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.

At least 8 killed, 100+ injured in head-on train crash in Germany – developing


Quick News
  • New Hampshire scramble: Let’s vote!
  • Trump calls Cruz “pussy”
  • Bloomberg weighing independent 2016 run
  • B-b-budget day – with GOP snub
  • Obama wants $1.8bn for Zika: DHHS to brief Hill
  • Syrians running for their lives
  • Syrians shocked: Where is USA?
  • DOJ, DHS probe hack of employee data
New Hampshire Scramble: Let’s Vote! (AP, Hill, me)
• Eyeing their first wins in a capricious campaign, Republican Donald Trump lashed out (as usual) at his opponents Monday while Democrat Bernie Sanders sought to play it safe on the eve of the nation’s initial primary. GOP contenders vying for second and third saw fresh hopes for survival after New Hampshire
• As snowfall brought yet more uncertainty, Hillary Clinton tried to move past talk of a shakeup in her campaign and controversy over comments by supporters that women should feel obliged to vote for her. She barnstormed New Hampshire, claiming that Sanders, too, had taken big bucks from Wall Street – if only indirectly (get some originality – shakeup might be a good thing)
• Donald Trump’s daily outrages included telling a man at an event that he would be able to “look at these
[Syrian] children,” “I can look in their faces and say, ‘You can’t come here.'” (hideously cruel) Plus, saying in a talk radio interview that maybe President Obama “doesn’t want to get rid of the [ISIS] problem. I don’t know exactly what’s going on.” (yes you do)
• Trump also continued his harsh verbal assaults on Jeb Bush. “Jeb is having some kind of breakdown, I think,” Trump told CNN, calling Bush, the son and brother of presidents, a spoiled child and an embarrassment to his family. “I think it’s a very sad situation that’s taking place.”
• The enmity was mutual. Bush described his opponent variably as a loser, a liar, a whiner and the worst choice for president. He blasted what he said was Trump’s proclivity for “insulting women, castigating Hispanics, ridiculing he disables and calling American POWs losers.” (Bush is on a tear – a glimpse of a fighting candidate)


• Dixville Notch, NH – midnight: Bernie Sanders won for the Democrats, with four votes – Hillary Clinton netted zero. John Kasich sneaked past Donald Trump 3-2.. Hart’s Location: Kasich –  five out of 14, followed by Trump. For the Dems, Sanders took 12, Clinton seven. Millsfield: Ted Cruz nine, Trump three. Clinton two, Sanders one (Politico)
Trump Calls Cruz “Pussy”
• Trump got a shot in at Ted Cruz during a massive rally in Manchester Monday night. When an audience member shouted out an insult directed at Cruz – a “pussy” – Trump said it was a term you weren’t allowed to say – and then gleefully repeated it, jokingly reprimanding the woman. Cruz spox Rick Tyler via email: “Let’s not forget who whipped who in Iowa.”
• Marco Rubio insisted his repetitions of rote talking points in Saturday’s debate were part of a plan – and then repeated them. It seemed all the GOP candidates launched attack ads Monday. Everyone filled their calendars with campaign events in South Carolina, the next state to vote – signaling nobody’s dropping out no matter the verdict in New Hampshire
• Clinton was shouldering renewed troubles amid talk of a possible campaign reshuffling. The former first lady insisted it was all overblown. “I have no idea what they’re talking about or who they are talking to,” Clinton said on MSNBC. “We’re going to take stock, but it’s going to be the campaign that I’ve got.” (which sounds pretty chaotic)
• Sanders, wary of upsetting a race trending his way, stuck to core campaign themes as he addressed cheering supporters in Nashua. In recent days Bill Clinton has accused some Sanders’ supporters of waging “sexist” attacks (which they have), and feminist Gloria Steinem and former secstate Madeleine Albright have criticized women who aren’t supporting Clinton
• But Sanders’ campaign did take issue with Clinton’s claim that Sanders benefited from Wall Street money donated to Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, with campaign manager Jeff Weaver arguing it “suggests the kind of disarray that the Clinton campaign finds itself in today.”
• Graphic: Which states Cruz, Trump and Rubio need to win (NYT)


Bloomberg Weighing Independent 2016 Run (FT, NYT, me)
• Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former mayor of New York City, confirmed in a Financial Times interview that he was actively weighing an independent campaign for president in 2016. Aides acting on his instructions have already drawn up detailed plans for a possible campaign, including spending as much as $1 billion of his fortune
• Bloomberg said he was “looking at all the options” in the election and lamented the state of the race. “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg said, adding that the American public deserved “a lot better.”
• Bloomberg’s aides said he intended to make a final call on the presidential race by early March, and planned to take a fresh round of polling after the New Hampshire primary to gauge the viability of a campaign, Many experts believe he would help the GOP nominee by drawing support from Democrats because of his positions on guns and the environment
• But Bloomberg could face a steep climb. A poll conducted by his own news organization and the Des Moines Register ahead of the Iowa caucuses found that only 9% of Republicans had a favorable view of him, while 17% of likely Democratic voters in the state had a favorable opinion


• AG Loretta Lynch is reaffirming that the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secstate is free of outside political influence and conducted by career lawyers looking at the facts and evidence. Republicans have suggested that contributions Lynch has given to Democrats mean she cannot be impartial in the investigation (AP, me)

B-B-Budget Day – With GOP Snub (Politico, Hill, Politico, NYT, Reuters, me)

• President Obama will propose a sweepingly progressive $4 trillion budget request to Congress today that includes a $10–a-barrel oil tax, an expensive Medicaid expansion, a $4 billion initiative to promote computer science in schools and the first down payment on a “moon shot” research initiative to cure cancer (among other things)

• Never mind that the GOP-led Congress, in a break with tradition, said it won’t even hold hearings with the president’s budget director on this year’s request. That’s because it “will continue to focus on new spending proposals” instead of tackling “our $19 trillion in debt,” Senate Budget Committee chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo) said last week

• Monday, 14 Democrats on the House Budget Committee signed a letter calling the snub “disrespectful to the committee members, the public and the president.” “Maybe they’re [Republicans] taking the Donald Trump approach to debates about the budget – they’re just not going to show up,” WH spox Josh Earnest said last week

• William Hoagland, who was the GOP staff director at the Senate Budget Committee for much of the 80s and 90s and is senior VP of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said he couldn’t remember a single year since the 70s when a president’s budget director wasn’t invited to testify. Obama will huddle with Democratic leaders today on the budget

• The rebuff of budget director Shaun Donovan was at odds with the civility that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) has sought, going back to his time as House Budget Committee chair. A senior adviser to Ryan said the speaker was informed before the committee chair issued the statement, “but we support the chairman.”


Obama Wants $1.8bn for Zika: Burwell to Brief Hill (AP, Roll Call, me)

• President Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says “there shouldn’t be a panic on this.” “What we now know is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women and women who are thinking about having a baby.”

• The virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America. While most people experience either mild or no symptoms, Zika is suspected of causing a devastating birth defect – babies born with abnormally small heads – pregnant Americans are urged to avoid travel to affected areas (nobody seems to know why this is happening now – when the virus has been around since 1947)

• U.S. health officials say the money is critical for research into the birth defect known as microcephaly. They also want to speed development of a vaccine and better diagnostic tests, and expand mosquito control programs. Some of the money would also aid Zika-stricken countries and territories

• The admin is seeking the Zika money separately from the regular budget for the next fiscal year. Dept of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is set to brief Senate leaders and relevant committee leaders today on the virus. The World Health Organization last week declared the virus a global health emergency

• “The two areas where we’ll want to get a better understanding at the briefing: Number one, what are the preparations being made to protect Americans? Number two, what are the admin’s funding priorities given limited federal resources,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said on the Senate floor Monday


Syrians Running For Their Lives (NYT, me)

• Tens of thousands of Syrians running for their lives piled up near the border crossing with Kilis, Turkey, on Monday. They were fleeing a crushing wave of Russian airstrikes and govt ground forces advancing towards the frontier in a developing rout of insurgent forces north of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city (this is a disaster)

• The intense and, critics say, indiscriminate Russian air attacks have shattered the latest round of peace talks, forced the regional and global players to reassess their strategies and calculations and left Syrian insurgents shocked that the U.S. and other countries that have supported them appear unable or unwilling to reverse the battlefield momentum (latter…)

• And the potentially decisive turn in Syria’s nearly five-year civil war comes against the backdrop of a deepening humanitarian crisis that was reinforced on Monday by a UN report that accused Damascus of “inhuman actions” against Syrian civilians on a scale that “amounts to extermination.”

• For their part, the Turks were refusing to open their border, in part, analysts said, to pressure the U.S. to finally grant their longstanding wish of establishing a buffer zone inside Syria where civilians would be safe from Syrian govt and Russian airstrikes


Syrians Shocked: Where Is USA? (NYT, me)

• Washington said last summer that it would work with Turkey to build what it called an “Islamic State-free zone,” in the same area that’s now being squeezed. But the plans never materialized, and since then, Russia’s intervention makes the notion of a no-fly zone over any part of Syria that much trickier (ie someone shoots somebody down)

• Events were moving so quickly on the ground that some Syrians opposed to the govt were beginning to speak of defeat, at least in Aleppo Province. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have expressed a willingness to send in ground troops, but to date there appear to be few concrete plans for an intervention in the near future (meanwhile…)

• Running through it all was a sense of incredulity. The few Syrians who had made it to Turkey – because of critical injuries – expressed shock that the U.S., which has called for the removal of President Assad, wasn’t responding more concertedly, either militarily or diplomatically. Mahmoud al-Dik, a farmer and father of three with a pregnant wife, sat up in his hospital bed:

• “Obama has been saying every day that Bashar al-Assad is finished. But we are the ones who are being finished, not Bashar al-Assad.” Then he addressed “the American administration, both Republicans and Democrats,” saying: “Stop the lies and hypocrisy. Stop lying to the poor and weak. That’s all.”

• A federal judge Monday again ruled against Texas in its efforts to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, saying state officials have never shown an imminent danger to the public: “Somewhat ironically, Texas, perhaps the reddest of red states, asks a federal court to stick its judicial nose into this political morass, where it does not belong absent statutory authorization.” (AP)

DOJ, DHS Probe Hack of Employee Data (Reuters, Hill, me)
• The Dept of Homeland Security and the Justice Dept are investigating a claim that personal data related to thousands of DHS and FBI employees was hacked and has been dumped online, an agency spox said on Monday
• The tech site Motherboard reported on Sunday that a hacker, who Motherboard said wished to remain anonymous, intended to dump onto the internet names, job titles, email addresses and official phone numbers of over 9,000 DHS employees and another 20,000 FBI workers
• The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant media activity, on Monday said a pro-Palestinian Twitter account on Sunday had posted a link to a doc that contained 9,372 purported DHS employees’ data. The account tweeted Monday: “I think the government can hear #FreePalestine now hahhaha”
• SITE said the hack bore a strong resemblance to earlier breaches attributed to a group called “Crackas with Attitude” (teenagers) which had been credited with attacks targeting CIA director John Brennan, FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano and the Miami Police

• Former NYC mayor and (utterly failed) GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani slammed Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance Monday on Fox. He objected to her nod to the Black Panthers. “You’re talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl. Let’s have, you know, decent wholesome entertainment.” (think he means non-threatening to white America)

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Victoria Jones – Editor