Jonathan Weisman & Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "The Senate gave overwhelming approval on Thursday to a measure on the training and arming of Syrian rebels, then fled the Capitol for the fall campaign, sidestepping the debate over the extent of American military action until the lame-duck session of Congress later this year. The training measure, pushed hard by President Obama, was tucked into a larger Senate bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, a maneuver that leaders of both parties favored to ensure as few defections as possible. The Senate’s 78-to-22 vote, a day after the House passed the measure, masked the serious doubts that many senators had." ...
... Ben Hubbard of the New York Times: "In President Obama’s strategy of building an international coalition to fight the Islamic State without American troops..., moderate [Syrian] rebels loom large as the best force to fight the extremists in Syria.... At present the rebels are a beleaguered lot, far from becoming a force that can take on the fanatical and seasoned fighters of the Islamic State.... [A] scaled-up training program would be overseen by the Defense Department, unlike the current covert program here and a similar program in Jordan, both overseen by the C.I.A." ...
... we underestimated ISIL and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. . . . I didn’t see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn’t see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable. -- James Clapper, National Intelligence Director ...
... David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence."
We are supposed to keep the country safe, predict anticipatory intelligence, with no risk, and no embarrassment if revealed, and without a scintilla of jeopardy to privacy of any domestic person or foreign person. We call that ‘immaculate collection.’ --James Clapper, on the mission of the agencies he oversees
This is what the average voter thinks President Obama should be able to do. If, by some miracle he could perfectly secure the nation, millions of Americans would still oppose him because the weather sucks or their neighbors are jerks. If it turned out Obama was the second coming of Jesus, these people would choose to be "left behind." -- Constant Weader
... Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: "Departing from its serial beheading videos of Western hostages that have outraged the world, the Islamic State released a new video on Thursday featuring a captive British journalist seated behind a desk, explaining the group’s message and warning that America and its allies are foolishly heading into another unwinnable war. The Internet video,..., subtitled in Arabic, shows the journalist, John Cantlie, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and apparently reading from a script, recalling how he was captured by the militant group also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL after he arrived in Syria in November 2012." ...
... Andy Greenberg of Wired with an update on those iPhones for Criminals: "A reminder to iPhone owners cheering Apple’s latest privacy win: Just because Apple will no longer help police to turn your smartphone inside out doesn’t mean it can prevent the cops from vivisecting the device on their own."
Burgess Everett of Politico: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid paid compliments on Thursday to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — but deferred to President Barack Obama on her future as the head of the party. Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida, is under increasing scrutiny by top Democrats in Washington for her stewardship of the party since 2011. Reid called her a “friend” but skirted answering a reporter’s question on whether she’s became a liability for Democrats as they head into a pitched battle to keep the Senate this November."
Alan Blinder & Campbell Robertson of the New York Times: "... a federal judge[, Mark Fuller,] in Alabama on Thursday faced abrupt and potent pressure to resign after he was charged with striking his wife last month at a luxury hotel here.... Judge Fuller, an appointee of President George W. Bush and a frequent target of Democratic ire, has also received harsh criticism from Republican members of Alabama’s congressional delegation, including the state’s two senators, who both called for him to resign.... The reaction was a remarkable display of how accusations of domestic violence are suddenly being viewed with new urgency far beyond the N.F.L."
"Errors & Emissions." Paul Krugman: "Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free.... If we ever get past the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet, we’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines." CW: Also, kudos to the headline-writer.
Linda Greenhouse: On gay marriage, Judge Posner evolves. Greenhouse does not think the Supremes will take up the issue this year.
** Wichita Eagle: "Democrat Chad Taylor is off the ballot for the U.S. Senate in Kansas. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled late Thursday afternoon that Taylor’s letter to the Secretary of State’s Office met the requirements for him to withdraw. Secretary of State Kris Kobach had said Taylor had failed to declare that he was incapable of serving as required by Kansas statute and had ruled that his name would remain on the ballot. Taylor took the unprecedented step of suing to have his name removed....[Sen. Pat] Roberts campaign issued a statement decrying the ruling. 'Today, the Kansas Supreme Court deliberately, and for political purposes, disenfranchised over 65,000 voters,' it said." ...
... Rick Hasen: "This is a unanimous, per curiam (unsigned) opinion from the Court holding that Democrat Chad Taylor’s name will not be on the ballot in the Kansas Senate race. This has political implications, as it will likely cause more Democrats to vote for independent Greg Orman instead of incumbent Republican Pat Roberts. It puts the seat, and perhaps the Senate, up for grabs. But there’s a wrinkle. There is still possible Court action now to force Democrats to name a new candidate to replace Taylor on the ballot."
Simon Maloy of Slate: "Earlier this week, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported out the fairly bizarre story [linked in yesterday's Commentariat] of Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby and the health plan that she plagiarized from Crossroads GPS. Her candidacy has long been a favorite of conservative pundits who convinced themselves that Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon running in a state that had an especially rough experience with the Affordable Care Act rollout, was ideally positioned to campaign hard on health policy and take down Democratic incumbent Jeff Merkley.... In May, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel called Wehby the 'Democrats’ worst nightmare,' citing her alleged health policy chops. 'She’s a policy wonk, able to run rings around Oregon’s junior senator, especially on health-care reform,' Strassel wrote. The fact that Wehby’s health policy was pinched from a poll conducted by Karl Rove is, therefore, hilarious."
Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate "
Worse Than Republicans. Alison Montoya of WLWT Cincinnati. "... write-in [U.S Senate] candidate Robert Ransdell said he knows he cannot win against Republican Mitch McConnell or Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes but wants to use the campaign to spread his slogan, 'With Jews We Lose.'... As of Wednesday the signs were gone. Apparently Ransdell did not ask the property owner for permission."
Hunter of Daily Kos: "The latest candidate to sign up for the hard-fought America's Dumbest Congressman competition is Republican Mark Walker, who's running for North Carolina's deep-red 6th Congressional district.... Walker's answer to undocumented immigrants is to 'go laser or blitz somebody' in Mexico." If attacking Mexico happened to start a war, "Well," Walker says, "we did it before, if we need to do it again, I don't have a qualm about it."
Beyond the Beltway
Charles Pierce: "Everything done by the local police chief, and the local police forces, from the moment [Michael] Brown's body hit the pavement, seemed oriented around a desire to provoke the maximum outrage so as to justify the maximum police response. And now, it appears, the grand jury investigating the case of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Brown, is headed down the same strange road." ...
... CW: Pierce's post is titled "The Latest from Ferguson," but in fact, the latest -- of which Pierce was unaware -- is that Wilson already has testified before the grand jury. In a Post-Dispatch story I linked yesterday, Robert Patrick wrote that Wilson testified for nearly four hours -- although he was not required by law to appear -- & that his "source said Wilson was 'cooperative.'" IMO, the update supports Pierce's contention. Wilson "cooperated" because he knows damned well the fix is in. If his attorney thought DA Bob McCulloch had any intention to challenge Wilson on "inconvenient facts," the lawyer would not have allowed Wilson to testify.
Will Weissert of the AP: "Amid uproar in conservative circles about perceived anti-American bias in the new [national] Advanced Placement U.S. History course and exam, Texas on Wednesday moved to require its high school students to learn only state-mandated curriculum — not be taught to the national test.... Conservative activists, though, have decried the new course, the teachers' framework and even the exam itself as rife with liberal themes and focusing on the negative aspects of U.S. history. Some have even likened it to 'mind control' engineered by the federal government." ...
... Charles Pierce: "... in a very important state of the union, a state governed by a man who is running around the country pretending he's smart enough to be president, high school students are going to learn American history in a strange, sanitized version unlike that taught anywhere else. Because the Texas Board of Education is opposed to mind control. Good for them."