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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.


Coming soon: Enough: Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly.

Perdue Opens Up Lead Over Nunn

A new Vox Populi Polling (R) survey finds David Perdue (R) with a nine-point lead over Michelle Nunn (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 40%, with 10% undecided.

The Most Frightening Congressional Candidate

David Wasserman: "As a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, I've personally interviewed over 300 congressional candidates over the course of seven years, both to get to know them and evaluate their chances of winning. I've been impressed by just as many Republicans as Democrats, and underwhelmed by equal numbers, too. Most are accustomed to tough questions."

"But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday. It's tough to decide which party's worst nightmare she would be."

Pentagon Will Investigate Plagiarism Charges

The Defense Department and the Department of the Army "will be reviewing the plagiarism allegations against Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army War College, where Walsh allegedly used the work of other people in his 2007 thesis for a master's degree," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The school said that because Walsh is a member of Congress and a former military serviceman, the Defense Department's Office of the Inspector General has authority to review the investigation."

A new Gravis Marketing poll finds Steve Daines (R) has increased his over Walsh from four points to seven points, 45% to 38%, since the plagiarism scandal began.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"In '06 I put a lot of my own money into the race, some people took away that I was trying to buy the race. This time I'm really focused on showing I have a broad base of support. And also, quite frankly, I learned that if somebody writes you a ten dollar check they're going to vote for you."

-- Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts (R), quoted by Bloomberg.

Stephen Colbert's Angry Echo Chamber

Stephen Colbert takes on the Sarah Palin Channel. Just brilliant.

See more...

Can More Campaign Money Reduce Polarization?

Ray LaRaja and Brian Schaffner: "In our forthcoming book, we show that campaign finance laws that empower parties do lead to less polarization. Party organizations do, in fact, behave differently than other partisan groups by mediating ideological sources of money and funneling it to moderate candidates. It may seem counterintuitive to fight polarization by empowering parties, but states with 'party-centered' campaign finance laws tend to be less polarized than states that constrain how the parties can support candidates."

"We are not arguing that campaign finance laws are the underlying cause of polarization. But the rules often advantage the most ideological elements in each party coalition, who have an abiding interest in pushing for candidates who espouse their views of the world."

Ezra Klein highlights a chart comes from the authors which shows "what most people intuitively know: the small minority of people who fund American politics are much, much more politically polarized than the vast majority of people who don't contribute to campaigns."

Democrats Cashing In on Impeachment Talk

"Republicans hoped that by filing a lawsuit against President Obama -- a move that is expected to win House endorsement Wednesday -- they would mobilize conservatives eager for a confrontation with the White House. But so far it appears to be rallying Democrats at least as much as Republicans," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Warning that the lawsuit is just the first step toward impeachment, Democrats have turned the GOP strategy into their own fundraising and motivational tool, flooding supporters with emails in recent weeks."

Warren Backers Don't Want Her to Run for President

David Freedlander notes that if Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) "does in fact reverse her repeated denials of interest and decides to run for president, she will have to do so virtually alone. That's because almost to a person, her earliest and most devoted backers do not want her to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination."

Economy Rebounds Strongly

"The U.S. economy rebounded strongly this spring after a first-quarter contraction, eking out positive growth over the past six months and raising hopes for sustained growth in the second half of 2014," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Turning the Midterms Into a Base Election

First Read: "So both sides are playing this cynical game, turning the midterms into a base election that will be decided by who best motivates their base rather than by trying to fix the country's problems. (Republicans: 'This President is breaking the law!' Democrats: 'They want to impeach the president!') And what's particularly jarring is that this isn't taking place on the campaign trail -- but rather from their official capacities at the White House and on Capitol Hill. It's beneath the White House, and it's beneath the speaker. And each side can rationalize their actions all they want, but all its doing is reinforcing the decision by MILLIONS of Americans who have chosen not to participate in the political process this year that they made the right decision. The leaders in both parties aren't taking their frustrations seriously. Instead, leaders in Washington are falling back on base turnout gimmicks."

How Religion Determines Your Politics

Wonk Wire: Strong connection between religion and political identity

Rhode Island Democratic Chair Quits

Rhode Island Democratic party chairman David Caprio resigned Tuesday, saying he couldn't "dedicate the the necessary time and energy" to help candidates in their campaigns, the Providence Journal reports.

His resignation came a day after reports that the state police are investigating a contract awarded to Caprio for beach concessions.

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