Oh wow: Court strikes down North Carolina’s GOP-drawn Congressional map as partisan gerrymander

In a massive victory for Democrats, a federal court hearing a challenge to North Carolina’s Republican-drawn congressional map struck it down on Tuesday evening as a partisan gerrymander designed to benefit the GOP in violation of the constitution. The ramifications of this ruling are enormous: If current district lines are replaced with a nonpartisan map, Democrats could gain anywhere from two to five seats, according to an analysis by Stephen Wolf, as shown at the top of this post.

The case could also give further ammunition to plaintiffs seeking to invalidate gerrymandered maps elsewhere on the same grounds. Republicans will inevitably appeal to the Supreme Court, which is adjudicating two other similar cases, so the outcome may yet change. It’s important to note that the Supreme Court has never before sustained a challenge to a map on the basis that it impermissibly benefits one political party over another, but it recently signaled a new openness toward doing so, so there’s a real chance this ruling could stand. And if new lines are put in place for this year’s midterm elections, that would go a long way toward helping Democrats win back the House.

Trump boasts that he’s a ‘very stable genius’ amid questions over his mental fitness

Should we be worried about this? I think so. The questions are disturbing, yes, but his answer even more so.– shiels

TRUMP SPPECH AT SNAP ON TOOLS

 
 2:00

Trump defends his mental fitness, slams ‘Fire and Fury’ author

At a news conference at Camp David Jan 6., President Trump responded to a question from a reporter about a tweet he posted on his mental state earlier that day. 

 January 6
President Trump lashed out at critics Saturday in defense of his mental fitness for office, calling himself a “very stable genius” in a tweetstorm of boasts.First on Twitter, then at a news conference with Republican leaders at Camp David, Trump defended himself against a new book that cites purported fears from former and current aides that he was unprepared for the presidency, incapable of processing information and uninterested in making difficult decisions.

Citing his success in business and on television, as well as his victory in presidential politics on “my first try,” Trump tweeted that his record “would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!” He suggested that the “Fake News Mainstream Media” are trying to smear him by using the “playbook” on President Ronald Reagan, who some believed suffered from mental deterioration due to age in the latter years of his two terms. Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after leaving office.

During a news conference at the presidential retreat in Maryland, where Trump and GOP leaders were formulating their 2018 agenda, the president denounced the book’s author, New York media writer Michael Wolff, and a high-profile source, former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. Trump, whose personal lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter in an effort to stop publication of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” has also called for tougher libel laws.

“It’s a disgrace that he can do something like this,” said Trump, who has previously threatened to silence news organizations over critical coverage. “Libel laws are very weak in this country. If they were stronger, hopefully, you would not have something like that happen.”

 19:45
Trump’s full Camp David news conference

President Trump spoke about his legislative priorities and answered reporters’ questions at a news conference at Camp David, Md., on Jan. 6. 

Trump’s outburst magnified attention on the book that his aides have derided as “fantasy” and “complete fiction,” but it also seemed to reveal a president who relishes constant conflict as feeling more besieged and isolated. With his approval ratings at historic lows after nearly one year in office, Trump has gone from battling Democrats and foreign leaders to fending off doubts from his closest advisers and even, reportedly, family members.

Wolff, appearing on NBC’s “Today Show” on Friday, said that “100 percent” of Trump’s team, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both White House advisers, doubted the president’s competency and grew more alarmed by his temperament during the first months of his presidency.

How Trump is helping China

CHINA WINS

Image result for maps of china

555 × 433 – maps-of-china.net

 

 

The president undoing himself systematically one day at a time.

View in Browser | Add nytdirect@nytimes.com to your address book.
The New York Times
The New York Times

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt

Op-Ed Columnist

On the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated president almost a year ago, a Chinese military leader named Jin Yinan gave a speech to top Communist Party officials in China. “We repeatedly state that Trump ‘harms China,’” Jin said. “In fact, he has given China a huge gift.”
That gift, Jin explained, was Trump’s planned pullout from the trans-Pacific Partnership, which formally happened three days after Jin’s speech, on Jan. 23. The partnership was a trade deal in which the United States and Pacific countries like Australia, Malaysia and Vietnam had banded together to check the economic rise of China. The likely economic effects of the pact were the subject of intense debate in this country, on both the right and left. In reality, though, the economic effects would never have been as large as either the deal’s boosters or critics argued.
Instead, the most important effect of the deal was geopolitical. The deal was, as the Australian academic Salvatore Babones has said, “primarily a tool for spreading U.S. interests abroad.” Above all, the deal was a response to China’s new global assertiveness.
But Trump said no thanks. And top Chinese officials correctly saw his withdrawal as “a huge gift.”
The story of Jin’s speech to Communist Party leaders comes from an article in the new issue of The New Yorker, by Evan Osnos. The piece is a calm but devastating indictment of Trump’s foreign policy. The canceling of the trade pact, Osnos explains, is merely one of the ways Trump is helping China.
The details include: a World Trade Organization meeting that the Trump administration left early, only to have Chinese officials then hold sway; the easy ways that Chinese officials have manipulated Trump by favoring his family business; and a quotation from the prime minister of Singapore, explaining that other countries now look first to China for international engagement.
“Trump is the biggest strategic opportunity” for China, as one influential foreign-affairs scholar in Beijing tells Osnos.
Some aspects of Trump’s foreign policy, like his campaign against ISIS, have worked better than expected so far. Yet it would be a big mistake to miss the larger picture. While prattling on about “America first,” Trump is actually doing grave damage to American interests around the world. No country benefits more from that damage than China, the most significant strategic challenger to the United States.
China’s leaders are well aware of the gift they have received.
I recommend reading all of Osnos’s article. It’s off to an early lead as 2018’s most important piece of journalism.
Programming note. Yesterday marked only the fifth time in the last 120 years that The New York Times has changed publishers. Our new publisher is A.G. Sulzberger, and for more on him and the future of The Times, you can read:
• this 2017 story from Wired magazine;
• the Innovation Report of 2014, which he oversaw;
• two follow-up reports that were heavily influenced by that report (one from 2015 on business strategy and one from 2017 on newsroom strategy).
Or you can hear from Sulzberger himself. He has written a piece on the editorial page today:
“There was a reason freedom of speech and freedom of the press were placed first among our essential rights,” he writes. “Our founders understood that the free exchange of ideas and the ability to hold power to account were prerequisites for a successful democracy. But a dangerous confluence of forces is threatening the press’s central role in helping people understand and engage with the world around them.”
The full Opinion report from The Times follows

North Korean leader says he has ‘nuclear button’ but won’t use it unless threatened

 from Washington Post Beijing correspondent Simon Denver today 1/1/18
 Winds of Change? Your Move, Mr. Trump. Analysis to follow.

South Koreans watch a news broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s annual New Year’s Day speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul. (Lee Jin-man/AP)
 January 1 at 3:24 AM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted in an annual New Year’s Day speech Monday that he had a nuclear button on his desk and that the entire United States was within range of his weapons — but he also vowed not to attack unless threatened.

Kim promised to focus this year on producing nuclear warheads and missiles for operational deployment. But he also struck a conciliatory note, opening the door to dialogue with South Korea and saying he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics to be held in his southern neighbor in February.

“The United States can never fight a war against me and our state,” he said in the nationally televised speech. “It should properly know that the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office, and this is just a reality, not a threat.”

But Kim also said that North Korea was a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power, and would not use its nuclear weapons unless “hostile aggression forces” encroach on its sovereignty or interests.

“This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment,” Kim said. “These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”

 1:51
Experts say North Korea’s latest ICBM is a big step for their missile program

North Korea’s rapid advancement of its ICBM program. 

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and launched its most high-tech intercontinental ballistic missile in November, ignoring international condemnation and steadily tightening sanctions.

In typically bellicose language, it declared the latest round of United Nations sanctions imposed last month an “act of war,” and Kim said his country had achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces.

North Korea’s nuclear capabilities do not yet match Kim’s boasts, experts say, since it is far from clear it could successfully deliver a nuclear weapon on one of its missiles. Yet there is little doubt its capabilities have advanced significantly in the past year.

But Kim, dressed in a Western-style gray suit and tie, also offered a potential olive branch to Seoul, saying it is imperative to lower military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and improve ties with the South.

He said that the path to dialogue was open and that he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeong­chang, South Korea.

“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the Games will be a success,” he said. “Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility.”

South Korea has been trying to reassure the rest of the world that the Olympics will be safe despite the nuclear tensions, and President Moon Jae-in has said North Korea’s participation would ensure their safety. He also proposed last month that Seoul and Washington postpone annual joint military drills until after the Olympics, and he generally takes a less-confrontational approach to relations with the North than his predecessor, Park Geun-hye.

John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, said Kim’s message to Seoul was “more promising” than he had anticipated, addressing in a specific and actionable way South Korea’s desire to make the Games a success.

“That should give hope to those in the South who are trying to get something going and open a channel at least,” he said.

The idea of improving relations between the two Koreas is one that is frequently spoken about but seldom achieved, and Kim’s warmer words could also be seen as an attempt to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

While Kim’s words were more combative toward the United States, he also refrained from a personal attack on President Trump, after the two men engaged in several rounds of mutual name-calling in 2017, Delury noted.

When asked about North Korea’s nuclear claims Sunday night, Trump said only, “We’ll see, we’ll see.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Kim’s claims about his country’s nuclear capability underscored that there was no viable “military solution” to denuclearizing North Korea and that sanctions alone would not persuade Pyongyang to halt or reverse its nuclear buildup.

“To avoid a nuclear conflict and the full-scale deployment of an operational North Korean strategic deterrent force, U.S. leaders, in concert with South Korea, should redouble efforts to engage North Korea in direct talks and cease any further explicit or implicit threats of military action against the North,” he said in an email.

“The upcoming Olympics provide an important opportunity to break the ice and to begin discussions with the North Koreans on mutual steps that reduce the chances of miscalculation and war,” he added.

Kansas’s ravaged economy a cautionary tale as Trump plans huge tax cuts for rich

Image result for KANSAS MAP TRUMP 2016

Take a look at this!

 

Kansas slashed taxes at the top to try to spur growth – but the plan crippled the state’s finances and proved disastrous for its Republican governor

by  in Topeka, Kansas

 
 

 

IDonald Trump about to turn America into Kansas? It’s a question some worried people who live in the state are asking as the Republican party pushes through the biggest tax overhaul in a generation – an overhaul that, they claim, bears an uncanny resemblance to a tax plan that left their midwestern home in disarray.

After a failed economic experiment meant to boost economic growth blew a holein the Kansas budget as big as a prairie sky (a $350m deficit in the current fiscal year and nearly $600m in the next) state jobs and services have been slashed.

Prison guards are sharing stab vests at the El Dorado maximum security prison in southern Kansas. At the end of a shift, the sweat-soaked vests, worn all day in a facility without air conditioning, are passed to the next person by guards, many of whom are coming off 12- or 16-hour shifts.

Jail cells designed to hold one inmate are housing three or four at Ellsworth correctional facility. Riots have broken out at other prisons. The family of one guard who recently killed himself told union reps stress and over-work were to blame.

Next year, the state faces a school shutdown after the supreme court found its educational spending was unconstitutionally low. Some of those schools have already had to shorten the school year in order to save cash.

To make ends meet, money that was earmarked for roads has been diverted to the general fund. A state that used to maintain 1,200 miles of road a year is now repairing 200 miles a year. Even in the capital, Topeka, potholes are everywhere.

The crisis follows the 2012 passage of a tax plan by Kansas governor Sam Brownback that he dubbed “the march to zero”.

Individual state income tax rates dropped from 6.4% to 4.9% – with the intention of getting rid of them altogether eventually. Taxes were eliminated on so-called pass through entities – businesses where taxes are collected at the rate of the business owner and not at the corporate rate. The plan would provide a “shot of adrenaline” to the Kansas economy, Brownback claimed.

Trump Approval Dips in Every State,

 Though Deep Pockets of Support Remain

 TRUMP SPPECH AT SNAP ON TOOLS

FROM CAMERON EASLEY AS REPORTED BY EIN NEWS SERVICE; MY ANALYSIS TO FOLLOW

SPECIAL REPORT

 Though Deep Pockets of Support Remain

A comprehensive survey of more than 470,000 Americans finds Trump’s approval has fallen in every state since taking office

Morning Consult illustration / Getty Images
  • A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapprove of the president’s job performance.
  • Trump retains support from a majority of voters in 12 states ranging from the Mountain States to the South.

Fewer than nine months into President Donald Trump’s White House tenure, a Morning Consult survey in all 50 states indicates that voters have grown bearish on his performance in office.

Trump has failed to improve his standing among the public anywhere — including the states he won handily as the Republican nominee during the 2016 presidential election, according to the online survey, which was based on interviews of 472,032 registered voters across each state and Washington, D.C., from Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration to Sept. 26.

Trump’s Net Approval in All 50 StatesUse the slider to track how Trump’s approval changed month over month-50050Net Approval (approval minus disapproval)

2%

OREGON(Net Approval)
JAN

The negative swings in net approval ranged from as high as 30 percentage points in solidly blue Illinois and New York to as low as 11 points in red Louisiana. But in many of the states Trump easily carried last year — such as Tennessee (-23 percentage points), Mississippi (-21 points), Kentucky (-20 points), Kansas (-19 points) and Indiana (-17 points) — voters have soured on the president in 2017.

A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapproved of the president’s job performance in September, including those residing in Upper Midwest states with large Electoral College hauls that were critical to Trump’s victory over 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and some of which are home to some of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats of the 2018 election cycle. Fifty-five percent of respondents in Michigan said they disapproved of Trump, as did 53 percent in Wisconsin and Iowa and 51 percent in Pennsylvania.

Fifty-one percent of voters in Nevada and Arizona, where the Senate GOP’s most vulnerable members are up for re-election next year, also disapproved of Trump’s handling of the presidency.

RELATED: Charlottesville Violence Impacts Virginia Voters’ Views of Trump

“It’s always hard, though not impossible, for the president’s party to maintain or even gain ground in an election,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said in a Sept. 21 interview. He cited solid approval numbers in recent years for former Presidents Bill Clinton in 1998 and George W. Bush in 2002, when their parties bucked midterm trends.

But, Kondik said, those types of gains are made when the president has favorable numbers.

“Again, these presidents were all popular,” Kondik said. “Trump is not right now, and his weakened standing could threaten Republican chances to defeat Democratic Senate incumbents in dark red states.”

In three other states Trump carried during the presidential election — Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — voters were practically split on his job performance, with an even or nearly even net rating.

The president retained support from a majority of voters in a dozen states in September, all of which he carried in 2016. Trump is most popular in Wyoming, where 60 percent of Cowboy State constituents said they approved of his job performance as of September, followed by West Virginia, where 59 percent of Mountain State voters approved. Trump’s approval in the Deep South is highest in Alabama, at 59 percent, while 57 percent of Louisianans, 54 percent of Arkansans, 53 percent of Tennesseans and 51 percent of South Carolinians are still in his corner.

RELATED: West Virginia Voters Becoming More Critical of Trump; Support in Maryland Falls to 33%

Looking at the bigger picture, Trump’s national net rating was down 19 points from January, when 49 percent of voters approved of him and 39 percent disapproved. In September, 43 percent of respondents approved of Trump while 52 percent disapproved.

The president enjoyed a relative honeymoon period during his first three months in office, but the decline in his support was consistent into August before his numbers bounced back slightly in September amid bipartisan deals with top congressional Democrats on extending the debt ceiling and government funding. From April to August, the dips tracked with a number of controversies involving the investigation into whether any of Trump’s campaign associates colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election — particularly the circumstances surrounding his decision to fire then-Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey in early May — and his reaction to the violent events in Charlottesville, Va. Congressional Republicans’ at-times chaotic and secretive efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health law, also correlated with a loss of confidence in the president.

Democrats and independents accounted for much of the downward spiral: Trump’s net approval among Democrats is down 25 points (from -46 to -71) since taking office and he’s down 18 points among independents (from even to -18). Eighty-four percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents said they disapproved of Trump as of September. Republican voters have also taken a dimmer view of Trump’s job performance as the months rolled on: His net approval rating among GOP voters has dropped 9 points, although 81 percent still backed him in September.

Perhaps more concerning for Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill ahead of the 2018 midterms — which typically serve as referendums on the presidency — is a growing enthusiasm gap among GOP voters and dissenting partisans.

From January to September, the share of Republicans who strongly approve of Trump declined by 10 points, from 53 percent to 43 percent. Meanwhile, the intensity of disapproval among Democrats and independents has risen. Seventy-one percent of Democrats said they strongly disapproved of Trump in September, up 16 points from January, and among independents, there was an 11-point bump in strong disapproval, from 26 percent to 37 percent.

Those figures may encourage the Democratic Party, which is hoping to harness that energy — and a lack thereof for Washington’s ruling party — to ride a wave similar to the one that gave Republicans control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

Nonpartisan political handicapper and former Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg said in a Sept. 25 interview that while the growing enthusiasm gap doesn’t guarantee a wave election, “the potential drop-off in Republican turnout, along with independents behaving like Democrats in the midterm elections, create a significant risk.”

However, that risk is minimized in the Senate, where Democrats are defending 25 seats and Republicans are trying to hold just eight — and “even in the House, you have so few competitive races,” Rothenberg said.

The more immediate problem for Trump, according to Rothenberg, is that his declining numbers will reduce his influence with Republicans on Capitol Hill, whom he’ll need to help secure legislative victories.

“He wants to have clout, and to the extent that he is deemed to be a drag — an albatross — on Republicans running around the country, it just lessens his influence on the Hill,” he said

A DIFFERENT SOLUTION TO THE”GUNS USA” DEBATES

LAS VEGAS GUNS ONION
Hmm, maybe we should try “2nd Amendment” “buttressing” with Propping Up “bump-start”, and ADDING, automatics, silencers, bazookas, and grenades to “open carry” for a 90 month trial (for “home protection, of course”).
I’m all for protecting home-locked-up hunting guns with safety devices and other enhancements., but maybe if we went in the Other direction for 3 months we could get a Real spectacular that would return the NRA to the sane organization it once was. A terrible price to pay but it wouldn’t take long for the 500 to trigger legislation that would eliminate some of the 12,000 deaths by gun each year (and that’s down 40% from 1995).
Maybe if FIVE HUNDRED people were lost, we’d take a second look at Australia and sensible gun policy. As with so much, we are becoming an international freak-show (how many “are hearts go out to…. and to our brave first “responders”) are we going to go though.
Hello!–it’s not just a mental health problem Or a flood of guns, some of which were illegal until fairly recently (I.e.. banned by federal law). IT’S BOTH.

A Second Korean War Could Quickly Spread Across All of Asia

Not sure I agree with this yet but it’s a chilling scenario.

Brendan Scott

 and 

Adrian Leung
August 21, 2017, 5:00 PM EDT August 22, 2017, 12:51 AM EDT
  • Northeast Asia’s geography reveals the peril of any strike
  • Great powers risk being drawn into escalating conflict
0:140:30
Burns Says War With North Korea Is Not Imminent

Nick Burns, professor at Harvard Kennedy School, discusses Trump administration dealings with geopolitical events. He speaks with Bloomberg’s David Westin on ‘Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas.’ (Source: Bloomberg)

Follow @bpolitics for all the latest news, and sign up for our daily Balance of Power newsletter.

A recent survey commissioned by the New York Times found that people who could find North Korea on a map were more likely to favor talks over military action. A glance at North Asia’s geography explains why.

More than six decades after the Korean War ended without a peace treaty, the peninsula remains bisected in a perpetual stalemate, with the U.S.-backed South Korean military lined up against more than a million North Korean troops. While tensions have occasionally flared — such as after Kim Jong Un’s weapons tests or threats of “merciless revenge” over American-led military exercises that began Monday — the two sides have so far staved off another devastating conflict.

The 250-kilometer (160-mile) border defined in a 1953 armistice lays bare one obvious peril of any confrontation: The demilitarized zone sits on the doorstep of the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.

North Korea has spent decades concealing hundreds of artillery batteries along the frontier that could wreak havoc in the southern capital, according to Joseph Bermudez, an analyst for the 38 North website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Those weapons could kill thousands of people and damage scores of factories in the time it took the U.S. to project “fire and fury” across the border, as President Donald Trump has warned.

“If all of a sudden artillery rounds started plopping down in the middle of the city, hitting those high-rises, there would be panic like you would not believe,” Bermudez said. “Not only are people killed by direct explosion, they’re killed by all the debris, and they’re killed by accident. You don’t need much artillery to do that.”

After an initial exchange of fire, the danger could quickly engulf the rest of South Korea and neighboring Japan, countries that have been American allies since World War II. More than 80,000 troops are based across the two countries and the U.S. territory of Guam, which would provide key staging areas for any American-led attack.

Those U.S. bases were within reach of Kim’s bombs long before his first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4. Even if Kim still lacks the capacity to outfit those missiles with miniaturized nuclear warheads, he could cause plenty of damage with conventional and chemical weapons.

Kim would probably seek to maximize his advantage against more powerful foes by striking softer civilian targets in places like the greater Tokyo area, which is home to almost 40 million people. At the same time, North Koreans might look to escape the allied onslaught by flooding across the Yalu River to China. The region might also face environmental threats should the U.S. strike Kim’s heavy-water reactor north of the capital Pyongyang, scattering radioactive debris into the atmosphere and groundwater.

Mao Zedong’s decision to back China’s communist neighbors in North Korea was a key reason the U.S.-led United Nations forces were never able to achieve a decisive victory in the Korean War. China’s concern then — that a unified Korea could provide a springboard for attacks on its own territory — remains largely unchanged. And the world’s most populous country would be hard-pressed to remain on the sidelines if a full-fledged conflict erupted on its border.

Unlike his predecessor, Chinese President Xi Jinping commands a nuclear power with one of the world’s most advanced navies and air forces. Should China join a second Korean conflict, that firepower would make it harder for Trump to ensure the safety of the U.S. homeland — much less its bases and allies across Asia.

And don’t forget Russia, which shares borders with China, Japan and North Korea. Russian President Vladimir Putin is already challenging the U.S. in hotspots around the world.

The U.S. is constantly engaging with China and Russia to explain what it would do in a conflict to minimize the chance of an escalation, Bermudez said.

“It’s certainly possible to prevent superpower escalation,” he said. “Communication is the key here.”

Recess just started for Congress, and it’s not going to be much fun for Republicans

WHOOPS!

PowerPost

Recess just started for Congress, and it’s not going to be much fun for Republicans

 August 3
The Senate left town for the rest of the summer Thursday, bringing a historically unproductive period of governance to a close for Republicans, who failed to produce any major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the White House.

The Affordable Care Act they vowed to undo stands untouched. The sweeping tax overhaul they pledged has not materialized. A worsening relationship between President Trump and congressional Republicans threatens to create new roadblocks in September, when a looming funding crisis could shut down the government.

By their own accounts, Republicans have failed to enact the ambitious agenda they embarked upon when Trump and the GOP majorities swept into power in January. The president has fallen well short of the legislative pace his two predecessors set in their first six months on the job.

The lack of a signature accomplishment Republican lawmakers can highlight at home this month has given rise to a new level of finger-pointing and soul-searching in a party that stood triumphant eight months ago after winning back full control of the federal government.

“I think there’s a level of frustration,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in an interview. “It’s more like a football team that knows that it can be good but is fumbling and committing too many boneheaded errors.”

On Thursday, Trump took another parting shot at lawmakers for failing to pass a health-care bill. “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” he tweeted, a day after he grudgingly signed an international sanctions bill that the Senate passed 98 to 2.

The Senate conducted a flurry of business on what was effectively its final workday of the summer, confirming dozens of executive-branch nominees to the State Department, the Treasury Department and other agencies. In addition, two bipartisan pairs of senators unveiled legislation to prevent Trump from firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller IIIwithout cause, and a group of Republican senators released a border security plan.

But as they wrapped up their work this week, Republican senators were eager to turn the page on the sharp political and policy disagreements and constant White House chaos that stalled their endeavors.

“I think we can spend time thinking about what didn’t happen,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “[But] I don’t have enough hours in my day to do that. I’m just focused on what we’re going to be doing going forward.”

Many GOP lawmakers are still numb from last week’s failure to repeal and replace the ACA. While the House had earlier worked through painful disagreements and false starts to pass a health-care bill — and cheered with the president in a Rose Garden ceremony afterward — the Senate failed in a dramatic early-morning vote last Friday.

The breakdown of the effort to fulfill a seven-year promise left a particularly bitter taste in the mouths of Republicans departing from both sides of the Capitol. Some blamed Trump, saying he did not sell the plan aggressively enough, or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for failing to deliver. Others were critical of Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who were adamant in their opposition to the health-care proposals that McConnell put together in secret. The two joined with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to kill a last-ditch bill to keep talks alive.

 Play Video 2:49
The Fact Checker’s guide to the debt ceiling
With a deadline of Sept. 29 looming and Congress nearing their summer recess, the debt ceiling is primed to be a big issue when they return. Here’s what you need to know. (Video: Meg Kelly/Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

“We had three chairmen who went rogue on the Republican caucus and cost us this vote,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a Trump ally. Of the failed-health-care effort, he said: “That’s a problem. We spent a lot of energy on that. And we’re not done yet.”

Now, there is a tension about the way forward. Trump and some conservatives have said they are determined to keep prioritizing the repeal-and-replace effort. But Senate Republican leaders have moved on to a tax overhaul, the next big GOP target, with some planning more-modest fixes to the ACA on the side.

The tax effort, which lawmakers hope to dive deep into next month, could prove to be another tricky venture. Republicans must resolve intraparty disagreements and juggle other pressing deadlines as they pursue a broad overhaul.

McConnell is especially proud of confirming Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a feat widely hailed in the Republican Party. Congress also passed a slate of regulatory changes under the Congressional Review Act, rolling back Obama-era rules.

But when it comes to the core policy issues they campaigned on, Republicans foundered.

“I think we’ve had one of the busier legislative years,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). “We just have not had a successful year as it relates to the large items.”

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