POLITICO Playbook: TRUMP plans 2018 campaign BLITZ

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SHOT — NBC’S MARK MURRAY (@mmurraypolitics): “New NBC/WSJ poll on whom voters prefer to control Congress: Dems 50%, GOP 39% … 1st time since Sept ‘08 when Dems have hit 50% and been in double digits on this question in the poll”. The poll http://nbcnews.to/2ziMrEX

— WSJ’S JANET HOOK: “At the same time, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating ticked up 3 percentage points in the new survey from October, to 41%, due in part to higher marks from members of his own party. Some 56% in the new poll disapproved of his job performance.” http://on.wsj.com/2kEvxIn

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CHASER — JOSH DAWSEY and MICHAEL SCHERER in WaPo: “After Alabama loss, Trump has ambitious plans to campaign in 2018 midterms”: “Trump’s political aides have met with 116 candidates for office in recent months, according to senior White House officials, seeking to become involved in Senate, House and gubernatorial races — and possibly contested Republican primaries as well.

“The president has told advisers that he wants to travel extensively and hold rallies and that he is looking forward to spending much of 2018 campaigning. He has also told aides that the elections would largely determine what he can get done — and that he expects he would be blamed for losses, such as last week’s humiliating defeat that handed a Senate seat in Alabama to a Democrat for the first time in 25 years.

“‘For the president, this isn’t about adulation and cheering crowds,’ White House political director Bill Stepien said in an interview. ‘This is about electing and reelecting Republicans.’” http://wapo.st/2j76Rrg

— LET’S WAIT AND SEE how many Republicans want the president on the campaign trail with them. In Democratic and Republican polling, voters say that they do not see Trump as the leader of the Republican Party. GOP operatives are hoping it stays that way. They say that their best hope of survival is if the Trump brand stays separate from the GOP brand. There are undoubtedly many Republican districts in which Trump could be helpful.

SPOTTED: Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) on Saturday night at Margaritaville in Key West, Florida. Tuesday was Doug and Louise Jones’ 25th wedding anniversary and they’re in Key West celebrating. Jimmy Buffett sang “Stars Fell on Alabama” for the couple and gave them a shout out. Pic http://bit.ly/2AIwBS027-second video http://bit.ly/2k6iP5A

CHRIS WALLACE TALKS TO DOUG JONES ON “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” — “Democrat Jones extends an olive branch to Republicans,” by Martin Matishak: “Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones on Sunday signaled he’s willing to work on a bipartisan basis with Republicans once he’s sworn into office. ‘I think there’s an opportunity at every turn,’ he said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ before adding such cooperation is a ‘two-way street.’ … Jones, a former U.S. attorney, declined to say if he would be a conservative or moderate Democrat once he arrives on Capitol Hill. ‘I have resisted trying to put labels on myself. People are going to do that left and right,’ he said.

“Jones said he had not studied the GOP’s tax plan that’s poised for passage this week. While he likes the idea of cutting the corporate tax rate, he said he doesn’t ‘buy into the fact’ that the bill will spur economic growth. Jones also tried not to be pinned down on immigration, calling it one of the ‘toughest political footballs’ in Congress. He also urged Moore, who has resisted, to concede the election. ‘It’s time to move on,’ Jones said.” http://politi.co/2AKjBLW

Happy Sunday. TRUMP’S WEEK — MONDAY: The president is speaking about his national security strategy, and meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. TUESDAY: Trump meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. WEDNESDAY: Trump is holding a Cabinet meeting.

SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN? — @FoxNewsSunday: “.@stevenmnuchin1 on possibility of gov’t shutdown: I can’t rule it out two days before Christmas but I don’t see it occurring…we can’t have a government shutdown in front of Christmas.”

WHAT AMERICA IS READING — MONTGOMERY (ALA.) ADVERTISER: “Young Republicans hope party regroups” http://bit.ly/2B1DD8IPALM BEACH POST: “F. Lee Bailey mounts defense — of himself” http://bit.ly/2AJIdV1L.A. TIMES: “GOP tax bill cost estimate keeps rising” http://bit.ly/2BnN27o

WAPO’S PAUL KANE — “How the oldest Senate ever is taking a toll on the business of Washington”: “In November, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, who is 83, was at the helm when the Senate’s massive tax bill came through the Finance Committee. But Hatch also deputized four younger Republicans on the panel to serve as de facto co-chairmen over various parts of the legislation.

“This week, with a compromise bill marching toward final passage in both chambers, the House has to vote first — because a pair of senators, Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), are recuperating from, respectively, non-melanoma skin surgery and the side effects of cancer treatments. Hatch’s advisers say his move demonstrates a keen sense of coalition building, and aides and friends to Cochran, 80, and McCain, 81, contend that their bosses should be back in the Senate before long.

“But here’s something else to consider: All three are exemplars of an institution that has become, by one measure, the oldest Senate ever. Eight octogenarians currently serve, nearly twice as many as ever before, according to records maintained by the Senate Historical Office. Another handful of senators are at least 75.” http://wapo.st/2k7BJZG

!!!! — “The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs: Funded at the request of Harry Reid, the program probed a number of encounters military pilots had with aircraft they believed didn’t operate like anything they had seen before,” by Bryan Bender: “The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, a decade ago quietly set up a multi-million dollar program to investigate what are popularly known as unidentified flying objects—UFOs. … In some cases they maneuvered so unusually and so fast that they seemed to defy the laws of physics, according to multiple sources directly involved in or briefed on the effort and a review of unclassified Defense Department and congressional documents.

“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, whose existence was not classified but operated with the knowledge of an extremely limited number of officials, was the brainchild of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who first secured the appropriation to begin the program in 2009 with the support of the late Senators Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Republican Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), two World War II veterans who were similarly concerned about the potential national security implications.” http://politi.co/2Cqn42C

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: The UAE and the US are partnering to create economic growth and jobs for people in both countries. For eight years in a row, the UAE has been the top market in the Middle East and North Africa for US exports. http://politi.co/2y8BB0m ******

AROUND THE TAX HORN …

— BERNIE BECKER: “Trump’s signature would end 3-decade wait for tax reform”: “Now, the 2017 tax revamp will bring the American tax system more into lockstep with those conservatives’ thinking than perhaps ever before — making the idea that what works for corporate America will work for the country-at-large a central plank of U.S. policy for decades to come, maybe even another generation or more. ‘This tax cut and reform will drive further reforms and reductions for the next 50 years,’ [Grover] Norquist said Friday. …

“‘This is a pretty historical moment for the conservative movement,’ said Stephen Moore, another of those supply-siders, who has over the years worked at the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal editorial page.” http://politi.co/2BwgWJt

— “File Your Taxes on a Postcard? A G.O.P. Promise Marked Undeliverable,” by NYT’s Jim Tankersley: “The Republican tax bill does not pass the postcard test. It leaves nearly every large tax break in place. It creates as many new preferences for special interests as it gets rid of. It will keep corporate accountants busy for years to come. And no taxpayer will ever see the postcard-size tax return that President Trump laid a kiss on in November as Republican leaders launched their tax overhaul effort. This was not the grand simplification of the code that Republicans promised when they set out to eliminate tax breaks and cut the number of tax brackets as they lowered rates.

“As their bill tore through Congress, their ambitions fell to the powerful forces of lobbying and the status quo. Killed tax breaks returned to life. New ones sprung up beside them. A plan for three individual tax brackets became five, and finally eight. … What emerged on Friday, in the final product agreed to by Republican members of a House-Senate conference committee, was a bill that layers new tax complexities upon businesses large and small, and which delivers a larger share of benefits to corporations and the rich than to the middle class.” http://nyti.ms/2AG6FGH

DAN BALZ in WaPo, “On the eve of the tax vote, Republicans place a big bet for 2018”: “The tax bill represents a gamble in part because the public so far has judged it unfavorably. Recent polls show that not even one-third of Americans give the bill positive marks, with a majority opposed. Trump and Republican leaders say the bill provides tax cuts to most families in the middle class, but the public judges it as tipped in the direction of the wealthy. Those numbers are significantly worse than public perceptions of the Affordable Care Act at the time it was passed.” http://wapo.st/2Bzt0JP

— “U.S. Insurers Win ‘Bermuda Loophole’ Fight,” by WSJ’s Leslie Scism and Ryan Tracy: “Big U.S. property-casualty insurers succeeded in closing what they say is a loophole permitting rivals to rack up profits and move jobs to Bermuda, Switzerland and other low-tax locales, according to lobbyists for both sides. The U.S. carriers have spent the past couple months pushing for tougher tax treatment in the Republican tax plan poised for approval in the coming days.” http://on.wsj.com/2BBw8Ff

THE BIG PICTURE — “Wave of misconduct claims reshape 2018 elections,” by Elena Schneider: “The wave of sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill is already beginning to reshape the 2018 election landscape, crushing some campaigns under its pressure but providing breakthrough opportunities for others. Sexual harassment-related scandals have already claimed four House members — Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.), who announced Saturday he would not seek reelection after his own party leadership called for his resignation.

“In Minnesota, the resignation of Democratic Sen. Al Franken has thrown a wrinkle into the 2018 Senate map — now, party strategists must contend with the prospect that his appointed successor, Tina Smith, will receive a competitive challenge when she attempts to win a full term. Members of Congress aren’t the only ones being felled by new revelations. On Friday, a female candidate, Andrea Ramsey, quit her Democratic bid to challenge Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) after news broke that her company settled a sexual harassment suit, even though she denies the allegations.

“Yet the nation’s moment of reckoning on sexual harassment isn’t simply shaking up the upcoming midterm election by forcing candidates and incumbents out of races — it’s also altering the traditional terms of debate. In Florida, where Democrat Mary Barzee Flores is running in a crowded primary to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the former circuit judge focused her first ad on the issue of sexual misconduct in the workplace.” http://politi.co/2AHBHy4

MUELLER WATCH — “Trump transition lawyer accuses Mueller of unlawfully obtaining emails,” by Darren Samuelsohn and Kyle Cheney: “A lawyer for President Donald Trump’s transition team is accusing special counsel Robert Mueller of unlawfully obtaining tens of thousands of private emails during its investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election. Kory Langhofer, an Arizona-based attorney representing Trump for America, spelled out the complaint in a seven-page letter sent Saturday to the main House and Senate oversight committees where he raises potential violations of attorney-client privilege and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful search and seizure.

“Mueller’s office got the records earlier this summer from the General Services Administration, the government agency charged with holding all transition materials, even while it was ‘aware that the GSA did not own or control the records in question,’ Langhofer wrote. The Trump attorney also argued that Mueller’s office has ‘extensively used the materials in question’ during its investigation even though its prosecutors were aware some of the materials were subject to claims of attorney-client privilege and other protections.

“Mueller spokesman Peter Carr defended the special counsel’s work in a statement issued just past midnight on Sunday, several hours after this story first posted. ‘When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,’ he said. A GSA spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.” http://politi.co/2Bxly1Q

— “GOP lawmaker: Top FBI officials will be subpoenaed,” by Kyle Cheney: “A Republican on the House judiciary committee says he’s gotten a commitment from committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to subpoena top officials at the FBI and Justice Department in their ongoing inquiry into claims of bias against President Donald Trump. Republicans have zeroed in on deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, top counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, FBI attorney Lisa Page, former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who reportedly worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled opposition research on Trump in 2016.

“‘Chairman Goodlatte has told us he is going to subpoena those individuals,’ said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in an appearance on Fox News’ ‘Justice with Judge Jeanine.’ Goodlatte’s office declined comment earlier this week when asked if he was considering issuing subpoenas to those agents.” http://politi.co/2yMinOn

BAD NEWS — “Iowa Supreme Court justice blocks Register’s use of court records,” by Des Moines Register’s Clark Kauffman: “An Iowa Supreme Court justice has issued a highly unusual order prohibiting the Des Moines Register from publishing information gleaned from court records. The Register has objected, calling the order an unlawful form of prior restraint that violates the First Amendment … The order … pertains to court records that include information related to Jaysen McCleary, an Iowa-licensed lawyer now living in Montana. … The sealed records, which include ‘mental health, medical and financial information,’ were publicly accessible when the Register obtained them, and neither the news organization nor the reporter was covered by the protective order limiting their disclosure.” http://dmreg.co/2CLRvRK

SUNDAY BEST — GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS speaks to SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TEXAS) on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: STEPHANOPOULOS: “It appears that some of the president’s allies in the Congress are starting to lay the groundwork for him to fire Robert Mueller. What would that mean if the president fired the special counsel.” CORNYN: “I read that the president’s own lawyer says that’s not going to happen. I think that would be a mistake, myself.”

— JAKE TAPPER speaks with TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” about whether Trump will fire Mueller: MNUCHIN: “I haven’t heard the president — I was with the — at dinner last night with the president and vice president. I haven’t heard anything about this, any firing. But we have got to get past this investigation. It’s a giant distraction. Nobody has said that in any way this impacted the outcome of the election.” TAPPER: “But when you say you got to get past it, you think it should run its course?” MNUCHIN: “I think it should be over quickly, since I think there is nothing there. It should be over quickly, and people want to focus on other things.” TAPPER: “But does that include the president firing Mueller, when you say you want it over quickly, or should it be allowed to run its course?” MNUCHIN: “I don’t have any reason to think that the president is going to do that, but that’s obviously up to him.”

— CHUCK TODD speaks with MARC SHORT on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”:

TODD: “Ok, but is the president going to continue to cooperate?” SHORT: “He is continuing to cooperate—” TODD: “Or is he setting the stage—” SHORT: “No, come on, Chuck.” TODD: “For firing Bob Mueller?” SHORT: “No, there’s no conversation—” TODD: “There’s no way he’s going to fire him?” SHORT: “There’s no conversation about that whatsoever in the White House, Chuck.” TODD: “None whatsoever?” SHORT: “You guys keep bringing that up. We have continued to cooperate in every single possible way with that investigation.”

— JOHN DICKERSON talks with SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OKLA.) on CBS’S “FACE THE NATION”: DICKERSON: “But given that Mueller took [the FBI agent] off the investigation, do you think this taints the larger project he’s doing since you know the scope of that larger project?” LANKFORD: “Yeah, it’s very serious to be able to have someone inside. What they’ve got to determine is: Was he directing the investigation one way or the other while he was on the investigation? Is that something they can go back, and repair, and look, and see if there’s any kind of bias that’s in it? Obviously, I don’t think it taints the entire process. But it certainly taints that season of it. And it’s something you should look at with any political investigation that he was on at the time. Again, we want our FBI agents to be neutral and to be non-political. Not very actively engaged politically.”

WHAT MARCO RUBIO IS READING — “As Venezuela Collapses, Children Are Dying of Hunger,” by NYT’s Meridith Kohut and Isayen Herrera in San Casmiro, Venezuela: “[D]eaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition … Parents … go days without eating, shriveling to the weight of children themselves. Women line up at sterilization clinics to avoid having children they can’t feed. Young boys leave home and join street gangs to scavenge for scraps, their bodies bearing the scars of knife fights with competitors. Crowds of adults storm Dumpsters after restaurants close. Babies die because it is hard to find or afford infant formula, even in emergency rooms.” http://nyti.ms/2osuVKL

— “How blue states might save Obamacare’s markets,” by Rachana Pradhan: “The looming demise of Obamacare’s individual mandate is spurring talks in a handful of blue states about enacting their own coverage requirements, as state officials and health care advocates fear repeal will roil their insurance markets. Republicans in Congress are poised to kill off the individual mandate in their sweeping tax overhaul, knocking out one of Obamacare’s most unpopular features — but one that health experts have said is essential to making the law’s insurance marketplaces function.

“Blue state officials, who have been working to protect their insurance markets from the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle the health law, are beginning to grapple with strategies for preserving coverage. Those officials — in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and elsewhere — aren’t ruling out a state-level requirement that residents must obtain health insurance. But even in the most Obamacare-friendly states, trying to implement an individual mandate could be politically risky, particularly in an election year.” http://politi.co/2zibcRr

THE REFORMER – NYT A1, “World’s Most Expensive Home? Another Bauble for a Saudi Prince: A $300 million chateau is one of a string of extravagant purchases for a prince who is cracking down on ill-gotten wealth and preaching fiscal austerity,” by Nick Kulish and Michael Forsythe in Louveciennes, France: “When the Chateau Louis XIV sold for over $300 million two years ago, Fortune magazine called it ‘the world’s most expensive home,’ and Town & Country swooned over its gold-leafed fountain, marble statues and hedged labyrinth set in a 57-acre landscaped park. But for all the lavish details, one fact was missing: the identity of the buyer.

“Now, it turns out that the paper trail leads to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne and the driving force behind a series of bold policies transforming Saudi Arabia and shaking up the Middle East. The 2015 purchase appears to be one of several extravagant acquisitions — including a $500 million yacht and a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting — by a prince who is leading a sweeping crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment by the Saudi elite and preaching fiscal austerity at home. ‘He has tried to build an image of himself, with a fair amount of success, that he is different, that he’s a reformer, at least a social reformer, and that he’s not corrupt,’ said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst and author. ‘And this is a severe blow to that image.’” http://nyti.ms/2zixxhW

MEDIAWATCH – “NBC Made Payment To Staffer After Sexual Harassment Claim Against Chris Matthews,” by the Daily Caller’s Amber Athey: “Two sources familiar with the situation told The Daily Caller that Matthews paid $40,000 to settle with an assistant producer on his show, ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews,’ in 1999 after she accused him of harassment. An MSNBC spokesperson contested that claim to the Caller, saying the company instead paid significantly less as part of a severance package. The woman complained to CNBC executives about Matthews making inappropriate comments and jokes about her while in the company of others. The MSNBC spokesman said that they thoroughly reviewed the situation at the time and that Matthews received a formal reprimand.” http://bit.ly/2AIvdyU

— @amber_athey: “BTW, @MSNBC refused to say whether or not this is the only claim against Matthews.”

— “TV Agent Olivia Metzger Is Parting Ways With The Creative Artists Agency,” by Yashar Ali in HuffPost: “Metzger represents, among others, newly appointed ‘CBS Evening News’ anchor Jeff Glor, ‘Today’ show co-host Hoda Kotb, CNN’s Poppy Harlow, NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker, NBC host Jenna Bush Hager, NBC/MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin and MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle. … Metzger, according to two sources, plans to continue representing clients whether she ends up going to another agency or starting her own firm.” http://bit.ly/2CKXOFd

— Alex Pfeiffer (@PfeifferDC): “Some personal news: After two wonderful years at The Daily Caller, I’m leaving to join Fox News. I’m starting the new year at ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ as an associate producer.”

HOLLYWOODLAND — MAUREEN DOWD in the NYT, “The Grande Dame of Documentary is Leaving Her Home at HBO”: “Sheila Nevins … [is departing] as the high priestess of HBO Documentary Films, where she has for 38 years worked day and night, through weekends and vacations, supervising the production of over 1,200 documentaries, including recent hits such as ‘Going Clear,’ the gutsy exposé of Scientology; ‘Citizenfour,’ the highly praised film about Edward Snowden’s life on the lam; and ‘Bright Lights,’ the poignant story of Ms. Nevins’s late friend Carrie Fisher’s entwined relationship with her mother and next door neighbor, Debbie Reynolds.” http://nyti.ms/2AZ7U8a

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: With trade in aviation, high tech, and defense, the UAE delivers a $19 billion trade surplus for the US. These exports support hundreds of thousands of American jobs. They also help the UAE diversify its economy. By working with the US, the UAE has become a center for innovation and opportunity in the Middle East. http://politi.co/2y8BB0m ******

BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from New York:

— “The Human Cost of the Ghost Economy,” by Melissa Chadburn in Longreads.com: “One altered resume later I joined a temp agency and became … a member of America’s invisible workforce: people who ship goods for big box stores like Wal-Mart or Marshalls, sort recyclables for Waste Management, fulfill online orders for Nike, bottle rum for Bacardi. I’d found my squad, a cadre of screw-ups, felons, floozies, single moms, the differently abled, students, immigrants, the homeless and hungry, the overqualified and under-qualified, all of us ghosted by the traditional marketplace.” http://bit.ly/2Clj7vQ

— “Ads are the New Content,” by Jesse Oxfeld in Traffic Magazine: “An insider’s account of the booming business where ads want to be journalism, sort of.” http://bit.ly/2kyuJV4

— “The Flight 93 Decade,” by Henry Olsen in American Greatness: “The Flight 93 Election assumes that once the cockpit is seized it will remain in control of the party who seized it. In fact, we are the passengers in a plane where the cockpit is under constant assault and moving from one side to the other with such rapidity that the plane itself is being turned and shaken, leaving the passengers increasingly nauseous and unable to leave their seats from the terror.” http://bit.ly/2ohuqmX

— “Freud in the scanner,” by M M Owen in Aeon Magazine: “A revival of interest in the power of introspection and thought has brought Freud’s ideas back into the scientific fold.” http://bit.ly/2BtNOSN

— “Farewell to a Scoundrel,” by Wesley Yang in Tablet Mag: “Meme Wars: What Lorin Stein’s resignation from The Paris Review over sexual misconduct reveals about the true index of male power.” http://bit.ly/2jZPppy (h/t ALDaily.com)

— “#MeToo vs. the Museum,” by the Weekly Standard’s Alice Lloyd: “‘If you are talking about taking down or censoring work because it ‘offends,’ then you have to take almost everything out of the Met,’ [art critic Jerry Saltz] told me … From the pre-Columbian figurine to the contemporary pop ballad, no human output is safe from well-meaning erasure according to an historically unstable standard of decency.” http://tws.io/2CjxEsh

— “The Person in the Ape,” by Ferris Jabr in Lapham’s Quarterly: “We know that apes remember past events and plan for the future; they understand spoken language and communicate with gestures and abstract symbols. They are intelligent, self-aware individuals. The more we accept the deep similarities between humans and other apes, the more pressing it becomes to address the unresolved tension in the sinews of our relationship: whether we need to change our definition of a human — or, more profoundly, what it means to be a person.” http://bit.ly/2BgbLuq

— “The Problem with Muzak,” by Liz Pelly in The Baffler: “The more vanilla the release, the better it works for Spotify. If Spotify is just feeding easy music to everybody, where does the art form go? Is anybody going to be able to push boundaries and break through to a wide audience anymore?” http://bit.ly/2ABQ9HI

— “My Do-It-Yourself Language Immersion, Prison-Style,” by Morgan Godvin in the Marshall Project: “Before arriving, I’d had a deep fear that prison would make me stupid, with its lack of intellectual stimulation. Now I looked at all the non-English speakers and saw an opportunity to learn. Since it was a financial impossibility to finish my bachelor’s degree while incarcerated, I decided becoming fluent in Spanish was in fact the most beneficial thing I could do with my time. I’m now living a richer and more humane existence.” http://bit.ly/2yFCJZF (h/t TheBrowser.com)

— “‘We’ll Deal with the Consequences Later’: The Cajun Navy and the Vigilante Future of Disaster Relief,” by Miriam Markowitz in GQ: “In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, an ad hoc group of Louisianans calling themselves the Cajun Navy took their boats to Texas and started ferrying people to safety. As superstorms rock our coastlines with increasing frequency and underfunded government-relief agencies keep falling short, private citizens are stepping in to save those left behind.” http://bit.ly/2BtPV9b

— “Mimi O’Donnell Reflects on the Loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Devastation of Addiction,” as told to Adam Green in Vogue: “When Phil started using, Freedom Tower was almost finished. I remember walking along the Hudson looking at it, and realizing that our whole relationship spanned the fall of the twin towers on 9/11 to the rise of the new tower in its place. I thought: I’ll make a decision once the building is finished. I felt like I was drowning, and it gave me something to hold on to.” http://bit.ly/2j3Uo7Y

— “The Touch of Madness,” by David Dobbs in Pacific Standard Magazine: “Words started to look strange. She began experiencing ‘inarticulable atmospheric changes’ — alterations of temporality, spatiality, depth perception, kinesthetics. Shimmerings in reality’s fabric. Sidewalks would feel soft and porous. Audio and visual input would fall out of sync, creating a lag between the movement of a speaker’s lips and the words’ arrival at Jones’ ears. Something was off.” http://bit.ly/2BgkEnO (h/t TheBrowser.com)

— “The Smart, the Stupid, and the Catastrophically Scary: An Interview with an Anonymous Data Scientist” — Logic magazine: “‘The rate of progress in AI over the past decade has been astounding. And so, although the popular imagination is always going to be leaps and bounds ahead of what’s realistic, a lot of that is a reflection of the progress that has in fact been made in the past decade. Whether that’s because the actual technology itself is in the golden age and will soon revert back is a good question.’” http://bit.ly/2kzmdVN

— “The Plot to Bomb Garden City, Kansas,” by Jessica Pressler in NYMag: “The town welcomed hundreds of Somali refugees. Then a private militia decided to go ‘ISIS hunting.’” http://nym.ag/2CkCtBh (h/t Longform.org)

— “Ten Long Years of Trying to Make Armie Hammer Happen,” by Anne Helen Petersen in BuzzFeed: “How many second chances does a handsome white male star get?” http://bzfd.it/2CsWJRg

SPOTTED on M Street in Georgetown yesterday: Rob Goldstone, who sent that email to Donald Trump Jr. in the summer of 2016 offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. The WaPo reports (http://wapo.st/2kBTTCk) that he got interviewed on Thursday by congressional investigators. Pic of Goldstone http://bit.ly/2BoU5wL … Steve Bannon speaking on Sunday to the first-ever “J-CPAC” event in Tokyo hosted by the American Conservative Union in a speech titled “China: The Hegemon Rising.” Bannon was asked a question backstage on Russia and he said that is “fake news.” … Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) in first class yesterday on Delta’s 9 a.m. shuttle from DCA to LGA.

OUT AND ABOUT IN PALM BEACH — CHARLIE SPIES last night hosted a birthday dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach for his wife and Republican fundraiser LISA SPIES. Pool report: “Attendees at the private dinner, which featured Mr. Trump’s famous chocolate cake for dessert, included Mar-a-Lago member and Republican donor Ed Phelps and his wife Lin, Ambassador-Designate Bob Pence and his wife Suzy, David and Jenny Drucker, Leah Malone, Morgan Ortagus and Jonathan Weinberger, Ambassador Lisa and Jim Gable, MI Senate candidate John James and his wife Liz, Brian Baker, Rhonda Wilkins, Lauren Kirshner, Ben Carson Jr., Major Garrett and Lara Brown, Adam and Jillian Hasner, Jesse Pannucio, Ann and Neil Corkery, Keith Sonderling, Farah Klein, Samantha Dravis [and] Andi Coronado.”

SPOTTED last night at a Kentucky Derby in December themed party at the Arlington home of Becky Anderson for the 60th birthday party for longtime AARP lobbyist Shannon Russell: Sue and Gary Andres, Cindy Stevens, Missy Edwards, Jill Dowell, Maria Cino, Jayne Victor, Bill Spencer, Ed Gilroy, Tim Day and Caroline Decker.

WEEKEND WEDDING – “Jenna Lowenstein, Emily Norman” – N.Y. Times: “Ms. Lowenstein … 30, is a digital strategy adviser to Democratic organizations and candidates, including the Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York. She served as a digital director of Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and as a vice president for digital at Emily’s List from 2014-15. She graduated from Georgetown. … Ms. Norman, 31, is the vice president of analytics at the Global Strategy Group, a political polling firm in New York. She has previously worked as an elections analyst for the Democratic National Committee in Washington and oversaw constituency analytics for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College and received a master of public policy from Harvard.” With pic http://nyti.ms/2AIGkHXInstapic http://bit.ly/2oxtnPZWedding pic http://bit.ly/2CIR6j0

–SPOTTED: Tim Lim, Teddy Goff, Matt Compton, Christina Reynolds, Jess O’Connell, Rob Flaherty, Adam Connor, Brad Bauman, Brynne Craig, Jackie Bray, Kat Skiles, Katie Dowd, Dennis Cheng, Mike Taylor, Michael Whitney, Jennifer Kinon, Jess and Ross Morales Rocketto, Megan Lubin, Alex Kellner and Dan Scarvalone

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Tom Quinn, partner at Venable and longtime lobbyist, is 8-0. How lobbying has changed: “I am starting a new project called ‘Save the Swamp.’ I think the system works pretty well with the almost unlimited number of special interests having their say. It will always be a bit messy, which is the nature of a democracy in a very diverse country. Most people would agree that lobbying isn’t as much fun after the 2007 Gift Ban and the restrictions on the use of corporate aircraft changed the game – I am not sure this is for the better as some of the prior interactions led to better legislation.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2k6qJM2

BIRTHDAYS: Chris Matthews is 72 … Pope Francis is 81 … Eli Pariser, co-founder of Upworthy and founder of MoveOn … Sarah Doolin, associate director of brand partnerships at American Ballet Theatre (hat tip: Ryan Williams) … Randall Gerard, principal at Cogent Strategies … Bush 43 alum Carol Thompson O’Connell … Elaine Povich … Scott Sadler, strategic comms advisor at the National Counterterrorism Center … Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) is 51 … Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) is 74 (h/t Samantha Bisogno) … Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) is 44 … Noah Rothman, associate editor at Commentary, is 36 … Cyrus Krohn, co-founder and COO at Element Data… Erin Taylor … Jessica Stone, CGTN America correspondent … Carlson Teboh … Valeria Ojeda-Avitia, analyst at PSB … Daniel Ensign, deputy campaign manager for Alec Ross and a Clinton and O’Malley alum, is 27. “He was feted by friends at Ivy and Coney on Saturday night for the Third Annual ‘Ensignpalooza.’” (h/t Matt Corridoni) …

… Kelli Arena, who joined the NSA earlier this year as chief of strategic communications (http://bit.ly/2j7mTS7) and is a former CNN correspondent … Shannon Russell, a lobbyist for AARP, is 6-0 (h/t Doug Andres) … Aryeh Bourkoff is 45 … Kevin Wardally … Sheppie and Mike Abramowitz, mom and son duo (h/t Dan) … Sabrina Rodriguez … Edelman’s Michelle Morgan and Edwena Johnson … Judy Weiss … Ray Rubio is 54 … Maja Suslin … Jeff Cleary … Doug Landry … Taylor Foy … Bob Witeck … Chelsea Manning is 3-0 … Debra Patterson … Clare Gannon … Wisconsin former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is 84 … Bailey Childers … Kellin Lovegren … Sherrie Sabbath … Katie Pakenham (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: The UAE is a major investor in the US. UAE FDI in the US totaled $26 billion in 2016 – in sectors ranging from financial services, to transportation, to consumer products. That means jobs for thousands of Americans and liquidity for capital markets across the country. The UAE and the US are united in prosperity. http://politi.co/2y8BB0m ******

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