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In The Pipe, Five By Five

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Orange Julius and the rest of the House GOP have a new game of chicken to play this month:  attaching the Keystone XL pipeline to the highway bill in order to force the President’s hand.  What they got out of it?  Enough Dems for a veto-proof margin, apparently.

Defying a White House veto threat, the House on Wednesday passed legislation that extends transportation program funding through September and mandates construction of a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

All but 14 Republicans, with support from 69 Democrats, voted 293-127 for legislation that falls far short of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) earlier plan to move a sweeping five-year, $260 billion package.

But Boehner’s retreat serves two crucial tactical and political purposes for the Speaker. It sets up talks with the Senate on the highway bill and keeps the Keystone pipeline — a centerpiece of GOP attacks on White House energy policy — front and center ahead of the November election.

Republican leaders hailed the bipartisan vote  as a rebuke of President Obama.  Two senior Democrat leaders, Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.) and John Larson (Conn.), approved the measure.

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The wingers are sensing a win in the Senate too, possibly even a veto-proof one.

Then there is the Senate. Democrats are using the filibuster to stop the pipeline, which means 60 votes are required to pass it. (Some Democrats who bitterly opposed the filibuster when Republicans used it against Obama initiatives are notably silent these days.) In a vote last month, 11 Senate Democrats stood up against Obama to vote in favor of the pipeline. Add those 11 to the Republicans’ 47 votes, and the pro-pipeline forces are just a couple of votes away from breaking Harry Reid’s filibuster.

“We’re right around the corner from actually passing it,” says a well-informed Senate source. “Two-hundred-ninety-three votes in the House is a gigantic number. People want this thing.”

People want the highway bill, not the pipeline.  Byron York there completely fails to mention that the Keystone XL pipeline is tacked on to the Federal Highway bill, which is yet another example of why he’s a hack working for the DC Examiner and not, you know, an actual news outlet or anything.

It turns out in an election year when jobs are the number one priority, voting against the highway bill is pretty much suicide for your average House member.  There’s a bit more leeway in the Senate, but even so, it’s looking like as with the horrible JOBS Act (also passed with an overwhelming veto-proof margin) that the Senate is going to go along with anything that even remotely sounds like they’re doing something and leaving President Obama to be attacked for anything that happens as a result.

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So of course, I fully expect the Dems in Congress to cave here, put the President in an untenable position, and then having to listen to the Purity Police tell me that there’s no difference between Obama and Satan again and why I’m a moron for voting at all.

This is a fight the Republicans are going to at least do some serious damage with.  How much damage depends on how many Dems are going to leave the President at the tender mercies of the GOP.  At this rate, you have to ask if the Dems aren’t trying to lose on purpose so they can stay out of power.

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Kanye ripped for latest Trump defense: Always someone willing to write a check to ‘a black person defending white supremacy’

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Kanye West hugging Trump

A panel discussion on recent concerts put on by Kanye West in Salt Lake City and Howard University turned to his new recent comments he made defending his support for Donald Trump -- with one panelist saying the rapper is getting paid on the side for siding with the president.

Speaking with host Kendis Gibson, guests Danielle Moodie-Mills and Clay Cane were harshly critical of West trying to drum up black support for the president as well as his recent comments on slavery.

"What is going on here?" Gibson began. "So you saw the pictures of Kanye West in the middle of Salt Lake City. He drew about 10,000 people here at Howard University, it was a smaller crowd because they didn't get the e-mail about it until 6:00 a.m. on homecoming weekend. Largely, a lot of people who are going to these shows are black folks. These are some of the scenes in Salt Lake City, so people are wondering: is he sort of like Trump's secret weapon, a secret outreach to the black community? "

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Here are 3 moves a desperate Trump will likely attempt in order to cling to power

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In a column for the Daily Beast, political observer Micheal Tomasky speculated -- and not without good reason -- that a frantic Donald Trump will do anything to remain in office and thereby avoid being slammed with criminal indictments once he departs the Oval Office for good..

As the columnist explained, impeachment seems inevitable and the president will likely take desperate measures and that he has already given hints about three paths he may take -- if not all of them.

Tomasky wrote, "It’s foolish to say that Trump thinks ahead about anything. The late journalist Wayne Barrett said many true things about Trump, but the truest ever was when he observed that Trump says whatever will get him through the next 10 minutes," before adding, "People around him of course are more strategic and are thinking ahead. And they’re all saying and doing and writing things right now that will, if the opportunity presents itself, pave the way for Trump to burn the Constitution."

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Pentagon says up to 1,000 US troops to withdraw from northern Syria

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The Pentagon said Sunday President Donald Trump had ordered the withdrawal of up to 1,000 troops from northern Syria -- almost the entire ground force in war-torn country -- amid an intensifying Turkish assault on Kurdish forces.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the move came after the US learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than had been expected.

And the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are seeking a deal with the Syrian regime and Russia to counter-attack against the Turks in the north, Esper added.

"We find ourselves as we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation," Esper told CBS's Face the Nation.

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