TRUMP TO HOUSTON as soon as possible — TRUMP knocks Claire McCaskill by initial only — SUNDAY BEST: Tillerson: the president speaks for himself on Charlottesville — B’DAY: Danielle Weisberg

Good Sunday morning. TRUMP SAYS HE’S GOING TO TEXAS — @realDonaldTrump at 8:59 a.m.: “I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety.”

— THE KEY PHRASE: “As soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption.” The situation in Houston is very bad, and a presidential visit might take some time. We hear this week is a possibility.

Story Continued Below

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS asks TEXAS GOV. GREG ABBOTT on ABC’S “THIS WEEK” about a Trump visit: STEPHANOPOULOS: “The White House has said the president is expecting to visit Texas this week. Does that make sense right now? And will that is averting resources away from the relief effort?” ABBOTT: “Well, it depends. As you know, we had a hurricane hit around the Corpus Christi area, that is now moving northeast and is over closer to the Houston area. And it depends on where he goes. We are already, for example, involved in a cleanup process in Corpus Christi.

“If the president were to visit there, it wouldn’t hinder any efforts. We’ll just have to wait and see where the storm goes, understanding that this entire storm has been very unpredictable in its movement. And I couldn’t tell you right now where it will be in two days.”

THE WHIPLASH PRESIDENCY — JUST THIS MORNING: Boasting about the government’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Mild railing on Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. Promising a wall with Mexico. Threatening to pull out of NAFTA.

TRUMP’S SUNDAY MORNING — @realDonald Trump at 8:25 a.m.: “Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground.” … at 8:04 a.m.: “Great coordination between agencies at all levels of government. Continuing rains and flash floods are being dealt with. Thousands rescued.” … at 9:15 a.m.: “I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in ‘16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!” …

… at 9:25 a.m.: “Wow – Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood! We have an all out effort going, and going well!” … at 9:44 a.m.: “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.” … at 10:31 a.m.: “Going to a Cabinet Meeting (tele-conference) at 11:00 A.M. on #Harvey. Even experts have said they’ve never seen one like this!” … at 10:39 a.m.: “Major rescue operations underway!”

— TRUMP’S TAX ROADSHOW. Trump is going to Missouri to discuss tax reform this week. Yes, Sen. Claire McCaskill is up for reelection in 2018. This will be Trump’s most recent foray into a red state Democrat’s home turf. It could be instructive for how Trump will go on the offensive for the midterms — McCaskill’s seat is a huge target for Senate Republicans. While Trump is there to talk taxes, most expect he will also veer away from pushing a rewrite of the tax code. McCaskill, like most Democrats, is probably not gettable if Republicans go it alone on tax reform. If Trump’s tax roadshow is going to be an extended riff on how Democrats are obstructionists, it won’t help Trump get 218 votes in the House or 50 votes in the Senate.

HOUSTON SLAMMED — “Tropical Storm Harvey brings worst-ever flooding to Houston,” by the Houston Chronicle’s Susan Carroll, Dug Begley, Mark Collette, and St. John Barned Smith: “Tropical Storm Harvey officially became Houston’s worst storm on record overnight, dumping heavy rains across the city and overflowed bayous, leaving swaths of the city submerged in floodwater.

“‘It’s catastrophic, unprecedented, epic — whatever adjective you want to use,’ said Patrick Blood, a NWS meteorologist. ‘It’s pretty horrible right now.’ City officials tweeted early Sunday morning that the 911 system was at capacity, urging people to shelter in place if they can. ‘Only call if in imminent danger.’ On Twitter, people begged for help. ‘Parents and 4 children need rescuing!’ someone tweeted from the I-45 and Edgebrook area. ‘Blowing up mattress for last case scenario.’ The unconfirmed death toll by the National Weather Service reached five, but authorities expected that to climb as the waters recede. …

“In Harris County, the heaviest rainfall over the past 12 hours were around Webster, where the county flood control gauge on the Galveston County line registered 20.2 inches since 7 p.m. Blood said the computer models show no signs of the rain letting up soon. ‘Harvey is not going to move much over the next few days,’ he said.” http://bit.ly/2gfamOq

–HOUSTON CHRONICLE A1: “STATE OF DESTRUCTION” http://bit.ly/2vt7JuY

DEPT OF TAX REFORM IS HARD — WSJ: “Large Companies Oppose Idea for Taxing Foreign Profits: Congressional Republicans are weighing minimum tax, but alliance warns of unintended consequences,” by Rich Rubin: “Congressional Republicans are trying to write new rules for taxing foreign profits of U.S. corporations, and a group of large, influential companies is warning against one prominent option.

“Under current law, companies owe the full 35% corporate-tax rate on their worldwide earnings and have to pay it on any profits they bring back to the U.S. That system encourages companies to book profits overseas and leave them there. The issue is often a flashpoint in debates over changing the tax code. Republicans want to lower the corporate-tax rate and let companies bring future global profits home without paying U.S. taxes on top of foreign taxes. They are searching for a way to do that without giving companies an incentive to move more operations and profits to countries with far lower taxes.

“One alternative Republicans are considering is a minimum tax on those profits. But such a tax would have ‘unintended and adverse consequences,’ the business group, which includes companies such as Eli Lilly & Co., United Technologies Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., told top lawmakers this month in a previously undisclosed policy paper.” http://on.wsj.com/2w8Yym9

JOE BIDEN in The Atlantic on Charlottesville: “‘We Are Living Through a Battle for the Soul of This Nation’”: “The giant forward steps we have taken in recent years on civil liberties and civil rights and human rights are being met by a ferocious pushback from the oldest and darkest forces in America. Are we really surprised they rose up? Are we really surprised they lashed back? Did we really think they would be extinguished with a whimper rather than a fight? …

“Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate. We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support. This is a moment for this nation to declare what the president can’t with any clarity, consistency, or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America. Hatred of blacks, Jews, immigrants—all who are seen as ‘the other’—won’t be accepted or tolerated or given safe harbor anywhere in this nation.” http://theatln.tc/2xnwfPH

CHRIS WALLACE speaking with SECRETARY OF STATE REX TILLERSON on FOX’S “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: TILLERSON: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.” WALLACE: “And the President’s values?” TILLERSON: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.” WALLACE: “Are you separating yourself from that sir?” TILLERSON: “I have spoken. I have made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”

****** A message from Chevron: We’re piloting a program that uses drones to keep an eye on Chevron wells, tanks, and pipelines—all to keep DOERS and what they’re doin’ safer. Watch the video: http://politi.co/2vLsVyX ******

DEPT. OF RULE OF LAW — “Trump asked Sessions about closing case against Arpaio, an ally since ‘birtherism,’” by WaPo’s Phil Rucker and Ellen Nakashima: “As Joseph Arpaio’s federal case headed toward trial this past spring, President Trump wanted to act to help the former Arizona county sheriff who had become a campaign-trail companion and a partner in their crusade against illegal immigration. The president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation.

“After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency. So the president waited, all the while planning to issue a pardon if Arpaio was found in contempt of court for defying a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people merely because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. Trump was, in the words of one associate, ‘gung-ho about it.’” http://wapo.st/2vzF9Yi

NYT’S ADAM LIPTAK: “Why Trump’s Pardon of Arpaio Follows Law, Yet Challenges It”: “President Trump’s decision to pardon Joe Arpaio was characteristically unconventional. It came late on a Friday night as a hurricane bore down on Texas. It concerned a crime some said was particularly ill-suited to clemency, and it was not the product of the care and deliberation that have informed pardons by other presidents. But it was almost certainly lawful. The Constitution gives presidents extremely broad power to grant pardons.

“Last month, a federal judge found Mr. Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff, guilty of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining immigrants based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally. The order had been issued in a lawsuit that accused the sheriff’s office of violating the Constitution by using racial profiling to jail Latinos. Mr. Arpaio had faced a sentence of up to six months in jail.

“Mr. Trump thus used his constitutional power to block a federal judge’s effort to enforce the Constitution. Legal experts said they found this to be the most troubling aspect of the pardon, given that it excused the lawlessness of an official who had sworn to defend the constitutional structure.” http://nyti.ms/2vsI5Xm

@MeetThePress: “On political pardons, like Arpaio, Gov @JohnKasich: ‘I wouldn’t have done it this way. It’s out of bounds.’ #MTP”. Video http://nbcnews.to/2vtfmSh

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN’S OFFICE: “The speaker does not agree with this decision. Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

— BREITBART hits its favorite target: “Paul Ryan Throws in with Leftists to Attack President Trump’s Pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio” http://bit.ly/2wfHidp

GORKA SPEAKS — “EXCLUSIVE– ‘Like the Last Scene of Star Wars’: Sebastian Gorka Compares Battle Against Globalist Cabal to Rebel Alliance Fighting Evil Empire,” by Breitbart’s Matt Boyle: “‘We are winning and we will continue to do so,’ Gorka said. ‘With Steve back at the helm, it’s like the last scene from Star Wars. Do you remember what Obi Wan Kenobi said to Darth [Vader]? ‘If you strike me down, I will be more powerful than you can ever imagine.’ The left thinks they’re winning. They have no idea what’s coming around the corner, and it’s going to be fun, Matt. You know it.’” http://bit.ly/2ggxJH7

— THE LEFT SHOULDN’T WORRY. It’s the institutional right that should worry.

ON THE WORLD STAGE — “Merkel has no regrets over refugee policy despite political cost,” by Reuters’ Erik Kirschbaum in Berlin: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she has no regrets about her 2015 decision to open the country’s borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees and added she will not be deterred from campaigning by angry hecklers. In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, Merkel denied she had made any mistakes with her open-door policy even though the arrival of a million refugees over the last two years from Syria and Iraq opened deep rifts in her conservative party and depressed its support. …

“‘I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,’ Merkel said. ‘It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint.’ ‘Those kinds of extraordinary situations happen every once in a while in a country’s history,’ she added. ‘The head of government has to act and I did.’” http://reut.rs/2w98qfX

ADELSON’S NEWSPAPER — ISRAEL HAYOM: “In effort to revive peace talks, US asks PA to halt diplomatic offensive against Israel”: http://bit.ly/2vAlpnr

MELANIA WATCH — “First lady appears to borrow from Michelle Obama’s playbook,” by AP’s Darlene Superville: “Bare arms and a belted waist, a White House vegetable garden and parents in the residence: Melania Trump is borrowing pages from Michelle Obama’s playbook. From public policy to high fashion to family ties, Mrs. Trump is keeping alive parts of the former first lady’s legacy even as President Donald Trump’s administration alters other aspects. Mrs. Obama made it acceptable for first ladies to shun the confining, jewel-toned suits that her predecessors wore like uniforms, and her successor is embracing that same free-wheeling fashion sense.

“During President Trump’s first overseas trip in late May, the current first lady stepped off of Air Force One in Saudi Arabia wearing a long-sleeved, black jumpsuit accented with a wide, gold belt. A former model, Mrs. Trump has worn a number of sleeveless and belted outfits since, almost always paired with towering heels. She has kept Mrs. Obama’s vegetable garden, and shown interest in women’s empowerment, military families and children’s issues. Mrs. Obama championed all as first lady. But where Mrs. Obama frequently hosted public events in the garden to encourage healthy eating, Mrs. Trump has yet to hold an activity there.” http://bit.ly/2xDDGl9

SUNDAY BEST … MAJOR GARRETT speaks with TEXAS GOV. GREG ABBOTT on CBS’ “FACE THE NATION”: GARRETT: “After Katrina the U.S. military came in and brought substantial logistics supply movement and order. Do you foresee any circumstance, governor, where you might request that kind of effort to assist you?” ABBOTT: “We’ll have to wait and see. The collaboration of the professionals in Houston and Harris County combined with the assets the state is providing have it covered for now. We’ll have to see where it goes from here. There are different weather predictions. One is that this storm could hover over the Houston area for a couple of days. If so, this could get even worse. But we will take it step by step.”

JAKE TAPPER speaks with FEMA DIRECTOR BROCK LONG on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION”: TAPPER: “The Trump administration is, of course, facing this hurricane with many vacancies in a number of important positions. We’re missing a permanent secretary of homeland security right now. Two deputy director nominees at FEMA still await confirmation, as you well know. There has not been a nomination for anyone to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The National Hurricane Center is currently searching for a director. Is it going to be OK, even with all these vacancies?

LONG: “Yes. You know what? I don’t even have time to worry about it right now. But what I have seen inside my agency is, I have got some of the most dedicated people in the entire federal government, great lines of communications with the president. He’s extremely concerned, incredibly engaged.

“Everything is working through. And just because there’s not a leader in some of these areas, you have got some dedicated, highly knowledgeable, experienced work force in each one of these agencies, and they know this mission. And we’re putting it down and we’re there. We’re leaning forward, and we’re going to continue to support the state and local governments. I have no concern. We are doing our job.”

— TILLERSON to CHRIS WALLACE on AFGHANISTAN: “I think the president has been clear, Chris, that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy. We are shifting from a time based military strategy that had very clear troop ceiling levels to now, as he indicated, a conditions-based strategy which means it will be dictated by conditions on the ground and formed by battlefield commanders. He has also delegated significant authority to Secretary Mattis to set troop levels but also has been able to delegate further to military commanders in the field decision making to begin to turn the tide against the Taliban.”

“Our objective is to deny any terrorist organization any territory with which they can organize, raise financing, recruit new fighters, develop techniques for carrying out terrorist attacks and then deploying those. We know that if we deny them the space to do that, we protect the homeland, we also protect Americans and our allies as well.”

— @johnson_carrie: “Karl Rove on @FoxNewsSunday says Trump was ‘making a political statement’ with Arpaio pardon, calls it ‘a bad mistake.’”

JUST LIKE HICKENLOOPER TOLD US … CHUCK TODD speaks with OHIO GOV. JOHN KASICH on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: TODD: “Well, let me ask you about that, with both parties obviously there was some fun speculation about 2020 bubbling up. And the idea, you mentioned John Hickenlooper, the governor of Colorado, that you two are working together, trying to come up with a bipartisan fix here on the state exchanges and the health care law in general. And somebody floated the idea that it could be a 2020 unity ticket. Are you, could you imagine yourself leaving the Republican Party to do something like this?” KASICH: “Chuck, look, Kasich/Hickenlooper. You couldn’t–first of all, you couldn’t pronounce it. And secondly, you couldn’t fit it on a bumper sticker. But here’s what I do want to say, because Hickenlooper and I–” TODD: “That’s not a denial.” …

KASICH: “The answer is no, ok. But here’s what–I do want people to think about this, because Hickenlooper and I work together cynics out there say, ‘Well, they want something.’ Because we want to stabilize health care and make sure that poor people have something people assume there’s a motive. You know, sometimes people actually do things because they’re trying to help somebody. And when we do that everybody ought not to say, ‘Well, what’s in it for them?’ This growing cynicism eats at the fabric of the spirit of our country. It’s not–it really aggravates–not much that aggravates me. That does.”

CARL HULSE speaks to SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-ARIZ.) http://nyti.ms/2xnVEZA

SPORTS BLINK — “Mayweather stops McGregor with 10th-round TKO to go 50-0,” by USA Today’s Bob Velin: https://usat.ly/2wzo4Cc

WOAH… — “Zinke’s veteran daughter excoriates Trump in response to transgender military ban,” by Billings Gazette’s Jayme Fraser: “The daughter of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, like her father a Navy veteran, appears, in the rawest of terms, to have excoriated President Donald Trump in a social media post after the announcement that transgender soldiers would be banned from the military. ‘This man is a disgrace. I’ve tried to keep politics out of my social media feed as much as possible, but this is inexcusable,’ read a July 26 public Instagram post from what appears to be the account of Jennifer Detlefsen, the Navy diver daughter Zinke frequently mentioned in his successful 2016 re-election campaign for the U.S. House. … ‘This veteran says sit down and shut the (expletive) up, you know-nothing, never-served piece of (expletive).’ She also used a hashtag, #itmfa, that is an acronym for ‘impeach the (expletive) already.’” http://bit.ly/2xnPo3YSee the Instagram post http://bit.ly/2wJLftX

2018 WATCH — “Democrats exploit GOP ethics woes in battle for the House,” by Elena Schneider and Austin Wright: “Duncan Hunter’s Southern California district isn’t normally a serious target for Democrats. But a criminal investigation into allegations of campaign funds for personal use — including flying his pet rabbit across the country — isn’t exactly normal either. Hunter is one of a handful of House Republicans in ethical hot water that could put their typically safe seats at risk. And the [DCCC] is planning to exploit their troubles in 2018 in the hopes of notching long-shot victories that could be the difference between winning the House or falling just short. …

“Among the incumbents on their early target list are California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, whose ties to Russian officials have come under scrutiny and was once warned by the FBI that Russian spies were trying to recruit him; New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who faces an ethics complaint from an outside watchdog group over a letter that some perceived as targeting an activist; New York Rep. Chris Collins, whose stock-market investments are under investigation; Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assault for attacking a reporter; and California Rep. Devin Nunes, whose handling of classified information is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.” http://politi.co/2wSpgjT

HMM — “Ex-Trump adviser helps Iraqis president wants to deport — for a price,” by Nahal Toosi: “A former campaign adviser to Donald Trump is offering to testify in court on behalf of Iraqi Christians in the United States who suddenly face deportation under the Republican president — for a hefty fee. Walid Phares, a Lebanese-American academic, advised Trump on foreign affairs during the 2016 presidential campaign. He also has appeared on the Fox News and Fox Business channels to promote Trump’s national security policies, including the travel bans that would temporarily bar Iraqi Christian refugees, among others, from U.S. soil.

“At the same time, Phares charges unusually high fees — up to $15,000 or more, according to lawyers — to testify in immigration proceedings about the dangers facing people deported to Iraq, where Christians and others with U.S. ties are often killed. Activists who work with Iraqis in the U.S. are questioning Phares’ dual role as an advocate of Trump’s harsher immigration policies and a defender of those who are being affected.” http://politi.co/2iBtW8r

WAPO — Ecstasy could be ‘breakthrough’ therapy for soldiers, others suffering from PTSD,” by William Wan: “For Jon Lubecky, the scars on his wrists are a reminder of the years he spent in mental purgatory. He returned from an Army deployment in Iraq a broken man. He heard mortar shells and helicopters where there were none. He couldn’t sleep and drank until he passed out. He got every treatment offered by Veterans Affairs for post-traumatic stress disorder. But they didn’t stop him from trying to kill himself — five times.

“Finally, he signed up for an experimental therapy and was given a little green capsule. The anguish stopped. Inside that pill was a compound named MDMA, better known by dealers and rave partygoers as ecstasy. That street drug is emerging as the most promising tool to come along in years for the military’s escalating PTSD epidemic. The MDMA program was created by a small group of psychedelic researchers who had toiled for years in the face of ridicule, funding shortages and skepticism. But the results have been so positive that this month the Food and Drug Administration deemed it a ‘breakthrough therapy’ — setting it on a fast track for review and potential approval.” http://wapo.st/2viaseL

****** A message from Chevron: This is a story about energy, safety, and some truly high-flyin’ doin’. We’re piloting a program that uses drones, HD imaging, and thermal mapping to help keep a close eye on Chevron wells, tanks, and pipelines—all to keep DOERS and what they’re doin’ safer. Watch the video: http://politi.co/2vLsVyX ******

BEN SCHRECKINGER in POLITICO Magazine, “The Trouble With Ivanka’s Business Partner: The first daughter’s longtime friend and associate is falling afoul of his creditors—and the courts”: “His vendors call him a ‘career grifter.’ His father’s creditors claim he’s a fraud and a serial extortionist who shakes people down with trumped-up threats of criminal charges. With these and other allegations piling up in court records along with judgments—against him, his wife and his businesses—for millions of dollars, his lawyers are abandoning him, saying he’s a deadbeat. All the while, he’s been living in one of the most luxurious mansions in the Bronx.Meet Ivanka Trump’s longtime friend, matchmaker and business partner, Moshe Lax. For the past decade, Lax, a 43-year-old New York diamond heir and entrepreneur, has been Trump’s partner in Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, the first major venture of her business career. Trump and her family have continued to associate with Lax even as his legal problems have mounted and Trump has been dragged into Lax’s business disputes.” http://politi.co/2wfB5yj

BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:

— “The Great Pot Monopoly Mystery,” by Amanda Chicago Lewis in GQ: “Some very powerful people are trying to corner the market on legal weed and turn their company into the Monsanto of marijuana. Who are they? And can they be stopped?” http://bit.ly/2wcnwQ6 (h/t Longreads.com)

— “Mark Lilla Vs. Identity Politics,” by Rod Dreher in The American Conservative: “‘To understand what ails this country you need to pay attention to difference. In order to fix what ails us you need to hold onto the universal democratic ideal. It is very hard to make identitarians see this. Politics is not a speech act. It is not about getting recognition for certain groups who have problems, it is about acquiring power to help them.’” http://bit.ly/2vdEmkx (h/t TheBrowser.com)

— “Must She Choose? — The Family Leave Dilemma: Is there a federal answer?” by the Weekly Standard’s Alice B. Lloyd in her cover debut: “The United States stands alone among 41 economically comparable democratic nations in not mandating paid leave for new parents, according to data presented last year by the [OECD]. The U.N. reported in 2014 that only Suriname, Oman, Papua New Guinea, and a smattering of South Pacific islands joined the United States in offering new mothers no form of paid leave.” http://tws.io/2vetDpH

— “The biggest thing Trump doesn’t get about George Washington,” by CNN’s
Mark Preston: “‘Washington fought a war to establish a new country based upon the idea of liberty, the ideals of the Declaration of Independence,’ Douglas Bradburn, founding director of the George Washington presidential library, said in a telephone interview this week. ‘Lee fought a war based upon the ideals of the secessionists, the idea that slavery was a positive good.’” http://cnn.it/2xDBvxY

— “After Charlottesville, New Shades of Gray in a Changing South,” by
Tony Horwitz in the WSJ: “Celebrations of the Confederacy have steadily ebbed, and the recent confrontations will accelerate this retreat among all but the extremists.” http://on.wsj.com/2vsQwSA

— “A Made-for-Tabloid Murder,” by Maureen Orth in the August 2003 Vanity Fair: “On Christmas Eve, a pretty, young, pregnant wife goes missing. Right after the Iraq war, her body washes up, and her husband is arrested. With its heartbreaking details and perfect timing, the Laci Peterson murder has become America’s No. 1 crime and human-interest story. In Modesto, California, where National Enquirer reporters wield huge checks, cable-news anchors fight over gruesome autopsy exclusives, and the most elusive prey is Scott Peterson’s ‘motive,’ Amber Frey, the author reports on three families, a town, and an industry, all consumed by a national obsession.” http://bit.ly/2w5rBan

— “The Girl from Plainville,” by Jesse Barron in Esquire: “Can words kill? Earlier this year, a young woman from a small town in Massachusetts stood trial for homicide. Prosecutors argued that her calls and texts fueled her boyfriend’s suicide. The judge’s shocking verdict answered the question of whether speech alone was enough to make her guilty in his death, but it left a larger question untouched: What was Michelle Carter thinking?” http://bit.ly/2wbJqmI (h/t Longform.org)

— “The Mysteries of the Russian Mindset,” by Christian Neef in Der Spiegel: “Putin initially thought like a Westerner, but ultimately realized why every Russian ruler struggles to lead this nation: Because its inhabitants, in accordance with an unshakable tradition, freely delegate all their power to a single person, and then wait for that power to take care of them, without doing anything themselves. Liberalism has no chance in Russia. The people won’t allow it.” http://bit.ly/2ixd3eZ (h/t TheBrowser.com)

— “Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world,” by Stephen Metcalfe in The Guardian: “Neoliberalism is a name for the premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: That competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity. Thirty years on, and it can fairly be said that Hayek’s victory is unrivalled. We live in a paradise built by his Big Idea. The more closely the world can be made to resemble an ideal market governed only by perfect competition, the more law-like and ‘scientific’ human behaviour, in the aggregate, becomes.” http://bit.ly/2w59Qbh

— “Without Chick Parsons, General MacArthur May Never Have Made His Famed Return to the Philippines,” by Peter Eisner in Smithsonian: “Before World War II, Parsons had been the toast of Manila society, successful in business and unrivaled on the polo field, a gregarious, muscular expat American with a shock of wavy brown hair, a winning smile and an eagle tattooed across the expanse of his chest.” http://bit.ly/2wbxMIp

— “Into the Fray,” by Sophia Jones in GW Magazine: “In covering conflict abroad, a foreign correspondent finds purpose not on the front lines, but in the silences just beyond, where reverberations of war seldom find daylight.” http://bit.ly/2wvf6G6

— “How Science Is Unlocking the Secrets of Addiction,” by Fran Smith on the cover of September’s NatGeo: “We’re learning more about the craving that fuels self-defeating habits—and how new discoveries can help us kick the habit.” http://on.natgeo.com/2xA3FtvThe cover http://politi.co/2wFJCxC

— “Trying to pry open the black box of heartbreak,” by Mandy Len Catron on TED.com: “Why does love end — and why does it hurt so darn much? We can take a bit of creature comfort in knowing that other animals seem to suffer, too.” http://bit.ly/2gcTW8Z

SPOTTED: Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) at Dunkin’ Donuts early Sunday morning at DCA. “Stopped by a well-wisher, he filmed a brief message and then dashed off to a gate,” per our tipster.

WEEKEND WEDDING – “Leigh Shirvan, David Helfenbein” – N.Y. Times: “Mrs. Helfenbein, 31, is the president and founder of Leigh Aubrey Communications in New York, where she consults for restaurants on their social media and marketing campaigns. She is also the founder of the food Instagram account HungryObsession. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin. … Mr. Helfenbein, also 31, is a senior adviser in New York for Main & Rose, a personal and corporate strategic branding company based in Los Angeles. In September he is to become a senior vice president there. Previously he worked for Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, as the social media coordinator in the office of strategic communication at the State Department, and as a legislative correspondent in the Senate. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. He received a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis.” With pic http://nyti.ms/2vAn38j Wedding pics http://bit.ly/2wSrgZr http://bit.ly/2xofHam

WELCOME TO THE WORLD – Jane Lucas, deputy director in the office of health reform at HHS and former LD for Sen. Thune, and Chris Lucas, director of global gov’t affairs for Bank of New York Mellon and a former aide to Republican Sens. Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), recently welcomed Grace Emily Lucas. Pic http://politi.co/2wJ6M66

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Morra Aarons-Mele, author of “Hiding in the Bathroom” ($17.53 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2wcQiCI) (hat tip: Jon Haber) … (was Friday): Weekly Standard reporter Jen Lifhits, celebrating this weekend at home with family in Connecticut (h/t Tim Mak)

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Josh Mankiewicz, correspondent for NBC’s “Dateline,” which will be starting its 26th season in late September. A trend he thinks should get more attention: “The colossal wave of violence in this country against women, by men. Most of it never makes it to an emergency room, a police blotter, or into print.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2iz7jBe

BIRTHDAYS: Rachel Racusen, celebrating in Milwaukee at her brother-in-law’s wedding (h/t Peter Hamby) … former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) … NYT daily book critic Jennifer Senior, an NYMag alum … Roger Stone … Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large at The Atlantic … Politico’s Darius Dixon, Megan Cassella, and Sarah Gamard … Xavier Pugliese … Peter Sterne, senior reporter and managing editor of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker (h/t Hanna Trudo) … Jedd Rosche, CNN Politics Congress editor … Ben Neal … Blake Sobczak, cybersecurity reporter for E&E News … Danielle Weisberg, co-founder of theSkimm … Josh Paciorek of VP Pence’s office … Morris Jones … Pete Boyle, VP of public affairs at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities … Jim Osman … Christopher Brown, VP of EFB Advocacy … August Skamenca … Christine O’Donnell …

… Ty Matsdorf … Melissa Sellers … Edgar Abrams … Kelsey Berg … Francesca McCrary … Sarah Schenning … Peter Rothfeld … former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) … Moutray McLaren … former Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) … Linda McKay … Marilyn Renner … Jon Kinney … Politico Europe’s Pierre H. Teheux … BBC’s Katrina Salhioui … Ruth Harkin, the first woman to be elected county prosecutor in the State of Iowa … Leah Daughtry … Marcia Frew … Steve Aldrich … Jeannette O’Connor (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … CRC’s Megan Wilburn … Donald St. Clair … Nicole Charalambous … Paul Reubens … Bill Hamilton … Jason Houser … Mindy Tucker Fletcher … Sean Healy … Robert Cole … Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”) (h/t AP)

****** A message from Chevron: This is a story about energy, safety, and some truly high-flyin’ doin’. We’re piloting a program that uses drones, HD imaging, and thermal mapping to help keep a close eye on Chevron wells, tanks, and pipelines—all to keep DOERS and what they’re doin’ safer. Watch the video: http://politi.co/2vLsVyX ******

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