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The Washington Report – August 7, 2015
07 Aug 2015

The Washington Report – August 7, 2015

To all my readers, just want to let you know that the Washington Report will be back after Labor Day, when Congress returns from recess. That said, there may be times when I’m in touch with something you may find interesting or relevant. Enjoy the rest of summer!



Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Steve Moffitt, Alan MacLeod, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Ross Willkom)


capitolADIOS, SENATE – RECESS HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED ON CAPITOL HILL Politico: “The Senate cut its week short Wednesday, scrapping plans to take up debate on a cybersecurity bill and instead adjourning for its month-long summer recess. The Senate, along with the House, will return after Labor Day with plans to move directly to the Iranian nuclear deal. … “Mark your calendar: The Senate will begin debating President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran on Sept. 8, with a roll call vote no later than Sept. 17. … McConnell has said he hopes that all 100 senators participate in the Iran discussion while at their desks and suggested that all committee hearings be canceled during the deliberations.” U.S. CAPITOL GETS A HALO AS CONGRESS LEAVES FOR RECESS … What does it all mean? WashPost: “… photographer Phil Yabut captured this photo of a 22-degree halo enveloping the Capitol as Congress vacates for its annual August recess. 22-degree halos are fairly common, especially as high-level clouds stream in out in front of an approaching low pressure system. The halo appears when sunlight is refracted through the tiny ice crystals that form the wispy cirrus clouds.” RECESS HISTORY … AND ‘MANUFACTURED WEATHER’ Senate gov: “Each year, Congress recesses for the month of August. During the Senate’s early years, senators typically convened a session in December and adjourned in the spring, before the summer heat overwhelmed them and their small staff. When the Senate moved to its current chamber in 1859, senators were optimistic about its “modern” ventilation system, but they found the new system ineffective. The 1920s brought “manufactured weather” to the Senate chamber, but even modern climate control could not cope with the hottest days, forcing 20th-century senators to find ways to escape the summer heat. By the mid-20th century, a more modern air conditioning system brought relief, but year-long sessions presented new problems. By the 1950s the job of a U.S. senator was a full-time, year-round job and there were very few breaks built into the legislative calendar. In 1963, for example, the Senate met from January to December without a break longer than a three-day weekend. Consequently, members of Congress sought a way to establish a summertime recess. In 1970, finally facing the reality of year-long sessions, Congress mandated a summer break as part of the Legislative Reorganization Act. Today, the August recess continues to be a regular feature of the Senate schedule, a chance for senators to spend time with family, meet with constituents in their home states, and catch up on summer reading.”


DEBATE WAS HUGELY ENTERTAINING.  WE LEARNED ALMOST NOTHING. The Fix: Thursday’s inaugural 2016 GOP primary debate was much ado about not-quite-nothing. The so-called “Happy Hour” forum for the lesser candidates kind of spilled the secret more than three hours before the debate began. There was a lot of talk, just a little jazz, but not much in the way of campaign-altering substance. And it seems that with the exception of a few moments during the main event — when Ohio Gov. John Kasich offered a robust defense of his decision to expand Medicaid and a moderate position on same-sex marriage, that civil liberties face-off between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), and when Jeb Bush offered some defense of Common Core and turned, awkwardly, to look Trump in the eye during a uniquely Trump litany on immigration — that’s what we all got later in the evening, too. PUT ANOTHER WAY: TRUMP DID TRUMP. The nine other men on that stage doubled down on their established, political personas and expected patterns. It was new to many viewers. And it could affect the polls accordingly. But by night’s end we didn’t learn much. BIG OPENING At the outset, Fox Newss Bret Baier asked all the candidates whether they would pledge to ultimately support the Republican nominee and refrain from running as an independent if the Republican nomination went to someone else. BIG SHRUG FROM TRUMP Trump will support the nominee if that nominee is Trump, he said; he couldn’t guarantee anything beyond that. Ultimately, what the collection of eight experienced public servants, along with Trump and retired surgeon Ben Carson, also proved Thursday evening is precisely why Trump has not just the lead but a solid hold of a lot of voter energy. There was an awful lot proffered in the main debate that could have and has been said before. There was not much in the way of policy specifics, big or new ideas. And there certainly wasn’t a move towards the kind of data and detail that debate experts said would be the key to besting Trump — or, at least, rattling him. TRUMP PROVES HE’S A MASTER OF PERFORMANCE ART with sub-specialty in outrageous comments, while largely saying nothing at all. When he’s in rare form, Trump also puts himself near the center of all matters. And he certainly did that Thursday night. IN THE END And while we know that most of the men on that stage are fans of Reagan, fans of small government and balanced budgets and economic growth, it’s unlikely many Americans came away from the debate with much in the way of specific policies that each would advance to address the issues that top the list of voter concerns. None of that is to say that Trump’s still-forward-moving campaign is any less a circus than it was before. It’s just that, in this critical democratic exercise — the first of the primary debates — no one really did anything to take him down, much less take him out. And if anyone came anywhere close at all but didn’t go over the edge, it was Donald Trump himself.”

7 DEBATE TAKEAWAYS Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “1. Jeb was meh. … 2. Trump’s act is wearing thin – especially with women … 3. Paging Ted Cruz. … 4. The real Trump effect: Lots of fireworks, less substance. … 5. John Kasich is emerging as a top-tier candidate. … 6. Rand Paul needed to attack – and he did [Christie]. 7. Scott Walker was so-so – but had the best line of the night. … ‘[P]robably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s email server than do the members of the United States Congress.'”

AND ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Top debate moment, per official Facebook analytics: Chris Christie-Rand Paul interaction on the NSA … Top issues: 1. Immigration 2. Racial issues 3. The economy 4. Education 5. Abortion. … Top candidates discussed: 1. Donald Trump 2. Ben Carson 3. Rand Paul 4. Mike Huckabee 5. Chris Christie. FACEBOOK –“7.5 million people throughout Facebook in the U.S. made 20 million interactions (likes, posts, comments and shares) related to the debate.” TWITTER Top moments, per official analytics: “1. Rand Paul and Chris Christie go head to head about 9/11 and Hugs. … 2. Trump references Hillary Clinton coming to his wedding and telling Rand: ‘I didn’t say that — you’re having a hard time tonight‘ … 3. Trump responds to question about negative language towards women. … 4. Closing Statements begin … 5. Moderators ask candidates whether or not they had a word from God.” Percentage of conversation: 1. Donald Trump 30.38% … 2. Ben Carson 11.97% … 3. Rand Paul 9.84% … 4. Mike Huckabee 8.89% … 5. John Kasich 8.36% … 6. Ted Cruz 8.11% … 7. Jeb Bush 6.74% … 8. Scott Walker 5.98% … 9. Marco Rubio 5.35% … 10. Chris Christie 4.39%.

SHOT – Dan Balz “The Take” column on WashPost, “For now, The Donald remains on top”: “[T]he others … might be forced to recalibrate their assessments of whether Trump is a comet flashing across the political skies or someone who eventually will have to be confronted directly in order to stop him. The evening showed that the Republicans have a field of candidates potentially capable of stopping him.”
CHASER – Frank Bruni NYTs: “Trump lost: He said nothing, not one syllable, that infused his candidacy with any of the gravitas that it sorely needs … Bush avoided any gaffes and discovered a bit of the spark that he often lacks. John Kasich charted a humane midcourse for Republicans trying to reconcile personal misgivings over same-sex marriage with how the Supreme Court has ruled.”

FAV TWEETS: @AriFleischer: “It’s going to be a long race. Tonight is the first of many events and Iowa isn’t until February. It’s going to take a while 2sort this out.”… ‏@pourmecoffee: “That was like a Game of Thrones episode. I’m going to have to see it again to figure out who’s dead.”  … Garrett Jackson ‏(@dgjackson, former Romney body guy): “Tip to Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Trump’s teams from an old pro…ease up on the boss’s makeup.” … @BuzzFeedBen: “Roger Ailes clearly the winner of this. This is really good TV.”

HAPPY HOUR DEBATE The Fix: “Carly Fiorina was the only woman on stage at the so-called “Happy Hour” debate on Thursday night. She was also the only one of the seven candidates who made clear that she deserves more attention — and a more prime spot in the debates — as the campaign continues.

GOP CANDIDATES WANT A BIGGER MILITARY MorningD: “There were fireworks, shouting matches and veiled insults – but one thing the Republican presidential candidates appeared to agree on Thursday night was the need for increased Pentagon spending. It seems the isolationist bent that was all the rage in the Republican Party just a few years ago has gone out of style for just about all the major players in the GOP field except Sen. Rand Paul – and even he’s more muscular on foreign policy than he used to be.”


DEMS DEBATES Politico: “[S]ix debates are scheduled, with six different sponsors: Oct. 13 in Nevada (hosted by CNN); Nov. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa (CBS/KCCI and The Des Moines Register); Dec. 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire (ABC/WMUR); Jan. 17 in Charleston, South Carolina (NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute); and two scheduled for either February or March in Miami and Wisconsin, hosted by Univision/The Washington Post, and PBS.”


GAME CHANGER? NYTs: ‘Schumer Opposes Iran Nuclear Deal, Shaking Democratic Firewall, “Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed,’ Mr. Schumer … said in a lengthy statement … paves the way for other Democrats on the fence to join Republicans in showing their disapproval.”  N.Y. POST —  “CHUCK NO!

WAS LOOKING FOR A WAY TO GET TO ‘NOPolitico: “Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), the number three Senate Democrat and presumptive Democratic leader following Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) retirement, came out against President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. This is big, although not a shocker. … Schumer always faced a difficult choice on Iran and had been wrestling with this issue for months. Been pretty clear to some on the Hill that Schumer was ‘looking for a way to get to no,’ joked one Senate insider. Schumer’s decision came as Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, came out against the deal while Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she was in favor of the agreement. Engel’s announcement was about as surprising as the sun rising in the East & setting in the West. So despite Gillibrand’s statement, Thursday was overall a bad day for Obama on Iran. Also … Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) announced her support for Iran deal.DISSENSION RollCall: “Did Sen. Charles E. Schumer just open himself up to a serious challenge to lead Senate Democrats in 2017? Top allies of the president say yes — and a major liberal advocacy group now wants him gone. MoveOn (with 8 million members) announced a “donor strike” after the New York Democrat’s announcement that he opposes the Iran deal.”


CLEAN POWER PLAN UNVEILED NPR: “An epic legal battle is about to begin over President Obama’s plan to address climate change, in which the Environmental Protection Agency is putting in place new limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. Critics argue the plan is on shaky legal ground, but the administration says it’s prepared to defend the regulations in court. … Critics already were pretty worked up over a draft plan released last year — then learned on Monday that the final regulations are even tougher. … These are the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants,” according to the EPA, which adds that power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., generating 32% of the total emissions. Key elements of the Clean Power Plan include a requirement that would cut the power industry’s carbon pollution by 32% below 2005 levels in the next 15 years. The plan also seeks to boost renewable energy. IN OPPO Opponents, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, have promised to fight the climate rule, and they’re urging states not to comply with the EPA regulation. The final rule does provide a somewhat more flexible timeline for power companies, with the deadline for action pushed back two years to 2022.”


REMEMBER THE GYROCOPTER? CNN, “Missteps caused the U.S. Secret Service and other federal agencies to fail to stop a Florida man from flying a gyrocopter over some of the protected air space in America before landing near the U.S. Capitol, a Senate report released Wednesday found. The Senate Homeland Security Committee report said the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police didn’t do enough to investigate the plans of the pilot, Doug Hughes, which were known as early as 2013.”


THE GREAT ARTIC OFFICE CONSPIRACY NYTs: “It happens every summer: Offices turn on the air-conditioning, and women freeze into Popsicles. Finally, scientists (two men, for the record) are urging an end to the Great Arctic Office Conspiracy. Their study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, says that most office buildings set temperatures based on a decades-old formula that uses the metabolic rates of men. The study concludes that buildings should “reduce gender-discriminating bias in thermal comfort” because setting temperatures at slightly warmer levels can help combat global warming. The study says most building thermostats follow a “thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s,” which considers factors like air temperature, air speed, vapor pressure and clothing insulation, using a version of Fanger’s thermal comfort equation … for those interested: PMV = [0.303e-0.036M + 0.028]{(M – W) – 3.96E-8ƒcl[(tcl + 273)4 – (tr + 273)4] – ƒclhc(tcl – ta) – 3.05[5.73 – 0.007(M – W) – pa] – 0.42[(M – W) – 58.15] – 0.0173M(5.87 – pa) – 0.0014M(34 – ta)} … It is converted to a seven-point scale and compared against the Predicted Percentage Dissatisfied, a gauge of how many people are likely to feel uncomfortably cool or warm. Seems simple enough. BUT, BUT, BUT … Dr. Kingma and his colleague, Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, write that one variable in the formula, resting metabolic rate (how fast we generate heat), is based on a 40-year-old man weighing about 154 pounds. Maybe that man once represented most people in offices. But women now constitute half of the work force and usually have slower metabolic rates than men, mostly because they are smaller and have more body fat, which has lower metabolic rates than muscle. Indeed, the study says, the current model “may overestimate resting heat production of women by up to 35 percent.” “If women have lower need for cooling it actually means you can save energy, because right now we’re just cooling for this male population,” said Joost van Hoof, a building physicist at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study. Many men think that women are just nagging,” he said. “But it’s because of their physiology.” CHANGE THE FORMULA Researchers found the women’s average metabolic rate was 20 to 32 percent lower than rates in the standard chart used to set building temperature. So they propose adjusting the model to include actual metabolic rates of women and men, plus factors like body tissue insulation, not just clothing.”


50 YEARS AGO THURSDAY: LBJ signed Voting Rights Act 70 YEARS AGO THURSDAY — AP: “On August 6, 1945, during World War II, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths. (Three days later, the United States exploded a nuclear device over Nagasaki; five days after that, Imperial Japan announced its surrender.)” NEXT DAY N.Y. Times, “FIRST ATOMIC BOMB DROPPED ON JAPAN; MISSILE IS EQUAL TO 20,000 TONS OF TNT; TRUMAN WARNS FOE OF A ‘RAIN OF RUIN’: NEW AGE USHERED.”


B.E.A.R.DSUPERPAC NAMES NPR: “Because superPACs aren’t legally allowed to donate money directly to or coordinate with a political campaign, founders often give them patriotic but purposefully vague names. There’s Keep the Promise (supporting Ted Cruz), Opportunity and Freedom (Perry), Priorities USA Action (Clinton), and Pursuing America’s Greatness (Huckabee). SuperPACs can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, individuals, and other associations and can spend freely to support or oppose a given candidate.But not every superPAC aims for a serious name or even a serious platform. The threshold to legally form such a committee is low enough that many Americans have formed their own superPACs for a small platform, as a joke, or to make a statement about superPACs themselves, like comedian Stephen Colbert did in 2011 with Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. All superPAC owners-to-be need to do to create one is fill out FEC Form 1, then submit a letter to identify as a superPAC using a template. After registering as a superPAC, filers must file regular reports to disclose their receipts and disbursements. COULDN’T RESIST (SEE PICTURE) And then there’s the ‘Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of Responsible Democracy (or B.E.A.R.D.)’ Bearded co-founders Jonathan Sessions and Andrew Shapiro plan to use the $52 that their superPAC has raised so far this year to support bearded candidates to win elections.”


FAREWELL JON The Hill: “On Thursday night 10 presidential candidates were on a stage in Cleveland, and the already crowded Republican primary race began in earnest with the first day of debates, live on Fox News. The perfect Jon Stewart moment. But Mr. Stewart won’t be around to skewer the participants.. … Jon Stewart made a teary exit from the late-night comedy stage on Thursday with a parade of “The Daily Show” alumni and farewell zingers from some of his famous political guests. Stewart ended his 16-year run on the show surrounded by more than a dozen of his former correspondents, including Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Ed Helms and Samantha Bee. At one point, the reunited colleagues filled the stage for a group hug. But it was good friend and future “Late Show” host Colbert who brought Stewart to tears as he chased him around the stage promising to make his tribute quick “if you will just hold still. “Please don’t do this,” Stewart pleaded as Colbert lavished him with praise for all the guidance he provided when launching comedic careers.  “We owe you because we learned from you, we learned from you by example how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect,” Colbert said. You were infuriatingly good at your job.” There was also a cameo by incoming “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, who pretended to measure the set — which is actually being sent to the Newseum in Washington.  Stewart’s final “moment of zen” was Bruce Springsteen and his E Street band.”

-Jon Stewart
“But rather then saying goodbye or goodnight I’m going to say — I’m going to get a drink.” Thank you Jon Stewart, its been a great run. (Check out our own Ross Wilkom’s Blog Post ‘Thanks Jon Stewart’)

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