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On the roster: History offers cause for optimism in a time of upheaval - Obama hits the trail, energizes both sides - Booker puts team on the ground in Iowa - Sound, fury and Spartacus; but Kavanaugh still rolling - FOBWRFP

[Ed note: I promise I will not make a habit of this, but my first (only?) book is coming out Tuesday and I want you, gentle readers, to get the first look at it. You will find below an excerpt from the introduction of “Every Man a King,” lightly edited for newsletter brevity. This is the first excerpt to be published anywhere, which I think is entirely appropriate since I have worked out so many of these ideas with you over more than eight years of writing daily notes here at Fox News. Come to think of it, I could have saved all the trouble of writing and just published a collection of our discussions in “FROM THE BLEACHERS.” Thank you for all your encouragement, correction and support. I have truly been blessed with the greatest readers in the world.]

There is something absolutely American about the notion that you, my friends, are getting screwed.


The fix was in even before you got here, so at least it’s not your fault. In fact, you should count yourself lucky that you are one of the discerning few who understand how things really are.

And there’s probably nothing you can do about it.

Unless . . .

The political idea that we now know as American populism is older than the republic itself, and certainly greeted that same republic with suspicion.

Merchants and planters and elites conspired against you even before they gathered in Philadelphia to draft the charter for these United States. Out in that same twilight space where legitimate concern still brushes past conspiracy theory, the proto-populists were already nodding knowingly.

As Bertrand Russell put it, “From the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.”

Or as one of populism’s most vivid apostles, Huey Long, would more succinctly say, “Every man a king.”

This energy has manifested itself in both parties and in various political ideologies over the centuries: conservatism, liberalism, nationalism, socialism and even out-and-out bigotry.

But one constant has always been the fascinating assortment of charismatic leaders, characters, crooks, cranks, and sometimes charlatans who have – with widely varying degrees of success – led the charge of ordinary folks who have gotten wise to the ways of the swamp.

The depths of despair and heights of exhilaration with which Americans greeted the ascendance and presidency of Donald Trump were partly rooted in the idea that it was something altogether new. We’ve never seen anything like it before, they said.

But if you tug on one golden thread of Trump’s presidential seal, you will find a cord running all the way back to the beginning of us.

Populist politicians have sometimes bedeviled us and sometimes saved us, but always fascinated us. And to understand our moment and what is likely to descend from it, we would do well to know some of those who have stormed the parapet before our current president made it over the top.

And as we come to understand these men, we also see that their successes and failures spring from some common traits and relied on some common circumstances in the republic and its people.

Every successful American politician has been some blend of democratic zeal and republican restraint. Our first partisan split – a clash between the factions of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton – wasn’t a struggle between opposing views as much as it was a conflict over emphasis (and always, always, always personalities).

Conservatives now mainly see the Constitution as a means to constrain the federal leviathan, while today’s liberals tend to focus on the charter’s guarantees of individual rights.

So it’s understandable that modern Americans are prone to forget that the purpose of the document was to create a central government more powerful than all but a few of the revolutionary generation would have initially envisioned.

We believe now — as they did in the summer of 1787 — that rightful government aims to produce the proper balance between freedom and order so that people are free to achieve their fullest potential. 

The tyranny of a despot and the tyranny of the mob are different in style but commensurate in their power to oppress and destroy. 

In excess, both freedom and order can produce oppression. In equipoise, they produce miracles.

America’s prosperity and progress toward equal freedom under the law probably owes more to our culture than to our government. We are not free because the government says so, but rather because we the people have been (mostly) able stewards of these historically unprecedented blessings. 

But even the strongest culture needs guardrails to provide predictability and keep us from veering too far from our objective of maximizing freedom and opportunity.

When our culture and government are both healthy, their traits are complementary. But when either proves deficient, they can help prop each other up and help correct the maladies in one another.

[Ed. Note: For readers who do want a signed copy, you have until midnight ET to visit this site. Thanks and see you on the book tour!]

“An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good.” –Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 1

History: “On this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War. Disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster, the Yale University-educated Hale slipped behind British lines on Long Island and then successfully gathered information about British troop movements for the next several weeks. … [On] September 21, 1776, Hale was captured while sailing Long Island Sound, trying to cross back into American-controlled territory. Hale was interrogated by British General William Howe and, when it was discovered that he was carrying incriminating documents, General Howe ordered his execution for spying… After being led to the gallows, legend holds that Hale was asked if he had any last words and that he replied with these now-famous words, ‘I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.’”

Flag on the play? -
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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 39 percent
Average disapproval: 54.8 percent
Net Score: -15.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; Grinnell College/Selzer: 43% approve - 50% disapprove; IBD: 36% approve - 56% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 38% approve - 60% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.2 percent
Democratic average: 49.4 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 9.2 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up down 1.8 points
[Average includes: Grinnell College/Selzer: 45% Dems - 43% GOP; IBD: 50% Dems - 39% GOP; ABC/WaPo: 52% Dems - 38% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 50% Dems - 39% GOP; NBC/WSJ: 50% Dems - 42% GOP.]

Politico: “Barack Obama’s plunge into the midterm elections on Saturday served its central purpose: For Democrats in critical House races — many of them new to politics — appearing with the former president lent their campaigns urgency and credibility. ‘If we don’t step up, things can get worse,’ Obama told cheering activists who gathered in a crowded ballroom at a rally for seven Democrats running in Republican-held House districts. ‘In two months, we have a chance to restore some sanity in our politics.’ But Republicans see Obama’s return as a chance to step up, too. As the liberal hero begins to stump for fellow Democrats this fall, his stop in this one-time bastion of conservatism comes with political risk. Republicans for years used Obama to energize voters, yoking down-ticket Democrats to a president reviled by the GOP. That’s a formula Republicans here think they can repeat.”

Manchin reloads with shotgun ad - WashEx: “Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., went very literal in his latest campaign advertisement by shooting a copy of an anti-Obamacare lawsuit with a shotgun. It is the latest effort by Manchin to slam his opponent, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, for joining in the lawsuit. Manchin’s ad makes the cause that the lawsuit will gut the law’s protections for pre-existing conditions. ‘He is just dead wrong,’ Manchin said before shooting a copy of the lawsuit in the ad. The ad references an ad from earlier in Manchin's career that depicted him shooting a cap and trade bill considered back in 2009 that would have capped greenhouse gases. Manchin has turned to healthcare as a prominent issue in his re-election campaign in West Virginia, a state President Trump won by more than 30 percentage points in 2016.”

Texas GOP sent SOS signals to Trump for Cruz - Politico: With a string of polls showing GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s lead slipping, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick showed up in Washington on July 25 to deliver an urgent plea to White House officials: Send President Donald Trump. Patrick, who chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in the state, made the case that a Trump visit was needed to boost turnout for Cruz and the rest of the Texas Republican ticket. The lieutenant governor soon got his wish: Trump announced on Twitter late last month that he was planning a blowout October rally for Cruz, his former GOP rival. The previously unreported meeting comes as senior Republicans grow increasingly concerned about the senator’s prospects in the reliably red state, with some expressing fear that an underperformance could threaten GOP candidates running further down the ballot.”

Koch network adds new super PAC - 
Politico: “With just weeks to go before the midterm elections, the massive Koch network is adding a new super PAC to its political arsenal. The new super PAC, AFP Action, will give the Koch network’s largest arm — Americans for Prosperity — significantly more leeway to push lawmakers directly on political issues, adding another tool to AFP’s arsenal at a moment when the Koch network is trying to assert its power in Washington. Americans for Prosperity’s existing organization, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, is required by law to spend a significant amount of money on ‘social welfare’ activities and cannot expressly urge voters to cast ballots for or against a member of Congress. But the new AFP Action super PAC can expand that work by spending unlimited sums of money on political activities.”

New poll shows tossups in key House races - Monmouth University: “These are key findings from 3,390 interviews conducted in CA48, PA01, PA17, NJ03, NJ11, OH12, VA10, WV03 from June to August. … The Democratic advantage increases slightly (47% to 43%) among likely voters. It is important to note that Republicans routinely won these eight districts by double digit margins in recent election cycles. Where voters live has an impact on the margin of support. GOP House candidates are underperforming in Republican precincts relative to the Democrats’ performance in their base precincts. … Race, education and gender define key voting groups. Republicans’ core voting bloc is comprised of white men without a college degree, while Democrats can count on strong support from white female college graduates as a well as women of color regardless of educational attainment. … Partisan differences in election interest. … Strongly held opinions of Trump lean negative.”

DeSantis resigns from Congress to focus on Fla. gubernatorial campaign - Fox News: “Florida Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis said Monday he will resign from Congress to focus on his bid for governor. DeSantis, who was endorsed by President Trump, is facing Bernie Sanders-backed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in what’s shaping up to be a close, nationally-watched contest. DeSantis sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday announcing his immediate resignation. ‘As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress. Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary,’ DeSantis said. DeSantis had already decided not to run for re-election to Florida’s 6th congressional district seat. Republican Michael Waltz is facing Democrat Nancy Soderberg for DeSantis’ congressional seat in November.”

The Guardian: “According to multiple sources, Cory Booker has placed four staffers on the ground in Iowa, helping Democratic candidates, as he moves to position himself for a potential presidential bid. The New Jersey senator has long been mooted as a presidential possibility in 2020. This week he raised his national profile by daring Senate Republicans to bring ethics charges against him for releasing documents related to the supreme court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. He announced on Saturday that he will speak at the Iowa Democratic party’s annual gala, a key event for activists in the first state to hold presidential nominating contests. Among the candidates whom Booker is aiding are Rob Sand, a former state assistant attorney general recently profiled in the New York Times, and Deirdre DeJear, who would be the first woman of color elected to statewide office in Iowa.”

Gov. Jay Inslee hints at 2020 run - 
Axios: “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, outlined in a recent interview what he thinks a successful presidential candidate would look like — and it looks an awful lot like him — but fell short of saying he would run. Why he matters: Inslee, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, is emerging as a leading progressive politician and critic of President Trump. CNN included him as a potential 2020 contender, and he also went to Iowa — the magnet for politicians who see a future president in the mirror — earlier this year. ‘The one thing I can say about 2020 is our nation needs a candidate focused on making clean energy and climate change and children’s lungs a principle frontrunner issue, not a backburner issue.’ Between the lines: Inslee is one of the few progressive politicians who has made — you guessed it — climate change and clean energy a central staple of his campaigns”

AP: “Democrats don't have the votes to block Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But that didn't stop them from putting up a rowdy, leave-nothing-on-the-table fight during four days of Senate confirmation hearings that marked a new stage in the party's resistance to President Donald Trump. From the moment that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman gaveled in the first session, the proceedings were tumultuous, disrupted first by Democratic senators objecting to the rules and then by protesters shouting… The bedlam is unlikely to change any votes in the Senate. The mathematic march toward Kavanaugh's confirmation at month's end remains the same in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 edge. Still, the battle may have changed the Democrats, who are being transformed by a new generation of politicians spoiling for a fight with Trump, even if it creates political challenges for some Democratic candidates in the November election.”

Liberals frustrated by McCaskill’s evasions - McClatchy: “The same week that other Democrats relentlessly grilled Judge Brett Kavanaugh and progressive activists occupied Senate offices, Sen. Claire McCaskill complimented the federal judge’s intelligence. But in the next sentence, she listed reasons she has doubts about whether he should become a Supreme Court justice. Progressive Democrats are getting impatient with McCaskill, as the Missouri Democrat refuses to say how she plans on voting on President Donald Trump’s nominee or even comment on his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She’s waiting until after Kavanaugh submits additional answers to the committee next week. … McCaskill’s reluctance to say how she’ll vote on Kavanaugh reflects the challenge she faces running for re-election in a state that went for Trump by double digits in 2016.”

Kavanaugh views Trump as an ‘oligarch,’ Feinstein says - Fox News: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Sunday put pressure on two female Republican senators to vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying the nominee views the president as an ‘oligarch’ who cannot be charged or investigated for crimes. ‘The president believes he is above the law. And this nominee believes this president cannot be investigated, cannot be tried,’ Feinstein said at the Year of the Woman luncheon at a Santa Barbara hotel held by the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County, the Los Angeles Times reported. The senator stressed that the confirmation of Kavanaugh depends on two Republican votes – Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – both of whom are women, Feinstein emphasized.”


Fiscal showdown taking shape
 - Roll Call

Never mind… Roy Moore drops defamation lawsuit against accuser - AL.com|

“Right now I'd say [our odds are] 50-50.” – Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to CBS News when asked about her party’s chances of maintaining control of the House.


“Your description at the top of [Tuesday’s] report describing how statistics can be used, misused, and manipulated made me wonder about the coming vote on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. We know that a majority of the 100 senators is needed to confirm. We also know that several Democrat senators in red states may vote yes if Judge Kavanaugh already has enough Republican votes to be confirmed. Seems to me the order of the vote could be very important and telling.  If the Democrats can wait until all the Republicans have voted and, say, they have the needed 51 then it would be very easy for those Democrats to also vote yes. However, if the vote is taken in roll call alphabetical order, those same Democrats will need to vote before they are assured of the Republican vote total. A much more difficult vote for them. So, how will this confirmation vote be structured?” – Tom Snyder, Frankfort, Ill.

[Ed. note: Good question, Mr. Snyder! Certainly, a senator could move for a roll call vote, but that would be unusual. What will in almost every likelihood happen is that the vote will be “opened” and members will come and vote as they please. That means members can either vote early to try to start a stampede or can hang back to see who else does what. A Democrat could wait until there are 50 votes in favor to jump or until at least one other Democrat has gone over Niagara. But even if they went to a roll-call vote, members who weren’t sure they could trust the deals they had made could simply wait outside the chamber until the time was right. The operating rules of the Senate presume a quorum is present – unless proven otherwise.]    

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Global News: “Roughly 2,300 Americans ended up in hospital last year for pizza-related injuries, according to U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to recent data, the CPSC estimates 2,300 emergency room visits in 2017 were associated with pizza. The government agency noted that patients were treated for injuries caused by (but not limited to): Lacerations while attempting to a cut a pie … Burns from pizza and oven pans … Falling while carrying a pizza … Falling in a pizza joint [and] Falling out of bed while reaching for pizza. The pizza stats were included in the release of CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) injury data that is associated with consumer products and emergency room visits.”

“So why did [Trump fire Comey]? Now we know: The king asked whether no one would rid him of this troublesome priest, and got so impatient he did it himself.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on May 11, 2017.  

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.