginsburg: "My answer is I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam. When I feel myself slipping. When I can no longer think as sharply, write as quickly, that will be the time for me to leave the court."

Quote of the Day

"We did not seek an impeachment of President Bush, because as an executive, he had his authority. President Obama has the authority."

-- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), quoted by BuzzFeed, apparently forgetting that she co-sponsored legislation to impeach President George W. Bush over the Iraq war.

Businessman Says Maureen McDonnell Asked for Money

"The wheeling-and-dealing Richmond businessman at the center of the corruption case against former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife stepped into public view Wednesday with a pivotal assertion: For $65,000, he testified, Maureen McDonnell said she would help his company, with her husband's blessing," the Washington Post reports.

Said Jonnie Williams: "She said to me, 'I have a background in nutritional supplements, and I can be helpful to you with this project with your company. The governor says it's okay for me to help you, but I need you to help me with this financial situation.'"

July 30, 2014

House Votes to Sue Obama

"The House voted mostly along party lines Wednesday to authorize suing President Obama, which Republicans called a principled move to rein in an increasingly lawless president and Democrats and the White House dismissed as a taxpayer-financed political stunt," Roll Call reports.

The Hill: "House Democratic leaders wasted no time Wednesday accusing Republicans of voting to sue President Obama as a first step toward their real goal: the impeachment of the Democratic president."

Said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): "This isn't about this lawsuit. This is about the road to impeachment."

Bush Wrote a Book About His Father

Former President George W. Bush has been working on a "highly personal project since leaving the White House: He has quietly completed a biography of his father, former President George H.W. Bush," the AP reports.

The book will be released on November 11.

Why Republicans Might Still Try to Impeach Obama

Joe Klein: "There is a chance that the Republicans will try to impeach the President, especially later in the summer, after he announces a major Executive Order that will affect a large number--millions, perhaps--of the illegal immigrants now in the country. There is speculation that it will be a further expansion of the legal status he conferred on children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents; perhaps the parents will now be included. There is likely to be an explosion if he does this--the Central American refugee crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has made immigration the hottest of domestic issues. It is also the most toxic issue for Republicans, who hope to win the presidency someday--and the Senate this November."

"House Speaker Boehner has said there will be no impeachment. That's why he instituted a rather silly lawsuit against the President over--yet again--Obamacare, which aides say could be expanded if Obama goes for broke on the border. Boehner is trying to placate the GOP base. But he also promised that there would be no government shutdown in 2013 and got trampled by his troops. The Speaker knows there's nothing the Democrats would rather have than impeachment and immigration as the dominant issues in the fall campaign. He also knows there's nothing Rush Limbaugh would rather have; indeed, it would be a ratings bonanza--the base would go berserk."

Peters Still Leads for Senate in Michigan

A new Rasmussen survey in Michigan finds Gary Peters (D) leading Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race by six points, 45% to 39%.

Democratic Poll Gives Pryor the Edge

A new Anzalone Liszt Grove (D) poll in Arkansas finds Sen. Mark Pryor (D) leading challenger Tom Cotton (R) by two points in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 46%.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I see this as sort of a ridiculous gambit by the President and his political team to try and change the narrative, raise money and turn out their base and raise money for an election that isn't going to go their way. And I will just leave it at that."

-- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), in an interview with CNN, on the possibility of Republicans trying to impeach President Obama.

Who Is Talking More About Impeachment?

Nate Silver: "The scoreboard so far in July: Fox News has 95 mentions of impeachment, and MSNBC 448. That works out to about 2.7 mentions per hour of original programming on MSNBC, or once every 22 minutes."

Obama Tells Republicans to Stop Being Hateful

President Obama asked Republicans to stop "hating" and "being mad all the time" during a Wednesday speech, The Hill reports.

Said Obama: ""Stop being mad all the time. Stop. Stop just hating all the time. C'mon ... I know they're not happy that I'm president but that's okay. I got a couple of years left. C'mon ... then you can be mad at the next president."

On Wonk Wire

Some great clicks over at Wonk Wire:

Congress Sprints to a Chaotic Finish

Roll Call: "A Congress known for its dysfunction and acrimony may be on the verge of a rare triple combo -- passing major bills addressing the border crisis, the Veterans Affairs scandal and the Highway Trust Fund in one week. But if it happens, it's going to be like the rest of the 113th: ugly."

Does Chris Christie Still Have a Chance in 2016?

Maggie Haberman: "No one believes Christie has returned to his old pole position -- and there's a strong current of thought in GOP circles that even absent the traffic scandal, Christie will be too damaged by New Jersey's tattered economy and broken pension system to return to the top tier of presidential contenders. But wishful thinking or not, his backers say it's too early -- and the GOP field too fluid -- to count Christie out. "

What We Still Don't Know About Richard Nixon

Evan Thomas: "Richard Nixon taped roughly 3,700 hours of his conversations as president. About 3,000 hours of those tapes have been released, while the rest remain closed to protect family privacy or national security. The public has a general impression of what's on the Nixon White House tapes--the expletives deleted, the so-called "smoking gun" when Nixon appeared to try to use the CIA to derail the FBI investigation of Watergate, the slurs against blacks and Jews."

"But very few people have actually listened to more than a few hours of tapes. Less than five percent of the recordings have been transcribed or published. The tapes... will in time give us a much clearer and more accurate picture of Richard Nixon. Two tapes-based books published this summer, timed to the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, go a long way toward showing Nixon's underappreciated geopolitical genius and how he became the victim of his own emotionalism."

The books he reviews: The Nixon Tapes by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter and Chasing Shadows by Ken Hughes.

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