St. Beto and the August altar call

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On the roster: St. Beto and the August altar call - Time Out: Iconic - In Indiana Senate race, both candidates embrace Trump - Poll: Two thirds say Trump should talk to Mueller - That Jell-O must be some kind of good 

The slanting sun of late summer is conspiring with air damper than a dog’s breath to make the end of August most uncomfortable here on the Potomac. It’s too hot to cook, so how about a six-piece news nugget meal instead.

We have talked from time to time about how the word “Evangelical” has lost its utility in political demography. Once it identified a devout, spirit-filled branch of Protestantism, but by 2016, the term has gradually come to be understood by survey respondents as some kind of generic intensifier for the noun “Christian” with little correlation to church-going rates, beliefs, etc. (Theologian and teacher Tim Keller wrote usefully on the phenomenon here.) The good people at the Pew Research Center seem to have heard our pleas and have debuted a fascinating and detailed breakdown of religious beliefs and practices among Americans, including a seven-category sorting. This looks like a good start for a more useful conversation about the intersection of politics and religion.

Speaking of Pew, the indispensable Amy Walter of Cook Political Report mined the center’s recently-released trove of 2016 voter data in the name of fostering a more intelligent conversation about “white” voters. Her analysis should be the death knell for lazy shorthand writing that treats 74 percent of the electorate as some kind of monolithic bloc. Alas, writers will no doubt continue to tell their readers that three quarters of the electorate is moved by the same issues and concerns. It’s too bad because aside from generating some mind-bendingly dull analysis, that kind of thinking is deeply divisive. The truth is that affluence, education, geography and other things say far more about the distribution of votes than does race.

- Another day, another long-form gushy piece about the political gifts of Rep. Beto O’Rourke. This time it’s from Vanity Fair but it is just one of a herd of articles that extol the gifts of the congressman running to unseat Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The Beto-ification of St. O’Rourke has gotten more than a little throne-inducing. At a certain point the massive expectation for the congressman will begin to work against him. It’s already working against Democrats as the charismatic Texan absorbs attention and donations that would probably be better spent on more competitive contests. But there is something else going on here. It may sound crazy to be talking about a congressman in a long-shot Senate race as a potential 2020 candidate, but O’Rourke really is gifted and Democrats really do tend to swoon rather than select when it comes to their favorite nominees.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the oldest newspaper west of the Alleghenies, was founded in 1786. It played key roles in major moments in American history, from ratifying the Constitution, the Civil War to industrial era labor unrest. And as of this week, the paper will no longer be published daily, leaving Pittsburgh as the largest American city without a daily newspaper. While the management promises that robust digital editions on Mondays and Tuesdays will keep up standards for local coverage, we think this a signal moment. There is a great deal that’s causing American politics to lapse so deeply into moronic cruelty, but we would place high on that list the demise of local news outlets. It’s too easy to hate political rivals in far-off places. It’s harder to hate your neighbors (unless they’re Pitt fans).

- Like many of you probably have, we’ve been collecting some of the finest remembrances of John McCain’s extraordinarily American life. Wonderful stories abound. But save a moment for our friend Judge Andrew Napolitano’s piece. McCain the foreign policy hawk and Judge Nap the libertarian anti-interventionist seemed on the surface to be unlikely friends. And yet they found a way. “The John McCain I knew discussed only torture, the right to life, and immigration with me -- perhaps because he knew we disagreed on nearly all other matters. But this tough old Arizona bird, this lifelong warrior, this unorthodox maverick who really was neither a Republican nor a Democrat, knew how to keep friends and monitor enemies. He was a multidimensional man in a secular era, and he was not happy about America at the end of his days. Yet in this age of few heroes, and on topics that intimately touch the human heart and soul, he was the genuine article.” Read it all here.
- President Trump warned Christian leaders this week at a pre-midterm White House dinner that there would be violence surrounding this fall’s elections. We hope this ends up being just scare-mongering hogwash. But we also have to allow that given the putrescence of our national discussion these days, it’s certainly possible. We have fallen so far for decent discourse that physical brutality is sometimes the next inevitable step. But this is exactly why it is dangerous for faith leaders to be so closely allied with a political leader. It’s precisely because we rely on clergy members to be a balm to our ragged collective soul. They lose their power as intermediating forces when they pick sides.  

“The most that the convention could do in such a situation, was to avoid the errors suggested by the past experience of other countries, as well as of our own; and to provide a convenient mode of rectifying their own errors, as future experiences may unfold them.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 37

Atlantic: “The fields of graphic design and semiotics are inextricably linked. In this way, the first logo creators were most likely the ancient Egyptians, who designed images to convey socio-cultural values and established visual codes of representation. But as the industrial revolution began to give rise to consumer culture as we know it, logo design remained mostly utilitarian; images that represented brands often depicted either the product, the service, or something related to its manufacture, such as a factory. Then came Paul Rand with his iconic rendering of the IBM logo in 1956. Many design historians see this as the definitive turning point in logo design. Shortly thereafter, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar founded a design firm that would take things one step further. ‘They revolutionized the field when they created simple, bold, memorable, and whimsical identities for companies in a time when soulless corporate modernism was the trend,’ said Dan Covert, whose short documentary, 60 Years of Logos, details the contributions of the grandfathers of logo design. … These days, said Covert, it’s rare to find a logo that survives five years before it is redesigned.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -10.6 points
Change from one week ago: down 1 point
[Average includes: USA Today/Suffolk: 40% approve - 56% disapprove - NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 51% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.2 percent
Democratic average: 50 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8.8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.2 points
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 50% Dems - 42% GOP; Fox News: 49% Dems - 38% GOP; Monmouth University: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 51% Dems - 42% GOP; CNN: 52% Dems - 41% GOP.]

Indianapolis Star: “As President Donald Trump prepares to return to Indiana tonight to rally Republicans behind Senate candidate Mike Braun, both Braun and his Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly are working to closely align themselves with the president or his policies. … In the past week, both Braun and Donnelly released ads featuring them shaking Trump's hand. [Political] scientists say the Senate candidates' decisions to staple themselves to Trump is the right move in a red-state such as Indiana, which Trump carried by 19 percentage points in 2016. … Trump's message of support for Braun will likely be as impactful at the president's rally in Evansville tonight as it was in Elkhart in May — in what is one of the most closely watched and pivotal Senate races in the nation.”

Cruz, O'Rourke debating debates -
 Houston Chronicle: “Democrat Beto O’Rourke and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz both said their campaigns are getting close to a deal on debates. ‘Both sides are talking,’ O’Rourke said after an event in Austin on Tuesday. ‘I’m confident we’ll work something out. I’m pretty confident we’re going to see debates.’ On WBAP New Talk Radio with host Chris Salcedo, Cruz also confirmed that they are getting close to an agreement. ‘He has had his staff members emailing back and forth with my campaign,’ Cruz said. ‘They may agree to a couple of debates. They’re going back and forth about dates and this and that.’ Still, Cruz used the radio interview to say that it seems like O’Rourke, an El Paso Congressman, doesn’t want to debate because he refused a set of showdowns Cruz proposed that would have started on Friday night. O’Rourke said he rejected that plan because Cruz’s campaign made it an ‘ultimatum’ where they would choose the time, the place, the moderators and what issues could be talked about.”

Huge haul for Dem group in August - Axios: “The online fundraising platform ActBlue raised $100 million in August for Democratic candidates, marking their biggest fundraising month since they launched in 2004. Why it matters: Liberal activists and donors are showing no signs of slowing down before the 2018 midterm elections. The backdrop: Over 2.2 million contributions, including 7,350 campaigns and organizations, all led to this month's $100 million raised. … The group raised $91 million in June and $83 million in July. They previously announced raising a total of $1 billion this cycle for Democratic candidates. 61% of donors this cycle are women, Hill told Axios, up from 54% in 2016. Some of the candidates who benefit most from ActBlue's fundraising include Beto O'Rourke running for U.S. Senate in Texas, as well as Democratic gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida, Tony Evers in Wisconsin, Rich Cordray in Ohio, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan.”

Poll shows N.Y. Rep. Tenney faces tight re-election fight - Siena College: “Seeking her first re-election, Republican Representative Claudia Tenney has the support of 44 percent of likely voters, two points behind Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, supported by 46 percent, according to a new Spectrum News/Siena College poll of likely 22nd C.D. voters released today. Brindisi has a 44-27 percent favorability rating compared to Tenney’s negative 42-47 percent favorability rating. ‘In a district with 30,000 more Republicans than Democrats, incumbent Republican Tenney is barely holding her own versus Democratic challenger Brindisi, who leads 46-44 percent,’ said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. ‘Brindisi is supported by 24 percent of Republicans, holding Tenney to 66 percent Republican support, while Brindisi is supported by 80 percent of Democrats. Independents are virtually evenly divided. Neither candidate leads by more than four points in any region of this sprawling district. Tenney leads with men by 13 points and Brindisi leads with women by 16 points.’”

Obama ally Deval Patrick lays groundwork for possible 2020 run - Politico: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick launched a new PAC Wednesday, the latest sign that the Democrat's political ambitions may not be through ahead of 2020. The new Reason to Believe PAC is aimed at ‘promoting Governor Patrick’s positive vision for Democrats to rally around in 2018,’ according to its website. The political action committee announced its launch on Wednesday afternoon. Patrick, a rumored contender in the next presidential election, has said he will decide whether to run by the end of the year. After two terms as Massachusetts' governor, Patrick rejoined the private sector at Bain Capital. But he has ramped back up his political involvement, including meeting with former President Barack Obama in Washington this year.”

USA Today: “The guilty plea by Donald Trump's former lawyer to campaign finance violations and other charges raises serious questions about the president's behavior, a majority of Americans say in a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll. Nearly two-thirds say the president should agree to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Those surveyed express significantly higher levels of trust in Mueller's rectitude than in Trump's denials that his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. … Fifty-five percent say they have a lot or some trust in Mueller's investigation to be fair and accurate. Thirty-five percent say they have a lot or some trust in Trump's denials of collusion.” 

Stone milks donors on warning of indictment -
 NBC News: “Days after he predicted the president's eldest son would soon be indicted, longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone is appealing for contributions to a legal defense fund, saying he expects to be charged with a crime. Stone, whose history with Trump goes back nearly four decades, says in a letter to supporters that special counsel Robert Mueller's team is ‘examining every aspect of my personal, private, family, social, business and political life.’ The goal, Stone says, is ‘to frame me for some nonexistent crime to silence me and pressure me to testify against the president. ... I am not going to do it.’ A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment. While it is known that many associates of Stone have come under scrutiny by the special counsel's office, it is not clear whether Stone is a target of the investigation.”

Obscure case could determine whether Mueller's report sees light of day -
Fox News: “An obscure federal case being heard in Washington next month could determine whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s pending full report on Russian interference in the 2016 election gathers dust in a secret file – or sees the light of day. The case involves one man's quest for records related to the 1956 disappearance of Columbia University professor Jesus de Galindez – and has nothing to do with President Trump, Russian collusion or Mueller. But it deals with secrecy surrounding grand jury testimony, and that makes it relevant to the ongoing Russia probe.”

Insiders push lawyer who zapped CNN’s owner as next White House counsel - Bloomberg

“CUOMO: Can you stop interrupting? 
NIXON: Can you stop lying? 
CUOMO: As soon as you do.” 
– New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary debate with challenger Cynthia Nixon Wednesday night.

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Lexington [Ky.] Herald-Leader: “A Knox County man was arrested at Baptist Health Corbin Friday after he allegedly faked a heart attack to take an ambulance ride to its cafeteria. Around 2 p.m. Friday, a Knox County sheriff deputy responded to a report of a stolen gun at a Corbin residence, according to the sheriff. The sheriff’s department determined Kenneth Ray Couch, 35, was the alleged suspect, it said. The deputy learned that Couch had been picked up by an ambulance at Dixon’s Market after he said he was having a heart attack, the sheriff’s department said. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Couch got out of the ambulance and walked to the cafeteria, according to the sheriff. Couch was located inside the cafeteria, where he was arrested. He was charged with burglary and falsely reporting an incident.”

“Whatever your substantive position on the various issues … we should all be grateful that from the generals to the Scouts, from the senators to the cops, the institutions of both political and civil society are holding up well.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Aug. 3, 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.