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Establishment Republicans are getting squeezed to death from within.
In what should be nirvana — all-party control of Washington — they instead are jammed daily between a president who routinely ridicules them for ineptitude — and Steve Bannon, who's recruiting hardliners to extinguish their very existence.
Bannon's plans are more ominous than publicly known, sources tell Jonathan Swan and me:
Why this matters: The Breitbart News chairman and former White House chief strategist is building a nationwide coalition that — in the words of a former Trump White House official — could "wreak havoc" across the map "if Bannon is even halfways successful."
The GOP establishment is skeptical but scared. Bannon has juice with the base, and feels emboldened about his "House of Pain" after his candidate, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, took down incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in last month's primary.
One of the most in-demand Republican operatives says of Bannon: "One year from now everyone is going to reminisce about this in the same way 90s kids do about Ini Kamoza's 'Here Comes the Hotstepper' — 'Oh, yeah. I remember that song. What the hell happened to him? Just that one song, huh?"
Be smart: Bannon can sound delusional about his power to disrupt the party. But make no mistake: the combo of his fame with the base + access to Mercer money + true belief in America first policies = big trouble for establishment Republicans in 2018 and beyond.
"Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation's highest ranking national security leaders," NBC's Courtney Kube, Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee and Savannah Guthrie report:
"Toll from Northern California firestorms sharply rise: 2,000 structures destroyed, at least 17 dead" — L.A. Times:
S.F. Chronicle: "The horror of the disaster was underscored by a desperate effort by people to find relatives who have not been heard from, a problem complicated by downed cell phone towers."
Go deeper ... Axios map, "Where northern California's wildfires are raging," by Lazaro Gamio.
With a stunning 2-1 loss in/to Trinidad and Tobago last night, the U.S. men's national team fails to make the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May's administration said her cabinet is considering regulating Google and Facebook as news organizations, rather than being treated like pure tech companies, Axios' Sara Fischer and David McCabe report:
The Trump administration will present controversial proposals for NAFTA negotiations that are expected to attract vehement opposition from Congress, large sections of the U.S. business community and leaders in Canada and Mexico, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:
A senior congressional aide said the administration is pushing to include the following issues, which are troublesome to large sections of Congress and the business community:
Bottom line: Although these are just opening bids, many trade experts worry that Trump and chief trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer are being so aggressive and unreasonable that Canada or Mexico will see no choice but to walk away.
Go deeper ... See more of the demands.
"Big numbers have always attracted Trump, regardless of their accuracy," writes Randall Lane, editor of Forbes, after the interview where the president challenged his SecState to an IQ comparison:
Trump quote: "I'm generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don't need them ... I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it's totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people."
"Trump Unfiltered": See the transcript of Trump's interview.
"How manufacturing is fueling robotics in central Pennsylvania," by Axios tech editor Kim Hart in York, Pa.:
"Harvey Weinstein [planned to fly to] a rehab center in Europe for sex addiction ... and other behavioral issues," TMZ reported after a day of stunning new revelations, paired with repudiations by the Clintons and Obamas.
If you read only one thing ... Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker, "Weinstein's Accusers Tell Their Stories: Multiple women, including Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, and Asia Argento, share harrowing accounts of sexual assault and harassment by the film executive."
Jeffrey Katzenberg's reply to Weinstein's plea for an endorsement: "Having watched your reactions, seen the actions you have taken and read your statement, I will tell you, in my opinion, you have gone about this all wrong and you are continuing to make a horrible set of circumstances even worse."
"Pumpkin spice fights maple to keep its fall flavor crown," per USA Today front page: