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Mitch McConnell: I sure hope Trump brings his eventual North Korea deal to the Senate for ratification

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No you don’t, Mitch. For cripes sake. Responsibility for foreign affairs is no longer in Congress’s job description and that’s just the way Congress likes it.

“There is widespread interest in Congress in having some involvement in this,” McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. “I hope it takes the form of a treaty.”…

McConnell said Trump can decide whether an agreement should be cleared by Congress in the form of a treaty, which requires two-thirds support of the Senate…

“Which route the administration takes is up to them, but I do believe they’ll need to come to Congress in some form,” McConnell said. “We’ll wait and see what form that is.”

I can’t help but notice that all of this is being framed in terms of things he hopes Trump does, right down to whether it’s submitted as a treaty (which would require two-thirds of the chamber for ratification) or as something else. If McConnell cared about this, it wouldn’t be phrased as a “hope.” It would be phrased as a demand.

As I say, Congress wants nothing to do with foreign affairs anymore. They get nothing out of it politically. Better to lie low when the president wants to do something abroad, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. That applies first and foremost to authorizing military adventures: Why would you want your fingerprints on a new bombing campaign when there’s no telling how badly things might go? Especially if you’re a Democrat: Republicans are on the hook for whatever Trump does whether they formally support his policies or not but Democrats aren’t. Why gamble by voting yes on a military excursion that might go sideways and piss off your base or by voting no on one that might turn out well and be popular? Same with the North Korea deal. If Trump strikes a bargain with Kim, Republicans will sink or swim to some extent according to how the deal turns out regardless of whether they ratify it. Why should they take the risk of formally taking a position on it when they don’t need to? And why would Democrats want the dilemma or whether to block it or not knowing that it may be the last hope for peace?

Let’s be real. Trump’s agreement with Kim could consist in its entirety of the words “FART NOISE” and the GOP would have to vote for it. Trump is expecting this to be his crowning achievement, an example of him cutting a foreign-policy Gordian knot that mere mortals like Obama couldn’t begin to untie. MAGA Nation is already foursquare behind him. The Senate GOP torpedoing his deal would be an unthinkable affront to the base, even worse than supporting the bill Bob Corker’s been pushing to reclaim Trump’s power over tariffs. You cross a cult of personality on which you depend for your own reelection at your peril. Senate Republicans will all vote for it, very reluctantly, if they’re forced and McConnell knows it. So why would he invite it?

One of two reasons, I think. Either he believes there’s zero chance of Trump actually striking a deal with Kim, in which case he’s making a promise here that he’ll never be asked to keep, or he figures there’ll be some procedural chicanery involved eventually to bail out the majority from a tough vote a la Corker’s Iran-deal bill that allowed that agreement to take effect so long as a resolution of *disapproval* (which could be easily filibustered) didn’t pass the Senate. It’s unthinkable that Trump would submit his North Korea deal as a treaty knowing Democrats would likely block it and it’s almost as unthinkable that he’d submit it as simple legislation to both houses knowing how reluctant GOPers will be to gamble on it. (Needless to say, if Democrats take back one or more houses of Congress this fall, the new majority could block it as well.) There’s really no congressional option here that works for the White House *and* the GOP unless Trump makes a deal so good that there’s no downside in supporting it. Which, c’mon.

In lieu of an exit question, here’s the film that Trump screened for Kim yesterday, which makes me feel slightly high after watching it. As a million people have noted, it looks like some sort of Scientology indoctrination video. Presumably that’s because whoever created it concluded that that’s the cinematic language Kim himself speaks: Since he’s used to “conversing” on politics with his own citizenry through the most heavy-handed propaganda, heavy-handed propaganda is the way America will try to converse with him. Good luck!

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Forecast: GOP now more likely to have *at least* 54 Senate seats next year than to lose its majority

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A nifty catch by Philip Klein, eyeballing the latest data from Nate Silver’s model (as of 5:15 p.m. ET). Check it yourself. Democrats momentarily have an 18.4 percent chance of gaining two seats and winning a majority next month. Whereas Republicans have a 9.1 percent chance of gaining three, a 5.5 percent chance of gaining four, a 3.2 percent chance of gaining five, a 1.4 percent of gaining six, a 0.7 percent chance of gaining seven, and a 0.3 percent chance of shooting the lights out and gaining eight (which would leave them one seat shy of a filibuster-proof majority, for what it’s worth). Add those up and you get a 20.2 percent chance of 54 or better.

Which can be summed up in four words: Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Klein on the path to 54:

Though Republicans were always favorites to keep the Senate, their odds have improved in recent weeks, with three states in particular giving them a boost. Republicans are now considered “likely” to keep their seats in Texas and Tennessee and North Dakota seems ready to flip into the Republican column. Barring any other major upsets, victories in those three races would be enough for Republicans to keep the Senate — hence their 81.6 percent chances overall.

To get to 54, the most likely scenario would be that Republicans win the tossup states of Nevada and Missouri, and then surge to victory in Arizona and Florida (two races that are currently tilting Democrat, but well within range of Republican victory). Beyond that, they’d have to start flipping some seats that are currently considered “likely” to remain Democrat, such as Montana and West Virginia.

Eh, I don’t know if Montana and Indiana, the latter of which he neglected to mention, are all that “likely” to remain Democratic. They’re leaning that way, with both Jon Tester and Joe Donnelly clinging to three-point leads. But Montana hasn’t been polled in three weeks and the latest from Indiana has Donnelly up four but with just 44 percent of the vote. In fact, in none of the four polls dating back to August has Donnelly topped 44, suggesting that a lot of Hoosiers are thinking hard about whether to stick with the incumbent. It’s likely that the GOP will be disappointed somewhere on Election Night — Missouri, Nevada, and Arizona are all leading candidates — but going for one for two on Montana and Indiana seems doable.

Whichever way they do it, if they can get to 54 then Collins and Murkowski might well be nonfactors during the next SCOTUS battle. Flake won’t be in the Senate at all, of course. Trump really might have the arsenal he needs to fill a Ginsburg or Breyer vacancy with a conservative.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news, also from Silver’s model:

Click the link and add up the different probable outcomes and you’ll see that the GOP has about the same odds of holding the House as Democrats do of winning … at least 54 seats. They’ve got a 10 percent chance of winning at least 60. Gonna be a lot of subpoenas for Pat Cipollone to cope with next year.

There are no new swing-state polls as I write this but keep an eye on the one of Arizona that’s currently in progress (yes, in progress) at the NYT’s site, the Upshot. As I write this at a little after 5 p.m. on the east coast, they’ve compiled a sample of 299 people — not large enough yet to give us confidence in the topline numbers but large enough to make it worth paying attention to. Currently Martha McSally leads Kyrsten Sinema by four points, 49/45. If that holds through the end of the poll, it would be the second straight survey showing McSally ahead after trailing for most of the race. (The previous poll had her up six.) Stay tuned.

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Midterm 2018 TEXAS: Robert (Beto) O’Rourke vs. Ted Cruz

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Texas is Texas.

You don’t mess with Texas!

Texans don’t want a far left US Senator who lies about his background and police records, DUI included, and abuses everything the Lone Star State stands for.

Senator Ted Cruz is up by at least 5 points — but that is not enough.

Cruz is a real conservative and an intellectual giant. He has the highest possible ratings from conservative groups as a sitting US Senator.


We can’t let him down.

His opponent Beto (really Robert) O’Rourke isn’t Hispanic but he is loudly PROGRESSIVE.

He is a phony.

He is a Democratic Socialist and would spell doom for our Republic.

He wants open borders, more rights for criminals, and an end to the petroleum economy.

In Texas?

Trump won Texas by 9 points.

Cruz should win reelection by at least that amount.

Recall Cruz not only voted for Judge Kavanaugh but he articulately defended due process and innocent until proven guilty – the very hallmark of western jurisprudence.

We need him; America needs his voice in the Senate.

There has not been a Democrat to hold statewide office in Texas since 1994!

Keep it that way.

Cruz is a star in national politics and a firm vote for our side. He makes America first! And he is the best advocate for Texas bare none.

Turnout is critical.

Cruz MUST win.

Make this viral in every corner of Texas.

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Pat Robertson: C’mon, we’re not going to blow up a key Middle East alliance over one little murder

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Lefties are marveling that a brand-name Christian conservative would be encouraging followers to look the other way at an assassination, but they’re forgetting Jesus’s parting words at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: “If you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs.”

Wait, am I misremembering? My youthful memories of the gospels are not the best. I think perhaps the savior’s actual parting words were “Velvet glove, iron fist.”

I mean, that at least sounds like Jesus.

Lotta mixed feelings about the evangelical turn towards hard-nosed realpolitik under Trump. On the one hand, the gripe about Christian conservatives used to be that they were forever trying to inject morals into the messy business of politics, made more uncomfortable by the fact that many millions of people disagree with some of their stances on sexual morality and resent their attempts to convert them into policy. Well, good news: Between Robertson’s take on the Khashoggi affair and the complete pass given to Trump on matters like Stormygate, there’s less moralizing than ever.

The bad news? I’m unclear from the clip below on how many murders Pastor Robertson would be willing to tolerate in the name of preserving the alliance and “$100 billion worth of arms sales,” as he notes in passing. Presumably his interest in the latter answers my question: Some of those weapons will be used to continue killing civilians in neighboring Yemen, as he doubtless knows. If Robertson’s willing to condone that in the name of checking Iran, naturally he would condone looking the other way at a lot of things, Khashoggi’s murder just one among them. Christianity’s nice and all but we’ve gotta live in the real world.

I honestly don’t know whether to call him a fraud or to salute him for taking a cold but sober view of the international chessboard.

There may be another reason why he and POTUS’s friends at CBN are rushing to provide cover here, though:

To some extent the Saudis’ problem is Trump’s problem. Right now Trump can afford to ignore the Democrats’ interest in finding out how much his and the Kingdom’s interests overlap. In three months, with the House likely in Democratic hands, it’ll be harder.

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