Good Sunday morning. BUZZ — SOME HOUSE DEMOCRATS are talking about skipping the State of the Union in January.
THE PRESIDENT is at Trump International Golf Club this morning. He is scheduled to return to Washington later today. TRUMP’S MONDAY: The president is lunching with VP Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. He will also sign a space policy directive.
Story Continued Below
BEHIND THE SCENES AT 1600 — THE BIG STORY — “INSIDE TRUMP’S HOUR-BY-HOUR BATTLE FOR SELF-PRESERVATION,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker: “Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to ‘Fox & Friends’ for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day.
“Energized, infuriated — often a gumbo of both — Mr. Trump grabs his iPhone. Sometimes he tweets while propped on his pillow, according to aides. Other times he tweets from the den next door, watching another television. Less frequently, he makes his way up the hall to the ornate Treaty Room, sometimes dressed for the day, sometimes still in night clothes, where he begins his official and unofficial calls.
“As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.
“For other presidents, every day is a test of how to lead a country, not just a faction, balancing competing interests. For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation. He still relitigates last year’s election, convinced that the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russia’s interference is a plot to delegitimize him. Color-coded maps highlighting the counties he won were hung on the White House walls. …
— KEY PARAGRAPH: “Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals. People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.” http://nyti.ms/2Ap5Fe1
— NYT NOTE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STORY: “Glenn Thrush contributed to this article before he was suspended pending the result of an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior.”
IN ISRAEL — AP at 7:51 a.m.: “JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police: Security guard seriously wounded in stabbing at Jerusalem’s central bus station.”
— DAVID KENNER in Foreign Policy: “Trump Administration Blindsided Palestinian Leaders on Jerusalem Designation”: “Just last week, Palestinian diplomats were cautiously optimistic that U.S. President Donald Trump was on a path that could deliver what the president termed the ‘ultimate deal’ — a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“According to a senior Palestinian official, their optimism was bolstered by a series of interactions with Trump, culminating in a previously unreported meeting on Nov. 30. The meeting included Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, who met with three senior Palestinian intelligence and diplomatic officials.
“The American side, however, did not inform the Palestinian delegation that Trump would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the meeting — even though the president had insisted on doing so in internal deliberations days earlier.
“The meeting, which was confirmed by a National Security Council official, a former U.S. diplomat, and a senior Palestinian official, was held as the first news reports that the Trump administration would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital were already breaking. The Palestinian delegation asked whether Trump would sign the waiver to prevent the U.S. Embassy from moving to Jerusalem, which the president did sign this week, but the American side did not volunteer the additional information about Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.” http://atfp.co/2BXzm37
— “Israeli defense chief calls for Arab boycott after protests,” by AP’s Aron Heller in Jerusalem: “Israel’s defense minister called Sunday for a boycott of Arab businesses in an area where residents took part in violent protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, said the Arabs of Wadi Ara in northern Israel were ‘not part of us’ and that Jewish Israelis should no longer visit their villages and buy their products. Hundreds of Israeli Arabs protested Saturday along a major highway in northern Israel, where dozens of masked rioters hurled stones at buses and police vehicles. Three Israelis were wounded and several vehicles were damaged.” http://bit.ly/2kNVOYg
— REUTERS/BEIRUT: “Violence flares at protest near U.S. Embassy in Lebanon”: “Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water canons at protesters near the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon on Sunday during a demonstration against President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” http://reut.rs/2Ar3max
— CHEAT SHEET: “The Jerusalem Issue, Explained,” by NYT’s Max Fisher: http://nyti.ms/2ycz6u5
CALLING IN THE REINFORCEMENTS — “Booker, Patrick rally black Alabamians for Jones,” by Gabe Debenedetti in Selma, Alabama: “Democrat Doug Jones needs African-American voters to turn out in big numbers for him to have a shot at beating Roy Moore in Tuesday’s Alabama Senate election. So the former U.S. attorney brought in two of his most prominent surrogates on Saturday to help: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
“Their message, amid fears of lagging enthusiasm among black voters and polls showing a neck-and-neck race between Jones and Moore, was that there is no simply excuse for not voting in this election. ‘I know you all made, already, a million phone calls, but I’m here to try to get some folk woke,’ said Booker, addressing a crowd of roughly 200 at Alabama State University in Montgomery, three hours after Patrick appeared with Jones in Selma. ‘Some people don’t understand: the opposite of justice is not injustice. It is inaction and indifference.’ ‘Bad people get elected when good people don’t vote,’ Booker added.” http://politi.co/2jDvmx6
— THE STEP BACK: “Alabama, Despite History of Unruly Politics, Has ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’,” by NYT’s Campbell Robertson and Jonathan Martin in Montgomery, Alabama: “‘I don’t think you can compare this one with anything,’ said Bill Baxley, 76, whose first foray into Alabama state politics was as attorney general nearly five decades ago. ‘I haven’t seen in my lifetime — a long time, I’m 83 going on 84 — one this unique,’ said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, who was first elected to the State Legislature in 1970 and is now the dean of the Alabama congressional delegation.
“‘Never seen anything like this,’ said Glen Browder, 74, a former congressman, during whose political career different Alabama governors were convicted of bribery, brought down by sex scandal and indicted on a charge of stealing money to buy fancy shower stalls and a riding lawn mower.
“The special Senate election here, to be decided Tuesday, has made for one wild and ugly campaign season. It was never going to be afternoon tea, but with the airing of allegations in November that Roy S. Moore, the Republican nominee, had hounded and molested teenage girls when he was in his 30s, the race tightened — and the dialogue went south. Mr. Moore has gone about creating a real-life political science experiment, testing whether last year’s presidential campaign was an anomaly or whether voters remain just as willing to shrug off truth-stretching, multiple charges of sexual misconduct and incendiary speech.” http://nyti.ms/2BXI41j
WAPO’S BOB COSTA and MICHAEL SCHERER: “Bitter Senate race tests Alabama’s image in the country — and at home”: “For many Alabama voters, unaccustomed to a competitive election and the national attention that has come with it, the bitter showdown between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones has become something more personal than a race to fill an open Senate seat. It is now a referendum on the state’s identity. Supporters of Jones say with concern that a win Tuesday by the firebrand Moore would derail the state’s efforts to escape its painful history and rebrand as a forward-thinking place welcoming to Fortune 500 companies and a highly educated workforce.
“And they express a nagging feeling that a Moore victory would be a deflating sign that Alabama remains beholden to its past. … Supporters of Moore, meanwhile, see his candidacy as a conduit for their rejection of the national media and political elites who they believe unfairly caricature their home state as a cultural backwater.” http://wapo.st/2jlYfB6
— WAPO’S DAN BALZ: “For Republicans, there likely can be no truly good outcome. If Moore wins, the party will have preserved the seat but will be saddled with a new senator under a cloud of allegations, including assaulting a teenager many years ago as well as a pattern of pursuing teenagers half his age when he was in his 30s. If he wins and is sworn in, he probably will face an ethics investigation that will keep the controversy alive until his fate is resolved and perhaps much longer than that. For the Republicans, it’s a hot mess.”
— HOWELL RAINES (former NYT exec editor): “In a sense we are all Alabamians now, wincing when sophisticates abroad satirize our willingness to be beguiled by abnormality. Electing Mr. Jones, who is admired nationally for prosecuting racial crimes, would be a cultural watershed for Alabama voters and a sign that the Trump base will fracture with unexpected ease. Deep in their bones, Alabamians know that if Roy Moore goes to Washington, the wardrobe department at ‘Saturday Night Live’ will surely accommodate them by finding a cowboy vest, a tiny pistol and a Girl Scout dress, and they’re prepared to feel very put upon.” http://nyti.ms/2Arg1tW
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ISAAC DOVERE — “Why Democrats win even if they lose in Alabama”: “Democrats head into Tuesday’s Senate election in Alabama confident that they’ll come out on top no matter who wins. And many Republicans agree with them. If Doug Jones prevails, Democrats expect it will further excite their base, bolster candidate recruitment and fuel fundraising heading into 2018, coming off their near-sweep of last month’s elections. They will revel in picking up a Senate seat in the Deep South, especially in a state so central to President Donald Trump’s political rise and where he earlier backed the loser of the GOP primary. Practically, Republicans would have a 51-49 Senate majority, leaving them with a single vote to spare assuming Democrats stick together.
“But the alternative won’t make for bad politics, either, Democrats say. If Roy Moore wins, they’ll spend the next year yoking every Republican they can to the accused child predator and a president who welcomed him into the GOP fold. They’ll be quick to remind everyone of all the other comments Moore has made against Muslims and gays and in favor of Vladimir Putin’s view of America as evil, as well as his rosy view of slave-era America. ‘He’ll be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats. If you’re running in 2018, Roy Moore’s going to be your new best friend. As a Republican, to think that you can win without the baggage of Roy Moore is pretty naïve,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).” http://politi.co/2jkfF0U
— “Trump to cut robocall for Moore,” by Alex Isenstadt in Mobile, Alabama: “Donald Trump has agreed to record a robocall for Alabama Republican Roy Moore ahead of next week’s special election, the president’s most direct involvement in Alabama on behalf of the embattled candidate to date. The call, according to a source close to the Moore campaign, is expected to go out to Alabama voters on Monday, a day before the election.” http://politi.co/2A8teU5
SUNDAY BEST, ROY MOORE EDITION — JAKE TAPPER talks to SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-ALA.) — in Tuscaloosa — on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION”: SHELBY: “Well, I’d rather see the Republican win. But I hope that Republican would be a write in. I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name and I think a lot of people could do that. Will they do it? I’m not sure. I don’t know what’s going to happen. As a Republican, I had to vote Republican. I wanted to vote Republican. I understand where the president is coming from. I understand we would like to retain that seat in the U.S. Senate. But I tell you what, there’s a time — we call it a tipping point — and I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip. When it got to the 14 year old story, that was enough for me. I said I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”
TAPPER: “You’re going to wake up on Wednesday, and one of these two men, Roy Moore or Doug Jones, is going to be your fellow senator from Alabama. Which one would you rather deal with on a professional level?”
SHELBY: “Well, I don’t have to answer that question today. I — I had rather see another Republican in there, and I’m going to stay with that story. I’m not going to vote for the Democrat. I didn’t vote for the Democrat or advocate for the Democrat. But I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. The state of Alabama deserves better. I think we have got a lot of great Republicans that could have won and carried the state beautifully and served in the Senate honorably.”
CHUCK TODD talks to SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.): TODD: “You know, there’s been some concern that the election of Roy Moore is just going to send a larger negative message about what the Republican Party stands for. You have been somebody, as a leader in the party, to try to talk about inclusion. I wonder if comments like this that Roy Moore said when he was revering the age of slavery when he said, ‘I think it was a great time in America at the time when families were united, even though we had slavery. They cared for one another. People were strong in their families.’
“And then I thought about that quote and this tweet from Steve King earlier this week. And he says this, ‘Diversity is not our strength.’ And then he quotes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán quote, ‘Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life, but a lower one.’ This stuff inside your party, look Sen. Scott, I know you don’t want to associate yourself with that. But it’s associated with the Republican party. What do you do about this?
SCOTT: “Well, very little that I can do about people who speak ignorantly. And you just have to call it for what it is, No. 1. No. 2, the bottom line is both when Steve King and Tim Scott arrived in this country, we were actually creating diversity because the Native Americans were already here. So that is just a ridiculous statement. Listen, I wasn’t supporting Roy Moore before the allegations. The allegations reinforced why I wasn’t there. The good news is, thank God for leaders like John Ratcliffe, Trey Gowdy, Mia Love, a diverse group of young thinkers who will take our country and our party in a better direction.”
— MARTHA RADDATZ speaks with REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-ALA.) on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: RADDATZ: “And congresswoman, I want to get your reaction to [a] mailer that the Jones campaign sent out to voters, which says, ‘think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a Senator?’ Many view that mailer as racially insensitive. One African-American voter told a local news outlet he no longer plans to vote after receiving the ad, saying, for his campaign to put this flyer out it is a complete slap in the face. You’re the only African-American representing Alabama in Congress. Was that a mistake?”
SEWELL: “Listen, ads don’t, mailers don’t vote, it’s people who vote. And I really believe that the folks of Alabama will see through all of this nonsense about Roy Moore. At the end of the day…” RADDATZ: “But was that mailer a mistake? Do you think that was a mistake? I know people vote and mailers don’t, but was it a mistake?” SEWELL: “Yeah. Well, listen, I don’t think that the folks are concentrating on one piece of literature. I think that we have to look at the whole body of evidence and facts that Doug Jones has been, you know, saying as to why he is the right candidate for the state of Alabama.”
CLIP AND SAVE — NIKKI HALEY told CHRIS WALLACE on “Fox News Sunday” that she wouldn’t take secretary of State of she was offered. She said she’s happy in New York.
AROUND THE TAX REFORM HORN …
— “As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class,” by WaPo’s Damien Paletta: “The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington. The bill was supposed to deliver benefits predominantly to average working families, not corporations, with a 35 percent tax cut Trump proposed on the campaign trail as part of the ‘Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act.’ …
“But the final product is looking much different, the result of a partisan policymaking process that largely took place behind closed doors, faced intense pressure from corporate lobbyists and ultimately fell in line with GOP wish lists. As top lawmakers from the House and the Senate now rush to complete negotiations to push the tax plan into law, it amounts to a massive corporate tax cut, with uneven — and temporary — benefits for the middle class that could end up increasing taxes for many working families in future years.” http://wapo.st/2kNXReU
— TRUMP ON TAX REFORM: @realDonaldTrump at 8:35 a.m.: “Getting closer and closer on the Tax Cut Bill. Shaping up even better than projected. House and Senate working very hard and smart. End result will be not only important, but SPECIAL!” … at 8:30 a.m.: “Things are going really well for our economy, a subject the Fake News spends as little time as possible discussing! Stock Market hit another RECORD HIGH, unemployment is now at a 17 year low and companies are coming back into the USA. Really good news, and much more to come!”
ON THE WILDFIRES — “Southern California’s fire devastation is ‘the new normal,’ Gov. Brown says,” by L.A. Times’ Ruben Vives, Melissa Etehad and Jaclyn Cosgrove: “Gov. Jerry Brown surveyed the devastation Saturday in Ventura — the area hardest hit by firestorms that have displaced nearly 90,000 people in Southern California — calling it ‘the new normal.’ The visit came four days after Brown declared a state of emergency in response to the wildfires. In all, blazes from Ojai to Oceanside have destroyed more than 790 structures and burned 175,000 acres.” http://bit.ly/2nRk8K7
ZINKE RESPONDS — “Zinke attacks reporting on helicopter rides,” by Ben Lefebvre: “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Saturday attacked POLITICO’s coverage of his use of $14,000 in taxpayer-funded helicopter rides in the D.C. area — but offered no facts that contradicted the story that ran Thursday. ‘Here are the #facts the DC media refuses to print,’ Zinke said in a statement on his official Twitter account.
“‘Recent articles about official Interior Department helicopter usage are total fabrications and a wild departure from reality.’ His statement went on to note — as POLITICO’s story had said — that the trips in question had included a visit to an emergency management exercise in West Virginia and a flyover of a power line project in Virginia. Zinke also defended a separate helicopter flight last summer over two national monuments in Nevada. POLITICO had reported in September on that flight, which Interior Department documents said cost at least $40,000.
“POLITICO’s reporting was based on records that the Interior Department had released under the Freedom of Information Act. Zinke’s travels got more attention Friday in a follow-up story by The Associated Press that mentioned all the helicopter trips.” http://politi.co/2iLKlEd … Ben’s original story http://politi.co/2BOD0Lw
— SPOTTED: ZINKE dining with family at Landini Brothers Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, last night.
WHAT CONSERVATIVES ARE READING — “Republicans step up defense of ‘not qualified’ judicial nominees,” by Seung Min Kim and John Bresnahan: “Senate Republicans have declared war on the American Bar Association. Since 1953, the venerable legal organization has played a critical, behind-the-scenes role in assessing judicial nominees and their fitness to serve on the bench. But with the ABA emerging as a major stumbling block in President Donald Trump’s effort to transform the courts, the GOP is accusing the non-partisan group of holding a liberal slant and is seeking to sideline it.
“The ABA has deemed at least four of Trump’s judicial nominees ‘not qualified’ – a high number, although other administrations evaluated candidates privately before they were nominated. Democrats warn of dire consequences of ignoring the group’s evaluations. But Republicans are intent on a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that could last for decades and so far, haven’t been persuaded by the ABA’s ratings.” http://politi.co/2BPLulW
MEDIA CRITIC IN CHIEF — @realDonaldTrump at 6:14 p.m.: “.@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?) showing an almost empty arena last night for my speech in Pensacola when, in fact, he knew the arena was packed (as shown also on T.V.). FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.” … at 5:01 p.m.: “.@DaveWeigel @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in. Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!”
— @daveweigel at 5:04 p.m. replying to Trump: “Sure thing: I apologize. I deleted the photo after @dmartosko told me I’d gotten it wrong. Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner.”
— @NicolleDWallace: “Some free PR advice for my pals in the media – Donald Trump would love to have a fight about whether the press tells the truth – FACT: there are higher standards in every newsroom than on potus twitter feed and White House press briefing- do not take the bait. Carry on.”
LISTEN IN to the latest bonus Playbook Audio Briefing episode from our live recording Thursday night at Sixth and I Synagogue. Today we’re posting Jake and Anna’s discussion with NRCC’S JOHN ROGERS and DCCC’S DAN SENA http://bit.ly/2iMHyuF Make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcasting app (Apple Podcasts http://apple.co/2uK0bDc … Stitcher http://bit.ly/2BTyvQZ) so you don’t miss our daily briefings.
FUN CLICK — SNL’s “Visit with Santa Cold Open” — “Santa Claus (Kenan Thompson) and his elf (Kate McKinnon) field some uncomfortable Christmas present requests” from kids related to politics. 6-min. video http://bit.ly/2iMtO2P
AT FOGGY BOTTOM — “U.S. Diplomat’s Resignation Signals Wider Exodus From State Department,” by FP’s Dan De Luce and Robbie Gramer: “An award-winning U.S. diplomat who was seen as a rising star at the State Department has issued a scathing resignation letter, accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Donald Trump administration of undercutting the State Department and damaging America’s influence in the world. Elizabeth Shackelford, who most recently served as a political officer based in Nairobi for the U.S. mission to Somalia, wrote to Tillerson that she reluctantly had decided to quit because the administration had abandoned human rights as a priority and shown disdain for the State Department’s diplomatic work, according to her letter, obtained by Foreign Policy.
“‘I have deep respect for the career Foreign and Civil Service staff who, despite the stinging disrespect this Administration has shown our profession, continue the struggle to keep our foreign policy on the positive trajectory necessary to avert global disaster in increasingly dangerous times,’ Shackelford wrote in her Nov. 7 letter, which is published below. One phrase was redacted on Shackelford’s request. ‘With each passing day, however, this task grows more futile, driving the Department’s experienced and talented staff away in ever greater numbers,’ she wrote.
“Her former colleagues said her departure — and the sentiments expressed in her letter — reflect a wider exodus of midcareer diplomats who have lost confidence in Tillerson’s management and the Trump administration’s approach toward diplomacy. ‘She’s emblematic of what we’re losing across the board,’ said one of Shackelford’s former State Department colleagues. ‘She is the best among us. We should not be losing the best among us. And that should concern people that we are,’ the former colleague said.” http://atfp.co/2ASUiKz
VALLEY TALK — “Tech’s new D.C. partner: Charles Koch,” by Nancy Scola: “The tech industry has found a surprising new ally in its effort to shape public policy in Washington: the 82-year-old libertarian billionaire Charles Koch. Two organizations founded by Koch, one an education-focused institute and the other a grant-making foundation, have spent the past year ramping up their efforts to shape public debate on tech policy topics like self-driving cars and the rights of online publishers.
“And despite their ideological distance on issues like the Paris climate accord, the Koch groups and left-leaning Silicon Valley are working together to advance the argument that innovation is most likely to flourish when legislators and regulators leave it alone. … The deep-pocketed Koch groups have the resources to help tech put on educational events, co-host conferences and fund academic research. But the alliance with Charles Koch also allows Silicon Valley to expand its contacts and influence in the age of Donald Trump — in a Washington that looks much different from what the tech executives who supported Hillary Clinton had expected after the 2016 election.
“For an industry in need of new friends in D.C., amid threats of antitrust scrutiny and criticism of its role in enabling Russian election interference, the Kochs’ deep ties to conservative circles may prove useful.” http://politi.co/2kPTf7V
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DEMS TRY TO MOVE FORWARD — “DNC ‘unity’ panel recommends huge cut in superdelegates,” by Kevin Robillard: “A commission set up to help reform the Democratic presidential nominating process has voted to restrict the number of superdelegates as part of a slew of changes. The Democratic Party’s Unity Reform Commission is recommending cutting the number of superdelegates by about 400, equal to a 60 percent reduction. Many of the remaining superdelegates would see their vote tied to the results in their state.
“The commission is also suggesting that absentee voting be required as an option for presidential caucus participants. It is calling for automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration. And it wants to mandate public reporting of raw vote totals from caucus states. The recommendations will now go to the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee, and then likely to the full 447-member Democratic National Committee for consideration sometime next year, where it will need two-thirds support to pass.” http://politi.co/2ARNnkR
— “Democrats eye gains in Pennsylvania trial on ‘goofy’ gerrymandering,” by Reuters’ Joseph Ax in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania: “The 7th congressional district has become a national poster child for critics of gerrymandering, the process by which one party draws district boundaries to ensure an advantage among voters. Democrats say the lines have helped Republicans like U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan, the four-term incumbent [Democrat Daylin] Leach seeks to unseat, to stay in office.
“That could soon change, however. On Monday in state court in Harrisburg, one of three lawsuits challenging those boundaries heads to trial. The outcome could shift several battleground districts in Pennsylvania and in turn boost the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, where they last held the majority from January 2009 to January 2011. The 7th district is so precisely engineered that at one point it narrows to the width of a single seafood restaurant, snaking past two other congressional districts so it can link two far flung Republican-leaning areas.” http://reut.rs/2iO5fCG
BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
— “Tales of War and Redemption,” by Phil Klay in the American Scholar: “A soldier may call out to God while in combat, but the experiences that cause him to do so might be the very ones that later cause him to abandon his faith altogether. What kind of God would allow any of the innumerable things that happen in a war zone? This old complaint takes on a particular urgency when you’ve seen children dying slowly after going through more pain than any human being should ever experience.” http://bit.ly/2y80OIn
— “Chronicler of Islamic State ‘killing machine’ goes public,” by AP’s Lori Hinnant and Maggie Michael: “For nearly two years, he’d wandered the streets of occupied Mosul, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. … He forced himself to witness the beheadings and deaths by stoning, so he could hear the killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes. … He wasn’t a spy. He was an undercover historian and blogger.” http://bit.ly/2BP4iS4
— “Hillary Clinton meets Mary Beard: “I would love to have told Trump: ‘Back off, you creep,’” by Decca Aitkenhead in the Guardian: Clinton: “There is a deliberate, very well-organised, sophisticated assault on facts and reason and evidence. In our country, it’s driven originally by a cabal of billionaires and religious fundamentalists, and their view is that it doesn’t matter what they say. If they say it often enough and they put enough money behind it, they’ll convince a significant number of people.” http://bit.ly/2BheTsV (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— “The Consent of the (Un)governed,” by Laurie Penny in Longreads: “The search for a more human understanding of power and consent is not simply stage-dressing for a bigger fight. It is the big fight. It’s all about the grabby old men, and it always has been.” http://bit.ly/2nFAvsZ
— “My Experience at Charlie Rose Went Beyond Sexism,” by Rebecca Carroll in Esquire: “In 1997, I joined the production team of Charlie Rose’s popular interview show. I was the only black journalist on staff. … Twenty years later, in this watershed moment of examination and reckoning as one powerful white man after another is disgraced … we’re still not talking about the ramifications for black women — or the broader connection to structural racism in America.” http://bit.ly/2jxjMUb
— “Ryan Zinke Is Trump’s Attack Dog on the Environment,” by Elliott D. Woods in Outside: “Early in his political career, the interior secretary irked fellow Republicans with his willingness to stand up for conservation. Things have changed, and whether you love or hate his ideas, know this: he’s one of the few Trump-era cabinet secretaries with the juice to make things happen, and he’s got the boss’s back.” http://bit.ly/2BXFXKP
— “Can Sexual Predators Be Good Scholars?” by Becca Rothfeld in the Chronicle of Higher Ed – per ALDaily.com’s description: “Writing and thinking are intimate activities. Does that suggest brilliant men pay an intellectual price for mistreating women? It’s comforting — and certainly false — to think so.” http://bit.ly/2A4VQO8
— “Success Academy’s Radical Educational Experiment,” by the New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead: “Inside Eva Moskowitz’s quest to combine rigid discipline with a progressive curriculum.” http://bit.ly/2AHgDIR
— “The true story of the fake U.S. embassy in Ghana,” by Yepoka Yeebo in the Guardian: “Last year, the U.S. State Department said it had uncovered a fake embassy in Accra that had been issuing a stream of forged visas. The story went viral – but all was not as it seemed.” http://bit.ly/2j9jaXU
— “Young Americans,” by Michael Hall in the December issue of Texas Monthly: “Pedro Villalobos is a star prosecutor. Gerardo De Loera is a musician. Joseph Ramirez is a tech entrepreneur. They’re young, they’re smart, they make America great. They’re also undocumented, able to live in the country legally under controversial legislation set to end. Now, with time running out as Congress mulls their fate, they—and thousands more like them—face being sent back to a place they’ve never called home.” http://bit.ly/2BUWBuF
— “When Does Work Actually Get Done?” – Priceonomics: “Sustaining focus year-round is more of a Herculean pipe-dream than a reality of the modern workplace. We come into the office with resolve and determination, pump out a few tasks, eat lunch, then gradually deteriorate into a potpourri of Reddit posts and cat videos. But there are certain times where we’re more likely to get our work done.” http://bit.ly/2jcS1Dn
— “Millennials Have Officially Killed the Holiday Office Party – Thanks Vox.com,” by The Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash: “It is a time-honored tradition … Show up to your company’s voluntary holiday gathering, where absences are informally noted by supervisors who will passive-aggressively punish the missing come January. Pretend you enjoy socializing with colleagues that you wouldn’t invite over to your house on a dare.” http://tws.io/2kPe1Vk
— “9 common-sense rules for getting the most out of meetings,” by Ray Dalio on TED.com: “Veteran financier Ray Dalio has been in every kind of meeting: the good, the bad and the ugly. Here’s how he keeps his meetings focused and productive.” http://bit.ly/2iGmPIH
— “Longform Podcast#273: Zoe Chace,” a reporter and producer at “This American Life”: “Radio is a movie in your head. It’s a very visual thing. It’s a transporting thing—when it’s done well. And it’s louder than your thoughts. It is both of those things. It would just take me out of the place that I was, where I was lost and couldn’t figure things out.” http://bit.ly/2AGqheT
— “Will Trump Inspire the Next Great American Novel?” by Tom Rosenstiel in POLITICO Magazine: “Once upon a time, Washington spawned towering works of political fiction. What about now?” http://politi.co/2kaApEP
SPOTTED: John Kerry and Jon Hamm on Thursday night at “Hamilton” in London’s West End, where the two took a selfie together at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Kerry first met Hamm after Kerry’s speech at the Charlotte Democratic Convention in 2012. While in London, Kerry had a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace climate change dinner with Ambassador Bill Burns and met with friends from Parliament (both Labour and Tory) who work on foreign policy. Kerry, whose birthday is tomorrow, is heading to Paris for French President Emmanuel Macron’s Tuesday climate change conference titled “One Planet” …
… Rex Tillerson doing the opening coin-toss at the Army-Navy game yesterday in Philly. Also in the stands: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert with her brother Joe Nauert, a Navy midshipman — pic of the Army kids storming the field after they won 14-13 http://bit.ly/2BsFmUn … Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) last night in the lobby of the Kimpton Lorien Hotel and Spa on King Street in Old Town Alexandria
HOLIDAY PARTY CIRCUIT — SPOTTED at Ron and Sara Bonjean’s annual Christmas party last night at their house in Alexandria where the special surprise celebrity guest was Tori Spelling: Don and Shannon McGahn, Sean Spicer (pic of Sean and Spelling: http://bit.ly/2BqYKkI), Rodell Mollineau, Brian Walsh, Doug Heye, Brian Baker, Aaron Keyak, Tim Burger, Scott Mulhauser and Kara Carscaden, Brad Rateike, Adam Kennedy, Zach Parkinson, Tyler Ross, Sarah Westwood and Jon Conradi, Michelle Fields and Jamie Weinstein, Janet Donovan, Michael and Mary Kathryn Steel, Sam Feist, Polson Kanneth, Marie Harf and Joshua Lucas, Dan Conston, Kelley Hudak, Lauren French, Mark Paustenbach, Mitchell Rivard …
… Andrew Kovalcin, Craig Gordon, Michael LaRosa, Steve Shepard, Benny and Katelyn Rieley Johnson, Brian Danza, Mike Dubke, Michael Falcone, Zeke Miller, Josh and Ali Rogin, Jahan Wilcox, Hadas Gold, Rob Saliterman, Bill McQuillen, Lauren Pratapas, Matt Dornic, Hanna Hope, Neil Grace, Jeff Grappone, Matt and Rebecca Haller, Liz Johnson, Stuart Roy, Steve Shepard, Robert and Katie Zirkelbach, Ben Jenkins, Sean Sullivan, Kevin Sheridan and Erika Gutierrez, Patrick O’Connor, Alice Lloyd, Jenna Lifhits, Hannah Yoest, Meridith McGraw, Vanessa Morrone and Mike Ambrosini, Becca Glover, Katy Summerlin, Ryan Hughes, Eli Yokley.
SPOTTED at Robert Draper and Kirsten Powers’ holiday party yesterday at their house near Catholic University: Chris Stirewalt, Karen Tumulty, Alice Stewart, Juleanna Glover, Christopher Hale, Brendan Buck and Rebecca Berg, Rebecca Cutler, Todd Harris, Tim Burger, Doug Heye, Phil Rucker, David Swerdlick, Sally Quinn, Asawin Suebsaeng and Elizabeth Brown.
WEEKEND WEDDING — OBAMA ALUMNI — “Mary Baskerville, Theodore Newman”: “Ms. Baskerville, 30, is a public relations manager in the corporate and financial practice of Burson-Marsteller in New York. Until January, she was a sponsorship manager at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, part of the Clinton Foundation. She graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. … Mr. Newman, 35, is an insurance claims manager at the Starr Companies, an insurance and financial services company in New York. He graduated from Northwestern and received a law degree from American University. … The couple met in 2013 at a happy hour at Alero, a Mexican restaurant in Washington. Ms. Baskerville was working in press advance for the Obama administration.” With pic http://nyti.ms/2yWdZj5
BIRTHDAYS OF THE DAY: Megan Whittemore, deputy chief of staff for Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and VP of the Senate Press Secretaries Association. A trend she thinks deserves more attention: “Opposites really do attract. My husband and I are a bipartisan couple living and working in a partisan political city, and I believe we can always use more bipartisanship in this town. That’s why I enjoy working with the Senate Press Secretaries Association, which is one of the few bipartisan organizations on the Hill that help bring people together.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2AIhQzE
… Dateline NBC correspondent Andrea Canning. How she got her start in journalism: “I started at ‘Extra,’ where I babysat editors’ kids so they’d make my resume reel for me. I mailed out 50 VHS tapes and was off to Greenville, MS for my first on-air job.” Q&A: http://politi.co/2BZ2reh
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Brian McGuire, policy director at Brownstein Hyatt and a McConnell alum, who celebrated with his wife Ashley in New York City for the day (hat tip: Scott Jennings, who was on time).
BIRTHDAYS: Mike Shields of Convergence Media and a CNN political commentator … Symone Sanders … Fox News’ Mike Emanuel is 5-0 (h/t James Rosen) … Mercury CEO Kieran Mahoney (h/t Jon Haber) … Michael Bodley … Justin Ahn … Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is 68 … Charlie Watkins … Politico Magazine’s Katie Fossett … former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is 61 … Greg Rothman … Misha Belikov, analyst at Point72 Asset Management … Google alum Steve Johnston (h/t Tim Burger) … Mitchell Rubenstein … N.Y. Daily News’ Erin Durkin … Robert Maguire … Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) is 48 … Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) is 57 … Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is 64 … Edelman’s Shawn Stafford … Kip Wainscott, senior adviser on Silicon Valley at National Democratic Institute … Chris McGrath … Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey …
… Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) is 67. He’s “celebrating with his wife, children and grandchildren and is looking forward to a big birthday cake from world-renowned Rick’s Bakery in Fayetteville” (h/t Tim Griffin) … Jennifer Cox, chief of staff for Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Ryan Beene … Jackie Etter-Krause … Gigi Anders … Lisa Rowan … Tom Zampino … David French, SVP of gov’t relations at National Retail Federation … Ellie Bartow … Kristin Wilson Keppler … Matthew Gagnon is 37 … Doug Rosenthal … Don McDowell … Susan Milligan, political writer for U.S. News & World Report … David Kieve, partner at Hilltop Public Solutions … Laura De Castro … Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List … Doug Badger … Scott MacKay … Jess Peterson, president and CEO of Western Skies Strategies … Gloria Loring … Hope Hodge Seck … Mitchell Schwartz … Rick Siger … Michelle Mayorga … Wayne Smith (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
****** A message from PhRMA: In the competitive marketplace for medicines, negotiations between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and biopharmaceutical companies result in substantial rebates and fees. According to a new report, in many cases, this system often creates incentives for PBMs to prefer medicines with higher list prices and higher rebates. Read more about how money flows through the supply chain here: http://onphr.ma/2kgd6Nu ******
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