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Executive action on immigration is still coming

The news from this AP story isn’t that the Obama White House is weighing executive action on immigration. We knew that, of course. What IS news is that the humanitarian crisis at the border hasn’t seemed to change their calculation. And the White House seems even more emboldened after House Republicans’ upcoming lawsuit against the president, as well as renewed talk of impeachment. “Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the border, White House officials are making plans to act before November's midterm elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration,” the AP says. “Such a large-scale move on immigration could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama, a prospect White House officials have openly discussed.” What kind of executive actions is Obama considering? “Advocates and lawmakers who were in separate meetings Friday said that administration officials are weighing a range of options including reforms to the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country, likely by expanding Obama's two-year-old directive that granted work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths.” Expect these actions to take place in August -- after Congress leaves town.

The Nunn Files

All campaigns offer frank assessments about their candidate’s strengths and weaknesses (the political campaign textbooks call them SWOTs -- standing for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). But rarely do they become public. Yet that’s EXACTLY what happened yesterday, when National Review wrote about Michelle Nunn’s (D) apparently leaked strategy memos. “Michelle Nunn can come across as a ‘lightweight,’ ‘too liberal,’ not a ‘real Georgian.’ While she served as CEO for the Points of Light Foundation, the organization gave service awards to ‘inmates’ and ‘terrorists.’ And her Senate campaign must feature images of her and her family ‘in rural settings with rural-oriented imagery’ because the Atlanta-based candidate will struggle to connect with rural voters. These may sound like attacks from the Senate candidate’s Republican rival, but in fact, those are a few of the concerns expressed in her own campaign plan, which sources say was posted online briefly in December and appears to have been drafted earlier that month.” What’s more, the memos’ frank discussion of Jews, Asians, and African Americans might not surprise political professionals, but they might sound a bit jarring to the casual observer.

Talk about a major unforced error

As Taegan Goddard observed, the Nunn campaign either has a leaker or someone who’s very careless. Either way, the revelation isn’t good for her consultants’ business, that’s for sure. More importantly, this is something Nunn can’t afford. If she’s going to win -- in this environment, in the red state of Georgia -- she’s got to run a flawless campaign. Talk about a major unforced error. And the timing couldn’t be worse for Nunn: This story comes out just after the GOP’s nine-week runoff and with the start of the general election, Yesterday, the Nunn campaign released this statement from its campaign manager, per NBC’s Kasie Hunt: "This was a draft of a document that was written eight months ago. Like all good plans, they change. But what hasn't changed and is all the more clear today is that Michelle's opponents are going to mischaracterize her work and her positions, and part of what we've always done is to prepare for the false things that are going to be said.” By the way, this is the second revelation in the past week (the John Walsh plagiarism charge was the first) where a surprising story or disclosure has rocked a Senate race -- to the GOP’s benefit. More broadly, what the Nunn memo reveals is the seedy underbelly of what it takes to win campaigns in the 21st Century… from the amount of fundraising it takes to the ham-handed constituency-group nature of building together a winning coalition.

U.S. alleges Russia violated missile treaty

Just as the old Cold War rivalry between the United States and Russia has been rekindled comes the apparent violation of an old Cold War treaty. The New York Times: “The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark [1987] arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a letter on Monday.” The timing of this U.S. allegation is important, because it comes as the United States is getting European countries to agree to a new round of sanctions against Russia for its increasing intervention in Eastern Ukraine. And it’s worth noting that this 1987 treaty has to do with mid-range cruise missiles -- the kind that could hit Europe. In isolation, this treaty violation by the Russians wasn’t considered a big deal. But coupled with other actions, the U.S. saw an opportunity to prosecute its case against Putin even further, particularly as the U.S. tries to keep the Europeans on board their sanctions campaign.

Criticism is one thing, but criticism from a good friend is another

Regarding the Middle East conflict between Israel and Hamas, it’s striking how public Israel has become in criticizing its biggest -- and perhaps only -- ally in the United States. And what happens is that they become domestic issues in American politics. The latest example is what we wrote about yesterday: Israel’s anger at Secretary of State John Kerry over the ceasefire he was trying to arrange. "It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, per the AP. What you need to know is that all of this criticism is something that the Obama administration takes very personally (especially after Israel announced settlements while Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel and after Netanyahu’s not-so-subtle support for Mitt Romney in 2012).

Ernst’s Declaration of Nullification?

Meanwhile, the Daily Beast obtained video of Iowa Senate nominee Joni Ernst (R) appearing to believe that states can nullify federal laws. “You know, we have talked about this at the state legislature before -- nullification. But bottom line is: As U.S. senator, why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying?” she asked at a Sept. 2013 forum. “Bottom line: Our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…We’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the 10th Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So bottom line: No, we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying.” Not only is that kind of odd for a U.S. Senate to say (Congress and the Senate shouldn’t be passing laws states might not like), it’s exactly the kind of thing that opponent Bruce Braley (D) wants to seize on -- to turn the race into a partisan/ideological war.

Democrat Tennant blasts Obama in new TV ad

Finally, in West Virginia’s Senate race, don’t miss Natalie Tennant’s (D) tough new TV ad -- not against opponent Shelley Moore Capito (R) in her West Virginia Senate race, but rather against President Obama on coal. The ad shows an image of the White House, with Tennant saying: “Where do they think their electricity comes from? You and I know it’s our hardworking West Virginia coal miners that power America.” Then Tennant says as she turns off a power source, “I’ll make sure President Obama gets the message.” It’s not Joe Manchin with a rifle shot at cap-and-trade, but it’s close. And the TV ad shows the lights going off at the White House. National Democrats see the ad as Tennant’s best shot to get into the game. Remember, TV ads in West Virginia are pretty cheap. And Democrats’ chances in Montana and South Dakota are pretty non-existent. So they’re testing West Virginia, even if Tennant’s chances are that great.

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