Charlie Cook and his team at The Cook Political Report are out with eye-popping new data that help show why Congress is frozen — and why happy talk about working together to do big things, whether by optimistic centrists or by people in power who need to put points on the board, is belied by data.
Key trends — all 20 years in the making, but hardened and in some cases accelerated by the "hyper-polarized" election of 2016 — from the 20th anniversary "Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index," by David Wasserman and Ally Flinn:
What it means: We are increasingly moving next to people who share our political views — and then following and sharing like-minded news on social media when our doors are closed. This can't be fixed with better redistricting laws.
See a chart from Quorum of Dem House members in the top R-trending districts, and GOP House members in the top D-trending districts.
Criminal-justice reform has become a popular bipartisan issue, but a WashPost front-pager by Justice Department reporter Sari Horowitz says Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to move the opposite direction, "preparing a plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases and pursue mandatory minimum sentences."
In a scoop, AP Justice Department reporter Eric Tucker finds that the "FBI has been reviewing the handling of thousands of terrorism-related tips and leads from the past three years to make sure they were properly investigated and no obvious red flags were missed":
The N.Y. Times' Jeremy Peters dives into one of Steve Bannon's favorite books, "The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy — What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny," by amateur historians William Strauss and Neil Howe (first published 20 years ago, in 1997):
Bannon has great admiration for a provocative but disputed theory of history that argues that the United States is nearing a crisis that could be just as disruptive and catastrophic as the most seminal global turning points of the last 250 years. This prophecy ... makes the case that world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each.
In an interview with The Times, Mr. Bannon said, "Everything President Trump is doing — all of it — is to get ahead of or stop any potential crisis."
Key passage: "Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, one commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule."
The book's key tenets, per Peters:
N.Y. Times' Peter Baker: "To the extent that a Trump Doctrine is emerging, it seems to be this: don't get roped in by doctrine."
AP's Julie Pace and Vivian Salama in Palm Beach: "Trump would say he's simply flexible, an emerging foreign policy doctrine that leaves room for evolution and uncertainty."
Breaking ... On NBC's "Meet the Press," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley tells Chuck Todd re Trump's decision to strike Syria: "[T]hat was seen successfully around the world. I think it was enough to put Assad on notice. I think that anybody that would attempt to use chemical weapons or do anything to hurt innocent people, at this point, will absolutely think twice. And they should."
This map by Axios' Lazaro Gamio shows which groups control which areas in Syria and Iraq, according to analysts at IHS Jane's Conflict Monitor. The Islamic State has lost territory to advancing Iraqi government forces and Kurdish groups, while Syria remains split by its six-year-long civil war.
"Obama aides push back against criticism of inaction on Syria," by AP's Jesse Holland:
Obama aides took to Twitter and the airwaves this week to point out what they called the hypocrisy from Republicans and from Trump himself. 'Times change. "In 13, Speaker asks Obama how: 'justification comports with exclusive authority of Cong authorization,'" tweeted Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser under Obama. Tommy Vietor, former spokesman for the Obama National Security Council, sent out Trump's tweet demanding Obama get congressional approval.
A newly vital job category, vulnerable to automation, mushrooms across America ...
"Online Retailers' New Warehouses Heat Up Local Job Markets: Fulfillment centers for online retailers are offering flexible work schedules, gift cards, bonuses and raises to attract workers," writes the Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Smith:
[W]ith the unemployment rate close to a 10-year low, competition for warehouse workers is fueling the biggest wage gains inside warehouses in at least a decade. Starting pay for warehouse workers rose 6% over the past year to $12.15 an hour in February ...
The warehouse and storage sector expanded dramatically as more people shop online ... Warehouse workers typically earn a few dollars an hour above minimum wage, though minimum-wage laws in places like California and Massachusetts could narrow the gap.
"Harvard and Stanford reject nearly 95% of the students who apply," Business Insider's Abby Jackson and Mike Nudelman point out.
Alex Baldwin plays both roles as Donald Trump defends Bill O'Reilly on "Saturday Night Live."
O'Reilly: "Apparently several women have come forward and accused me of offering them exciting opportunities here at Fox news."
"Very proud of all of our sponsors" : Dog Cocaine, "Cialis for horses" and the movie "CHIPS."
Trump: "I actually see a lot of myself in you, Bill. ... I'm more familiar with this case than I am with, say, health care. But I didn't really look into it much."
"I was too busy being super-presidential. ... I'm back, baby!"