Huddle up

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On the roster: Huddle up - Power Play: One for the books -Trump’s decision on Dreamers soon, Congress braces - Trump may tie debt boost demand to flood relief - And still, Kevin Bacon does nothing

HUDDLE UP
The late, great Johanna Maurice of the Charleston Daily Mail used to say that if you want to get to know real America, read the obituary pages. 

Popular culture and news coverage focus on extremes – extremes in wealth, poverty, vice, violence and everything else. Some of this is exploitative, but much of it is necessary. News reporters are obliged to tell people what’s, well, new. 

Like they say, they don’t report on every plane that lands, just the ones that don’t. 

Obituaries, on the other hand, show how real Americans live, even if they are seldom seen. The guy who serves in the military honorably, works dutifully in an ordinary job, raises a family with love, makes himself a part of his community through his church and civic groups doesn’t usually get on the front page. 

You may see him there in the back row of the group shot at the Elks Club fundraiser, but ordinary decency still isn’t shocking enough to lead the news, thank God. But there in the back of the book, though, you can find his story – the ordinary heroism of everyday life – told with honor and kindness.

You will see sorrow, too. Lives cut short by addiction, violence, illness and tragedy. But you will see reflected in the memoria is the love of those who tried but could not save them and now will grieve their losses together.

Hanna was right: Checking the obits is good advice for explaining America to people from other cultures or even Americans who feel alienated from their own. As we have watched this week with disaster relief efforts, it sometimes takes tragedy to expose the fundamental decency of our society. 

But we would add an additional window into the wonderfulness of American culture: College football. 

We do not discount the growing concerns about injury or the longstanding, rightful complaints about the exploitation of student athletes for what has become a big-money industry. Hardly. The future of the sport at all levels depends very much on its leaders abilities to resolve these concerns. As it was a century ago, proclivities toward violence and financial corruption threaten the very existence of college football. 

We would, however, encourage critics to bear in mind what this sport and its traditions do for and reveal about our culture. 

People in big cities may not understand the depth of passion that many Americans feel about their favorite college teams. If you are choosing between the Mets, the Yankees, the Giants, the Jets, the Rangers, the Islanders, the Knicks and the Nets, you may not understand why people get so passionate about amateurs, even on losing teams. 

But in a society in which cynical, sometimes malicious, forces work hard to divide people along dangerous lines, college football provides a wonderful opportunity for healthy rivalries and happy associations. 

There are very few things in America today that escape the marring effects of political and cultural divisions, and college football remains one of them. Try to think of other pursuits that bring together such broad cross-sections of Americans and you will find college football among a vanishing few.
  
Anyone who wants to understand the heart of Americans should read the obits, and watch hurricane relief efforts. But we would also submit that they should treat themselves to the experience of standing in a crowd of 70,000 happy, expectant, united fellow citizens, their hearts inclined to joy by the sound of a big-time marching band. 

We think you’ll find a lot of the best of America there too. And as is the official editorial position of this note on the kickoff weekend for college weekend: LET’S GO MOUNTAINEERS!

THE RULEBOOK: HATERS GONNA HATE
 “To those who have been led by experience to attend to this consideration, it could not appear surprising, that the act of the convention … should find or excite dispositions unfriendly, both on one side and on the other, to a fair discussion and accurate judgment of its merits.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 37

TIME OUT: HELLO OUT THERE 
NatGeo: “Something has breathed new life into a faraway cosmic mystery machine… It’s not clear exactly what that object is, but scientists refer to the observable phenomenon as a fast radio burst: a fleeting but extremely powerful blast of radio waves. In this case, astronomers caught a rapid stream of radio bursts coming from a galaxy about three billion light-years away. Scientists with the Breakthrough Listen project made the discovery because, fortunately, they had a pretty good idea where to look. The team had tuned the giant Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to a spot on the sky where a fast radio burst known as FRB 121102 had previously been singing to the stars. Of the roughly two dozen bursts discovered so far, FRB 121102 is the only one known to play on repeat. Because of that, it’s the only burst with a known home galaxy, which was identified in late 2016…”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -18.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.2 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

POWER PLAY: ONE FOR THE BOOKS
This week’s Power Play news and trivia quiz was a barn burner! Chris Stirewalt welcomes Katie Pavlich and Brad Blakeman. Which guest made the best comeback in Power Play history? WATCH HERE

TRUMP’S DECISION ON DREAMERS COMING SOON, CONGRESS BRACES 

Fox News: “Congressional Republicans are looking to revive legislation that could give a deportation reprieve to thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, in turn easing the pressure on President Trump as he faces a deadline to decide the fate of a related Obama-era program. … The timing for a Trump announcement is fluid. ‘Sometime today or over the weekend, we’ll have a decision,’ Trump told reporters on Friday. Asked if ‘Dreamers,’ or those affected by the policy, should be worried, Trump said: ‘We love Dreamers. We love everybody.’ Some officials have indicated to Fox News that an announcement Friday is unlikely. One official told Fox News earlier that Trump ultimately is expected to end DACA, while allowing those in the country who qualified under the program to stay until their work permits expire. Such a move would infuriate Democrats – as well as some moderate Republicans.”

Tillis may come to the rescue - McClatchy: “Conservative lawmakers led by Thom Tillis are crafting a bill they call the conservative Dream Act that would provide a path to permanent residency to people brought here illegally as children, offering President Donald Trump an escape hatch on one of his most vexing immigration challenges. The legislation creates an avenue for Trump to both fulfill a campaign promise to end an Obama-era program known as DACA while yielding to what appears to be his personal desire to let these immigrants remain in the country. ‘Who cares about DACA if there's a Dream Act,’ said a Republican involved with the policy negotiations and aware of Tillis’ plan.”

People barred from original travel ban get second chance for entry - 
WashEx: “Citizens from the seven countries who had proper documentation to enter the U.S. but were blocked after President Trump issued an executive order in January banning travel from those nations will be able to reapply for visas, according to a settlement in a case filed by two Iraqi nationals

TRUMP MAY TIE DEBT BOOST DEMAND TO FLOOD RELIEF
Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump is considering attaching an increase in the U.S. debt limit to an initial $5.95 billion disaster aid funding request for Hurricane Harvey, two administration officials said, a move aimed at lowering the risk of an unprecedented default. The White House request, which could come as soon as Friday, would include $5.5 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the remainder to the Small Business Administration. The request is being prepared primarily to cover funding demands through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year, according to the officials, who described the matter on condition of anonymity. Administration officials already have begun talks with congressional leaders about the approach, which is intended to ease early passage of a debt limit increase and avoid a stand-off over the issue… A Senate spending panel has approved $500 million in FEMA reprogramming into a designated disaster-relief fund…”

More cuts to ObamaCare funding - The Hill: “The Trump administration is slashing funding for ObamaCare enrollment outreach. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials announced on a call with reporters Thursday that funding for advertising and other outreach for ObamaCare enrollment will be cut from $100 million last year to $10 million this year. A department official argued the administration is seeing "diminishing returns" from ObamaCare spending. Officials also pointed to ObamaCare's shortcomings to justify the cuts. “A health-care system that has caused premiums to double and left nearly half of our counties with only one coverage option is not working," said HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley. "The Trump administration is determined to serve the American people instead of trying to sell them a bad deal.”

House to vote on self-driving cars -
 Reuters: “The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles, congressional aides said. The bill, which was passed unanimously by a House panel in July, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years. Automakers and technology companies including General Motors Co and Alphabet Inc‘s’ self-driving unit Waymo have been pushing for new federal rules making it easier to deploy self-driving technology.”

McCain: ‘It’s time Congress returns to regular order’ - WaPo: “Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again. Congress will return from recess next week facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. We are proving inadequate not only to our most difficult problems but also to routine duties. Our national political campaigns never stop. We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important.”

MUELLER TEAMS UP WITH IRS IN RUSSIA PROBE 
Daily Beast: “Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit. This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney. And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public. Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS.”

Trump attorneys lay out arguments against Mueller - 
WSJ: “Lawyers for Donald Trump have met several times with special counsel Robert Mueller in recent months and submitted memos arguing that the president didn’t obstruct justice by firing former FBI chief James Comey and calling into question Mr. Comey’s reliability as a potential witness, people familiar with the matter said.”

President said to be chafing at Kelly’s new rules in White House - WaPo: “President Trump spent the final days of August dutifully performing his job. He tended to the massive recovery from Hurricane Harvey. He hit the road to sell his tax-cut plan. And he convened policy meetings on the federal budget and the North Korean nuclear threat. Behind the scenes during a summer of crisis, however, Trump appears to pine for the days when the Oval Office was a bustling hub of visitors and gossip, over which he presided as impresario. He fumes that he does not get the credit he thinks he deserves from the media or the allegiance from fellow Republican leaders he says he is owed. He boasts about his presidency in superlatives, but confidants privately fret about his suddenly dark moods. And some of Trump’s friends fear that the short-tempered president is on an inevitable collision course with White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.”

COMEY PREPARED TO CLEAR CLINTON WEEKS IN ADVANCE
Fox News: “Fresh allegations that former FBI Director James Comey began drafting an ‘exoneration statement’ for Hillary Clinton well before interviewing her and other key witnesses have called into question his Senate testimony about why he decided to go public with his findings in the email case last summer. In a June hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey was asked whether his decision to announce the results of the investigation was influenced by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s infamous meeting days earlier on an Arizona tarmac with former President Bill Clinton. ‘Yes, in an ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me – that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation,’ Comey [said]. Yet an Aug. 30 letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that interview transcripts show Comey was drafting what they called an ‘exoneration statement’ for Clinton weeks earlier.”

FEDS WARN OF MORE ANTIFA ATTACKS TO COME
Politico: “Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists known as ‘antifa’ had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as ‘domestic terrorist violence,’ according to interviews and confidential law enforcement documents obtained by POLITICO. Since well before the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly, DHS has been issuing warnings about the growing likelihood of lethal violence between the left-wing anarchists and right-wing white supremacist and nationalist groups. Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that ‘anarchist extremists’ were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of ‘the capitalist system,’ racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.”

Labash: ‘A Beating in Berkeley’ - Weekly Standard: “They seem to have forgotten that the far right hardly has a monopoly on political violence. Just a couple of months before Charlottesville, a Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire on a baseball-field full of Republican congressmen, almost killing Rep. Steve Scalise. And this, of course, has been the year of antifa, the masked anarchists in black ISIS pajamas, who advocate violence while battling ‘fascists,’ defined loosely as anyone they don’t like (including run-of-the-mill Trump supporters). Antifa have shown up at one right-leaning gathering after another this year to administer random beat-downs with everything from metal poles to bike locks to bear spray, causing multitudinous injuries and large-scale property damage.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
RNC chief of staff latest in string of high-level departures Fox News

Head of Trump vote fraud commission a paid columnist for Breitbart  Mediaite

Feinstein faces liberal backlash over calls for ‘patience’ with Trump LAT

L.A. Mayor Garcetti isn’t ruling out 2018 governor or senator run in California
 - Politico

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This Sunday, Chris Wallace will talk with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for the latest on the ongoing recovery efforts in the Lone Star State. Also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talks about disaster funding as well as the administration’s push for a tax overhaul. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

AUDIBLE: NAH BRO

 “… I just cannot see me running against Jeff Flake for the Senate. … I think God himself would have to tell me to do it.” – Rep. Trent Franks told KTAR News when asked if he would consider running for Sen. Jeff Flake’s highly contested seat. 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“With President Trump continuing to review his options on DACA, what do you think the reaction in Congress would be if he announced that he thought President Obama's EO went beyond the authority of the President, so he was going to undo it at the end of the year. But he was going to send to Congress a bill to legalize those children, but they wouldn't be able to gain citizenship. If the bill passes the kids could stay and would be legal.  If it doesn't he would start deporting in 2018.  He was leaving it to Congress to tell him the policy to enforce.  Would Republicans support a bill that would legalize these kids?  Would Democrats oppose it because it didn't allow citizenship and take the chance that their ‘No’ vote would cause the deportations?” – Steve Arthur, Colorado Springs, Colo.

[Ed. note: As you saw above, Mr. Arthur, I think we are getting ready to find out. I think the timeframe may be a little looser than what you imagine, but I suspect the framework will be the same. I further suspect that the solution won’t be very hard. Aside from some hardliners on either side, there’s broad consensus about the core group of those brought to the U.S. as minors who are now law-abiding residents. The current situation is a result of past failures of larger immigration bills, which included protected status of these individuals as relatively non-controversial components. Taken alone, this one should pass swiftly: permanent legal status for applicants who prove their eligibility and then, like other green card holders, a chance to apply for citizenship. If that fails, we are closer to the edge of the cliff on immigration than I imagine.]   

“Is the $875 million ‘CUT’ a cut or a reduction in the increased amount from the prior year's budget?” – John Blaney, New York City

[Ed. note: Always a good question, Mr. Blaney, when we talk about spending in Washington! You are referring here to the current House spending plan for the federal fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, that calls for a substantial cut to the Federal Emergency Management Agencies disaster relief account. In this case it is actually a cut to funds already appropriated before. It is part of $1.21 billion in so-called “rescissions” to prior budget authority sought by the current Congress. So this one is, in fact, real money. With very little left in federal disaster coffers the cut takes on additional significance. But we should also remember here that this won’t have much to do with what happens on the Gulf Coast as a result of Harvey. The billions that end up being allocated will be done directly through special legislation. This is not quite a “gotcha,” but it is not exactly fair either to suggest that this proposed budget cut has anything directly to do with how much storm victims get.]  

“Chris: Let's let history develop before making such pronouncements.  In my opinion, Hillary Clinton was the most outwardly divisive politician in history followed by Barack Obama who deepened the racial divide instead of healing it. A wasted opportunity.” –Martin Capages, Jr., Springfield, Mo.

[Ed. note: You may not think it fair, but it seems to be true. Look at it this way, Abraham Lincoln was far and away the most divisive president in history. His very election triggered a civil war. Conversely, Vladimir Putin isn’t divisive at all (in Russia, anyway). When we consider whether a figure is divisive we do first have to consider whether the divisiveness is intentional. There are different flavors here. And Trump does certainly seem to invite and exploit much of this. He, like Obama, seems very willing to exploit ethnic, cultural and economic animus to gain political advantage, even when it deepens divisions. But we weren’t talking about intent Thursday when we said President Trump “is the most divisive national political figure in memory.” Trump, whether fairly or not, has provoked a sharp, relatively narrow fracture in the country. There are always small numbers of people who hate every president, even the most popular ones. But in the case of Trump, you have enormous reservoirs of anger on one side and deeply passionate support on the other. It’s far larger in scale and intensity than under Obama. You probably have to go back to early Watergate-era Richard Nixon to find a cleft so deep and with so many Americans on either side. I doubt even the Clinton impeachment produced this depth of division, but I will certainly do my homework and report back.]

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AND STILL, KEVIN BACON DOES NOTHING
Independent [U.K.]: “‘Spontaneous dancing’ is still illegal in Sweden, a year after the government promised to stop prosecuting people under the bizarre law. In April 2016, the Riksdag, Sweden’s national legislature, voted to drop the rule that forced bars and pubs to have a licence in order for people to dance in them, a law that dated back to the 1970s. But 17 months on, police are still cracking down on bar owners for the crime of dancing customers and the punishments are harsh – ranging from the removal of other permits, to harsh fines or even prison. Dance permits were introduced as a way for Swedish police to prevent public disorder which led to riots. Industry organisation Visita says that bar owners have told them they are still being visited by police when they hear reports of dancing at the premises. … Visita has pressed the government about the delay but had not yet had a response.” 

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.