Just as The Donald is extending his lead in the Republican primary, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Iowa's biggest newspaper is telling him it's time to pack up and go home. The headline on the editorial kind of says it all.
Lest there be any confusion, the Register editors cleared it all up in the body of the editorial. "By using his considerable wealth, his celebrity status, and his mouth to draw attention to himself, rather than to raise awareness of the issues facing America, he has coarsened our political dialogue and cheapened the electoral process," they wrote. "The best way Donald Trump can serve his country is by apologizing to [Sen. John] McCain and terminating this ill-conceived campaign."
Don't bet on it. Though most of the Post/ABC survey was taken before Trump mocked McCain, a former prisoner of war, for getting captured in Vietnam, Trump's numbers have soared. He's now nearly lapping the GOP pack, with 24 percent. His nearest competitor: Scott Walker at 13 percent. Jeb Bush checked in with 12 percent. "That is the highest percentage and biggest lead recorded by any GOP candidate this year in Post-ABC News polls and marks a sixfold increase in his support since late May, shortly before he formally joined the race," Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill write for the Post.
And here are 9 other things to know to start your day.
1) Toxic elixir of depression and guns led to killing of Marines
After Mohammad Abdulazeez murdered five Marines in Chattanooga last week, lots of folks jumped to the conclusion that the killer was a radicalized Muslim bent on terrorizing Americans. It was evidence, Louisiana Gov. and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal said, of President Barack Obama's failure to confront "radical Islam."
But as new details emerge, the picture looks simpler. In fact, as the New York Times and others report, Abdulazeez was mentally disturbed and using nonprescription drugs and alcohol — the latter is hardly a sign of devotion to the tenets of Islam. Moreover, he bought some of his weapons illegally.
Though a portion of the Islamic world is at war with America, the common denominator in the string of mass killings in the US in recent years isn't Islam. It's the tragic combination of mental instability and easy access to firearms. That doesn't qualify as news, but it bears repeating every time it happens. The Times cites a representative of Abdulazeez's in reporting on the mental state of the killer.
Mr. Abdulazeez had suffered for years from depression and possibly from bipolar disorder, the family representative said, adding that he had abused alcohol and possibly prescription painkillers and had gained and lost jobs. In his last months, he faced the prospect of both bankruptcy and jail time on a drunken-driving charge.
"I think he knew he was going downhill, and he intended to go downhill, but I don’t think he knew where he’d end up at the bottom," the representative, who insisted on anonymity to protect the family, said of Mr. Abdulazeez’s final days alive.
In a few pages of rambling notes being pored over by the F.B.I., Mr. Abdulazeez wrote about suicide and martyrdom as long ago as 2013, a senior United States intelligence official said. … "These are not the most ‘I’m going to martyr myself’ sort of statements," the representative said. "It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a depressed person who is reading stuff about this and is like, ‘This is a great idea.’ "
Martyrdom, it seems, was an excuse for Abdulazeez to end his own lives and those of American Marines. But the drivers look to have been mental illness and easy access to guns.
2) More information but no clarity in Sandra Bland case
Police in Texas are putting out more details about the final hours of Sandra Bland's life, but the failure to account for what actually happened in her jail cell — three days after her arrest during a traffic stop — is shocking. Police are expected to release video Tuesday of the stop, which led to her arrest on a charge of assaulting a public servant, according to the New York Times.
A Waller County sheriff’s official described a timeline for the jail cell of the woman, Sandra Bland, that started early in the morning of July 13, when she refused a breakfast tray around 6:30 a.m., until a jailer found her hanging shortly after 9 a.m. For about 90 minutes during that period, there was no movement by jail officials in the hallway leading to her cell, according to a video that the authorities released from a camera inside the jail.
"This investigation is still being treated just as it would be a murder investigation," the Waller County district attorney, Elton Mathis, said. He said the case is likely to be turned over to a grand jury expected to be impaneled in August.
- The Times also has a timeline on the case.
- And Vox's German Lopez gathered information on suicides in local jails.
3) Another Bush vows to clean up Washington with outsider campaign
Jeb Bush outlined his plans to reform the nation's capital Monday, promising to extend the length of time between the end of a member of Congress's service and the point at which he or she can become a lobbyist. The details of a legislative plan would matter a lot for that, such as a requirement that lawmakers publish online lists of meetings with lobbyists because past reform efforts have failed to capture folks who consult but don't register as lobbyists. Bush would also institute reporting requirements for meetings members of Congress cut the federal workforce through attrition, rewrite Pentagon contracting rules and try to institute a line-item veto (which was ruled unconstitutional the last time it was tried). The Post's Ed O'Keefe reports that the plan doesn't sit well in Washington.
The changes would have an adverse affect on Washington's $3.2 billion lobbying industry, and several former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists dismissed Bush's ideas as unworkable.
"It's over the top," said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who works for Deloitte, the consulting giant. He suggested that online reporting requirements would violate the constitutional right to petition the government.
"Shouldn’t a congressman be able to meet with some expert without the world knowing about it?" he said. "Why would Congress want to give that authority up?"
Fun fact: When Congress debated, and ultimately passed, a line-item veto in the mid-1990s, the legendary appropriator — and former Klansman — Robert C. Byrd compared Congress to a dethroned Nebuchadnezzar, "bereft of reason and eating grass like an ox." You could look it up.
4) One more for the road: Ohio Gov. John Kasich joins presidential field
Truly, I've lost count. If you're a Republican and you're not running for president, it's probably because you didn't hear there's a race. John Kasich, the former House Budget chairman who worked on budget balancing and welfare reform in Congress, will throw his hat in the Stetson-filled ring Tuesday. The Cleveland Plain Dealer explains five moments that will shape his narrative:
- Balanced budgets and surpluses
- Employment, the economy, and JobsOhio
- Tax reforms
- Medicaid expansion
- Restricting unions for public workers
It's worth the full read.
5) Hillary Clinton talks race and Wall Street regulations in Facebook Q&A
The former secretary of state finally weighed in on #BlackLivesMatter, two days after rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley were rebuked over their responses to being interrupted by activists at Netroots Nation. Dara Lind of Vox says, given the extra time, Clinton responded appropriately.
Of course, it's impossible to know whether Clinton would have been as calm and respectful if she'd been on stage instead of O'Malley when protesters took the microphone Saturday for an impromptu presentation on the deaths of black women in police custody. But her response is consistent with her campaign so far: Clinton has a "tough on crime" history, but her 2016 campaign has made a visible effort to embrace reforms in criminal justice and policing, and to talk about racial disparities in doing so.
Clinton also said she wants to take bonus money from executives at companies fined for breaking the rules and increase the $1.6 million cap on awards to Wall Street whistleblowers.
6) Speaking of Sanders, the National Review basically called him a Nazi
Everyone knows the rule: You lose the argument when you invoke the Nazis. But comparing a Jewish candidate for the presidency who lost his family in the Holocaust to the Hitler crowd? It's hard to find the words to express how outrageous Kevin Williamson's hot take for National Review is. But Vox's Matthew Yglesias is pretty good with words. Here's his rebuttal:
"One could say that this is a repugnant thing to say about a man who is not only not a Nazi, but is in fact an old Jewish guy whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. But Williamson is actually well aware that Sanders's family was murdered in the Holocaust. He even says it makes him "queasy" to call Sanders a Nazi. "But there is no other way to characterize his views and his politics."
I think it's actually pretty easy to characterize Sanders as something other than a Nazi. You can accurately describe him, for instance, as a left-wing liberal and a loyal ally of American labor unions — for high taxes and a generous welfare state, but also skeptical of international trade deals.
But Williamson thinks there is no other way to characterize Sanders's views than to say he's a national socialist.
7) GOP wins at state and local level leaves Democrats with thin bench
Two of my favorite Wall Street Journal reporters, Colleen McCain Nelson and Peter Nicholas, deliver an in-depth look at how Republican focus on state and local races has deprived Democrats of candidates of the future.
After two presidential victories, Mr. Obama presides over a Democratic Party that has lost 13 seats in the U.S. Senate and 69 in the House during his tenure, a net loss unmatched by any modern U.S. president.
Democrats have also lost 11 governorships, four state attorneys general, 910 legislative seats, as well as the majorities in 30 state legislative chambers. In 23 states, Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature; Democrats, only seven.
Such losses help shape the future: An ousted state lawmaker doesn’t run for Congress; a failed attorney general candidate loses a shot at the governor’s office. As a result, the flow of fresh political talent rising to statewide and national prominence in the years ahead won’t be as robust as Democrats hope.
8) Judge pushes back on State Department sloth in Clinton email case
Politico's Josh Gerstein has the details on an increasingly pitched battle between the news media and the government over access to Hillary Clinton's State Department emails.
At a contentious hearing last week, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon demanded explanations for why some of the AP's requests received no reply for four years or more before the wire service filed suit in March.
Leon said he was determined to establish "what has been going on in the State Department for four years dragging their feet, not addressing these issues for four years."
"I want to find out what's been going on over there. I should say, what's not been going on over there," the judge added. "The State Department, for reasons known only to itself ... has been, to say the least, recalcitrant in responding."
9) Menendez, fighting corruption charges, accuses DOJ of misconduct
New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has been all but completely sidelined in the fight over President Obama's nuclear nonproliferation deal with Iran because he's battling charges that he took gifts from a major donor. His relationship with Obama was already on the rocks over the Iran deal — and the fact that Obama's Justice Department is prosecuting him. Now, according to the Associated Press, Menendez's lawyers are pointing to Bill Clinton's use of the Lincoln Bedroom as a reward for donors to show that his behavior isn't abnormal for a politician.
The Democrat's attorneys filed a series of motions to dismiss the 22-count indictment against him and the Florida eye doctor who allegedly bought the senator's influence with luxury vacations and campaign donations.
Among other claims, the motions accuse the government of intimidating witnesses and presenting false testimony to a grand jury. ... Lawyers for Menendez suggest the indictment attempts to criminalize ordinary acts of citizens who endeavor to secure access or influence to a politician.
"Officials frequently sell access by spending time with those who pay to attend fundraising events, and they are quick to answer the phone and lend an ear when major donors call," one of the motions said. "Even presidents have been known to invite major donors to the White House for coffee or dinner, or even to stay the night in the Lincoln bedroom."