Talk Media News
Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
Quick News

  • GOP huddles: Brokered convention?
  • Keep our govt open! Stopgap bill
  • Cruz finally criticizes Trump
  • Syrian rebels ready for talks?
  • Pols talk visa scrutiny
  • Democrats slam Scalia over race remarks
  • Gun safety – or not – news

GOP Huddles: Brokered Convention (WaPo, Hill, me)
• Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) listened as more than 20 top GOP officials argued at a Monday dinner that the establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight and a brokered convention if Donald Trump storms through the primaries – five sources (panic at the disco)

• The sources told WaPo that Priebus and McConnell were mostly silent during the deliberation and didn’t signal support for an explicit anti-Trump effort. But both men did acknowledge that a stalemated convention is something the party should be ready for. The dinner was at the upscale Source, near the Capitol (being Republicans, they sensibly made sure the food was good)

• A brokered convention would happen if no candidate was able to win the nomination on a first-ballot vote, starting a multi-ballot exercise on the floor that could extend for hours until a candidate has secured sufficient support (meanwhile, we all gain five pounds munching compulsively as we binge-watch C-Span – or we’re there)

• Many of the delegate are “bound” on the first ballot, meaning they must support the candidate they chose in primaries or state conventions. But that restriction would lift if no nominee is chosen. The jockeying for candidates on a second ballot – or third, fourth or fifth – would be intense and full of political dealmaking, thus the term “brokered convention

• Trump told WaPo last week, “I don’t think it’s going to be a brokered convention. But if it is, I’d certainly go all the way – and I think I’d have a certain disadvantage. The dealmaking, that’s my advantage. My disadvantage is that I’d be going up against guys who grew up with each other who know each other intimately, and I don’t know who they are, OK?” (bet he walks that back)

• “What he’s [Trump] saying now is not only shameful and wrong, it’s dangerous. … This latest demand that we not let Muslims in to our country really plays right into the hands of the terrorists. I don’t say that lightly but it does. He is giving them a great propaganda tool,” Hillary Clinton said on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on NBC on Thursday (AP)


Keep Our Govt Open! Stopgap Bill (Politico, Hill, me)
• With talks still stalled over a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill and one day before the govt would run dry, the Senate voted Thursday to keep federal agencies open for business through Wednesday. The House is expected to follow suit today with an identical stopgap measure
• The move to buy more time came after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) huddled privately Thursday morning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). The latest Democratic offer – which included policy riders dealing with green energy (just throw in unicorn protection, too) – is a non-starter for the (coal-loving, unicorn-eating) GOP
• The Democrats’ bill includes a provision to extend healthcare benefits to 9/11 responders, and another to help Puerto Rico manage its debt crisis. It also includes language ending the 19-year-old federal ban on gun violence research – (like that would ever make it in…) Ryan announced Thursday the 9/11 responders bill will be part of the omnibus (thank you, Jon Stewart)
• Republicans have been pushing a series of riders including efforts to gut water and air pollution regs, eliminate Wall Street reforms, make it tougher tor workers to unionize and bolsters screenings for refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq – what Democrats call “poison pills.” Democrats took them all out of their package
• Ryan on Thursday wouldn’t commit to wrapping up negotiations by Wed. “I don’t think it would be right to say what date we’re going to be done by, because I want to make sure that these negotiations are done well and done right.” A WH veto hovers in the background if negotiations drag on and are merely over riders…


• French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said this morning that high-stakes climate talks he is co-hosting outside Paris will not end today as planned but will last at least until Saturday. “There is still work to do. Things are going in the right direction,” he told BFM TV (AP)

Cruz Finally Criticizes Trump (NYT, me)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised questions on Wed at a private fund-raiser about whether Donald Trump has the “judgment” to be president and mused about “strength,” according to two people who attended the Manhattan event. Cruz has studiously avoided public criticism of Trump. Cruz moved ahead of Trump in a poll this week of Iowa caucusgoers
• Inside a conference room in a Madison Avenue office, with about 70 people pressed around a table, Cruz gave a candid assessment of the race, lumping Trump with Ben Carson. Cruz described both campaigns as having a “natural arch” with gravity “pulling them down” now. Carson’s descent, he added, has been faster, according to a person in the room
• A second attendee said he added: “Who is prepared to be a commander in chief? Who understands the threats we face? Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button? Now that’s a question of strength, but it’s also a question of judgment. And I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.” (Cruz rising = GOP freakout pending)
• Cruz on Thursday said he was “not going to comment on what I may or may not have said at a private fund-raiser.” “What I will say is this. In the course of a presidential election, the voters are going to make a decision about every candidate. And ultimately the decision is, who has the right judgment – experience and judgment – to serve as commander in chief?”


• Donald Trump commands the support of 35% of Republican primary voters, according to a new NYT/CBS News poll – fear of terrorism. Ted Cruz has 16%. Ben Carson has 13%. Yet nearly two-thirds of American voters say they’re concerned or frightened about the prospect of a Trump presidency – poll was taken before his Muslim comments on Monday (NYT)


Syrian Rebels Ready For Talks? (Reuters, me)
• A joint team of Syria’s political and armed opposition will meet the govt next month for talks seeking a political solution to nearly five years of conflict, the chairman of a Saudi-hosted opposition conference said today
• Delegates from Islamist insurgent groups, exiled political opposition figures and Damascus-based activists are aiming to bridge differences which have plagued previous attempts to unite President Assad’s opponents around a common strategy
• The powerful Islamist insurgent group, Ahrar al-Sham, said it pulled of out the meeting on Thursday because rebel proposals had been ignored. It objected to what it said was a prominent role given to the internal political opposition group, the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change. It said the NCB was considered a pro-Assad group
• A statement at the end of the conference said Assad should leave power at the start of a transitional period, and called for an all-inclusive, democratic civic state. It also committed to preserving state institutions. The opposition was willing to enter talks with Syrian govt reps and to accept a UN-supervised ceasefire, the statement said
• The meeting called on the UN to pressure the Syrian govt to make a series of confidence-building moves before peace talks start, including suspending death sentences against opponents, releasing prisoners and lifting sieges. They agreed to a political system which would not discriminate on religious or sectarian grounds


• Reps Scott Rigell (R-Va) and Peter Welch (D-Vt) on Thursday introduced a measure to authorize military force against ISIS, making it the first bipartisan and bicameral measure to do so. It would expire after three years unless reauthorized (Hill)


Pols Talk Visa Scrutiny (Hill, me)
• Lawmakers are taking an expanded look at the various programs allowing foreigners to come into the U.S., on the heels of new fears about the multiple ways that extremists might be able to slip into the country. Officials from the FBI, Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center briefed House members Thursday
• They discussed “the visa process, whether there are holes in that process that need to be plugged [and] some other ways that we can strengthen that process to prevent either the marriage visa or the fiancé visa or any other visa program to enter the country,” Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif) top Dem on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters
• Tashfeen Malik, the wife at the center of the San Bernardino rampage, came into the country on a K-1 visa from Pakistan. The Obama admin has already begun a review of that process and suggested on Thursday that action from Congress could help
• Before coming to the U.S., Malik underwent three separate interviews, House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) told reporters Thursday, after the briefing
• Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus would “absolutely” oppose the spending bill if it doesn’t include some reforms, such as changes to the visa waiver and refugee programs, Rep Dave Brat (R-Va), a member of the caucus, said. “I think the American people are just crying out for action on just commonsense, across the board everything.”
• Islamic militant groups ignored contact attempts by Tashfeen Malik in the months before she and her husband killed 14 people, probably because they feared getting caught in a U.S. law enforcement sting, U.S. govt sources said on Thursday. Also, an FBI dive team searched a small, urban lake 3 miles north of the shooting site  (Reuters)


Democrats Slam Scalia Over Race Remarks (Politico, Hill, me)
• Top Democrats are condemning Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for saying during arguments over affirmative action Wed that some people “contend it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school. a slower track school, where they do well”

• Rep John Lewis (R-Ga), a civil rights icon, said in a statement: “His suggestion that African Americans would fare better at schools that are “less advanced” or on a “slow track” remind me of the kind of prejudice that led to separate and unequal school systems – a policy the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional decades ago.”

• WH spox Josh Earnest said Thursday, “I think the comments articulated by Justice Scalia represent quite a different view than the priorities and values that President Obama has spent his career talking about.”
• Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said on the Senate floor, “These ideas that he pronounced yesterday are racist in application. It is deeply disturbing to hear a Supreme Court justice endorse racist ideas from the bench on the nation’s highest court.” As he relayed Scalia’s remarks, Reid used the word “racist” four times
• “Justice Scalia’s comments were disgusting, inaccurate, and insulting to African Americans, and his statements undervalue the historic achievements we have made,” said Rep G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus

• Stop thief! Police in London are searching for a man on a hoverboard who brazenly zoomed into a convenience store, hovered around a corner, casually swiped a crate of Lucozade, a yummy energy drink, and scarpered – still hovering, all in a few seconds. He required zero energy to do this, so not sure why he needed the Lucozade… (me, Mashable)


Gun Safety – Or Not – News (AP, NYT, Reuters, Reuters, me)
• President Obama’s advisers are finalizing a proposal that would expand background checks on gun sales without congressional approval. WH adviser Valeria Jarrett says Obama has asked his team to complete a proposal and submit it for his review “in short order.”
• Gov Dannel Malloy (D-Conn) announced Thursday that he intended to sign an executive order barring people on federal terrorism watch lists from buying firearms in the state. “Like all Americans, I have been horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, Malloy told reporters
• The federal govt’s terrorism watch list is a database maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center, an arm of the FBI. It fuses info gathered from many sources and is used for various purposes, including keeping certain people off planes or blocking certain noncitizens from entering the country. The no-fly list is a subset of the watch list – two lists
• Separately, House Republicans thwarted the latest attempt by Democrats on Thursday to force a vote on curbing gun purchases by suspected terrorists. By a near-party line vote of 242-173, the House turned aside an effort by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) to hold an immediate vote on legislation by Rep Peter King (R-NY)
• A University of Texas advisory committee has reluctantly recommended allowing handguns in classrooms when a state law goes into effect next year, saying Thursday it cannot bar the firearms under the state measure. The university could have gone to court to fight the measure

• It’s been a dark week: xenophobia, jingoism, racism, and fear. Let’s rock into the weekend with some hope. “Iron Sky” – live from Abbey Road – Paulo Nutini

Victoria Jones, Editor







Talk Media News provides breaking news coverage of domestic and world news to more than 400 radio stations across the United States.