The New York Times: “With a critical showdown over Brexit looming in Parliament, Britain’s mercurial new prime minister, Boris Johnson, took his opponents by surprise again Monday by threatening a snap general election if they defy him in a crucial vote to be held on Tuesday.
A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Johnson had told the cabinet that if lawmakers vote against the government on Tuesday, he would seek the go-ahead for a general election to be held on Oct. 14.
The move is intended to pressure rebel lawmakers in his own party to pull back from supporting legislation to stop a potentially disorderly British exit from the European Union without any agreement on Oct. 31.
But it also raises the prospect that Britons could soon be voting in the third general election in a little over four years — just ahead of one of the most important decisions in British history.”
At the same time, “Boris Johnson has dramatically escalated the Conservative civil war on Brexit by threatening to purge some of the party’s biggest beasts — including former chancellor Philip Hammond — unless they back him in a key Brexit vote on Tuesday,” the Financial Times reports.
“The UK prime minister has warned Conservative rebels they will be stripped of the party whip and banned from standing as Tory candidates at the next election if they do not back his tough line on Brexit.”
“By throwing rebel MPs out of the parliamentary party Mr Johnson would be surrendering his slender House of Commons majority of one, increasing the likelihood of an early general election.”
The purge is akin to denying renomination to the incumbent, all the while going into a six week election campaign, which would severely hamper the Conservative Party’s efforts to win.
New York Times: “If you were looking for the perfect distillation of how dysfunctional the American system of electing the president is, it would be hard to top last week’s federal appeals court ruling allowing ‘electors’ — the members of the Electoral College — to vote for whomever they want, rather than the candidate they were pledged to support…”
“After electors unanimously chose the nonpartisan George Washington in the first two elections, national political parties developed and electors became partisan actors who voted for their party’s candidate.”
“In other words, electors aren’t distinguished citizens weighing whether the people have made a wise decision on their presidential ballot; they are men and women chosen because of their partisan loyalty. So it’s understandable that after years of tightly contested elections, Americans are aghast that an elector would dare to substitute his judgment for the will of the people.”
“A couple of Washington’s top literary agents say President Trump’s former personal secretary, Madeleine Westerhout, could make millions if she writes a tell-all of her time working for the president,” Axios reports.
“Keith Urbahn and Matt Latimer — who run the literary agency Javelin and secured 7-figure book deals for former FBI director James Comey and former White House official Cliff Sims — say most publishers in the country right now want a meeting with Westerhout.”
“But a source close to Westerhout says she has ‘no intention’ of writing a book about her time working for the president. The source added that Westerhout had ‘very positive’ experiences with President Trump and would have nothing negative to say.”
Jonathan Swan: “Senior officials tell me they are increasingly concerned about Beijing’s treatment of activists in Hong Kong and, increasingly, fear overreach that could also target Taiwan. This comes as any chance of an armistice in the trade war seems to be shrinking away.”
“Based on numerous conversations with Trump administration officials over the last few weeks, it is clear that many of the president’s top advisers view China first and foremost as a national security threat rather than as an economic partner.”
“This is a new normal. And it’s poised to affect huge parts of American life, from the cost of many consumer goods — likely to go up under a punishing new round of tariffs — to the nature of this country’s relationship with the government of Taiwan.”
Washington Post: “What followed was what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities. Trump leveled racist attacks against four congresswomen of color dubbed ‘the Squad.’ He derided the majority-black city of Baltimore as ‘rat and rodent infested.’ His anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed in a missive that authorities believe a mass shooting suspect posted. His visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso after the gun massacres in those cities served to divide rather than heal.”
“Trump’s economy also began to falter, with the markets ping-ponging based on the president’s erratic behavior. His trade war with China grew more acrimonious. His whipsaw diplomacy at the Group of Seven summit left allies uncertain about American leadership. The president returned from his visit to France in a sour mood, frustrated by what he felt was unfairly negative news coverage of his trip.”
“The two months between Independence Day and Labor Day offered a fresh and vivid portrait of the president as seen by Trump’s critics — incompetent, indecisive, intolerant and ineffective.”
“Pete Buttigieg, who has dazzled Democratic donors but plateaued in the polls, plans to accelerate his presidential campaign in the coming weeks, with a concerted push to transform his fundraising success into fastened support in the early nominating states,” McClatchy reports.
“The South Bend mayor’s campaign is expected to announce in the coming days a flurry of staffing hires and new office openings in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as a director of African-American engagement, who will be crucial to outreach in South Carolina and other southern states that follow.”
“Clad in gas masks along with their formal white school uniforms, tens of thousands of students in Hong Kong boycotted the first day of classes Monday as part of a citywide strike following a violent weekend of demonstrations,” the AP reports.
“High school students added gas masks, goggles and hard hats to their traditional uniforms, while university pupils crowded into a square at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Workers also participated in their own rally at a public park, braving strong winds and storm clouds as a typhoon threatened.”
Washington Post: “[Biden’s] resilience has created a challenge for many of the former vice president’s rivals as the summer comes to a close. Their routes to the nomination depend on winning over current Biden supporters, but his staying power has yet to offer a lasting opportunity to chip away.”
“In response, top advisers to many of his rivals have counseled that the only path forward they see is to continue to cast their candidates as younger, more transformative or more energetic change agents, figure out how to maintain their spot on the debate stage, and hope that the mercurial history of Iowa and New Hampshire voters repeats itself, torpedoing Biden’s bid as they have not.”
Dan Balz: “Just four states are likely to determine the outcome in 2020. Each flipped to the Republicans in 2016, but President Trump won each by only a percentage point or less. The four are Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. Many analysts point to Wisconsin as the single state upon which the election could turn.”
“Shifting demographics, the growing urban-rural divide and the gap between white voters with and without college educations have helped to create an electoral map unlike those of the recent past. So too have Trump’s unique profile, messaging and appeal.”
“Hurricane Dorian is forecast to make landfall in Florida without a Senate-confirmed FEMA administrator to oversee relief efforts — and President Trump says he’s OK with that,” Politico reports.
Said Trump: “Acting gives you great flexibility that you don’t have with permanent When I like people, I make them permanent, but I can leave acting for a long period of time.”
President Trump tweeted a link to an op-ed by Sen. Ted Cruz and veteran anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist calling on the administration to index capital gains to inflation.
Vox: “More concerning still, some legal scholars believe that executing this change through the executive branch is illegal, and that congressional action would be necessary to do this — action that, with Democrats in control of the House, will probably never come.”