Shutdown Looms

Tuesday, January 16, 2018Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 9.01.43 AM

Good Tuesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Acrimony after President Trump’s incendiary comments last week has made it less likely that Congress will reach a spending and immigration deal by Friday. Fear of voter retribution is not limited to Republicans, who control both chambers. Democrats also are facing a growing schism in party messaging that could hurt them at the polls.

  • Experts fear that the president’s remarks about shithole countries could set back United States interests in Africa, the world’s fastest-growing continent.

  • The Trump administration says that its moves to step up immigration raids on workplaces, including raids last week on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores, show the price of employing workers illegally. The message is being felt keenly among the workers themselves.
  • Last year’s women’s marches, in Washington and across the country, gave many women a taste for activism. But differing priorities and tactics have emerged, sometimes damaging the solidarity.
  • Moderate Democrats, drawing criticism from progressive colleagues, have joined Republicans to support legislation that would relax many rules and regulatory obligations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.
— The First Draft Team
On Washington

Sharper State Divide in Congress Is Seen as New Civil War

The Capitol building in Washington earlier this month. Congress has been experiencing a rise in states represented by a single party in the House and Senate.

The Capitol building in Washington earlier this month. Congress has been experiencing a rise in states represented by a single party in the House and Senate. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

A potential backlash from the new tax law and President Trump’s unpopularity in Democratic-leaning states could combine to turn swaths of blue America even bluer in this year’s elections, a development likely to deepen already intense polarization in Congress.
Recent retirement announcements of two senior House Republicans from California put control of their seats in jeopardy and, coupled with some recruiting failures, exacerbated Republican fears of steep midterm losses. The prospect of multiple Republican defeats in California as well as New York and New Jersey threatens to diminish the already thinning ranks of more centrist Republicans.
Democrats might cheer such an outcome. But the long-term result could be a Congress that is more insular, as well as an increase in situations such as the new tax law. In that case, Republicans squeezed revenue from states dominated by Democrats and returned the benefits to Republican strongholds elsewhere across the country.
If House delegations become more sharply divided by state, such geographic favoritism could become more prevalent because the majority party would have less incentive to consider the interests of states where they have little or no membership at political risk. The concern is that lawmakers would retreat even further into their ideological camps, staring warily across state lines.
Read more »
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey lashed out against the creation of an American-trained force that may position thousands of Kurdish militia fighters along Turkey’s southern border.

Turkey’s President Assails U.S.-Trained Kurdish Border Force


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey criticized a proposed American-trained force that could put thousands of Kurdish militia on the Turkish border.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that statistical evidence said to show that Wisconsin’s voting districts had been warped by political gerrymandering struck him as “sociological gobbledygook.”

A Case for Math, Not ‘Gobbledygook,’ in Judging Partisan Voting Maps


If courts are to combat voting districts warped by politics, a judge wrote, they must take account of advances in social science.

A portrait of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hangs in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. King preached. School children toured the building on Friday during an event celebrating the birthday of Dr. King.

Two of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Children Speak Out Against Trump


In Atlanta and in Washington, the children of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. criticized President Trump for his language about people from some countries.

50 Years Later, It Feels Familiar: How America Fractured in 1968

It was a violent year. Liberals reeled, a war dragged on and protests raged. People got all their news from radio, TV and newspapers. But what if they’d had phones vibrating with modern news alerts?

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Willis L. Krumholz in The Federalist:
“The problem, fundamentally, is that Congress has given our intelligence agencies too much power, and refuses to check these agencies even when they flagrantly abuse the vast powers they have been granted.”
Mr. Krumholz cites what he sees as abuses of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as an argument against reauthorization of the provision. He is particularly concerned with the process known as unmasking, wherein government officials can find out the identities of Americans participating in foreign communications picked up by intelligence agencies. Despite their best intentions to prevent terrorism and crime, he argues, intelligence agencies are not immune from a central tenet of human nature: “Unaccountable power corrupts and would be abused by even the best of us.” Read more »
From the Left
Trevor Timm in NBC News:
“Democrats should have had the foresight to roll back the Bush-era surveillance laws under President Obama; it’s unconscionable to now hand Trump even more leverage to seek retribution and give him a green light to conduct unconstitutional surveillance on Americans.”
Mr. Timm, the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, takes aim at Democrats who joined with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, and other Republicans to extend the N.S.A.’s ability to spy on Americans without a warrant. He singles out the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, for being staunch critics of the Trump administration while simultaneously granting it more power. Mr. Timm urges Senate Democrats to correct the mistake their colleagues in the House made in Thursday’svote. Read more »
More selections »