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.


North Korea fired what appeared to have been an intermediate ballistic missile today, but it crashed seconds after the test launch, South Korea’s defense ministry said, the second such failure this month (Reuters)
Quick News

  • Look at that face! Cruz <3 Fiorina
  • Trump policy speech: Flat, vague
  • Sanders lays off “hundreds” of staffers
  • Spending bill in trouble: Iran amendment
  • 419-0! House passes email privacy bill
  • Hastert gets 15 months: Sex abuse
Look at That Face! Cruz <3 Fiorina (Politico, AP, HuffPo, me)
• Trailing Donald Trump by nearly 400 delegates after a string of defeats in the Northeast, Ted Cruz went big: he named a vice president Wednesday. In tapping former tech exec and failed GOP 2016er Carly Fiorina, the Cruz campaign hopes to shake up a hardening political narrative of Trump’s inevitability, stem the bleeding, and lift his fortunes in coming contests (good luck)

• It was a bid for a game-changing moment – and a not-so-tacit acknowledgement that, unless something significant in the game changed, Cruz was headed for defeat. It’s highly unusual for a candidate who is trailing to name a running mate. And coming after lopsided losses and ahead of must-win Indiana, some said the maneuver had more than a whiff of desperation

• “After a great deal of consideration and prayer, I have come to the conclusion that if I am nominated to be president of the U.S., I will run on a ticket with my vice presidential nominee, Carly Fiorina,” Cruz declared in Indianapolis at an event carried live by all the cable nets
• “This is the fight of our time. And I believe Ted Cruz is the man to lead that fight,” Fiorina said. “And I am prepared to stand by his side and give this everything I have, to restore the soul of the party, to defeat Donald Trump, to defeat Hillary Clinton, and to take our country back.” (from whom – Obama? he’s not keeping it. so, who, exactly? we’re never told)
• “Carly is not going to do the trick,” Trump said on CBS. “Nice person but she never resonated.” (this from “Look at that face! Would you vote for that?”) Democrats quickly attacked the alliance. “The best way to describe that ticket is mean and meaner,” said Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), who beat Fiorina for Senate in 2010 (bit mean)


• Throughout her presidential bid, Fiorina emphasized her meteoric rise in the business world. A Stanford grad, she started as a secretary, earned an MBA and worked her way up. She ended at Hewlett-Packard as CEO. She was fired six years later, after leading a major merger with Compaq and firing 30,000 workers (but got a yuuuuge golden parachute)
Trump Speech: Bit Vague (Hill, AP, me)
• Donald Trump delivered a foreign policy address Wednesday and outlined a doctrine that he said would put American interests first, leaving allies to fend for themselves if they don’t contribute financially to back up security agreements. He also vowed to send more troops into combat only as a last resort, a break from years of hawkish GOP foreign policy
• “Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction,” Trump declared in an address that was heavy on broad statements about U.S. strength and light on specific policy details. Unlike his rambunctious, free-wheeling rallies, Trump read prepared remarks off a teleprompter (very flat when he’s not ranting and raving. needed a few punch-ups)
• Trump used the address to target Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. He assailed her for her handling of the deadly 2012 attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and said that during her tenure as SecState, the U.S. had a “reckless, rudderless and aimless foreign policy.” (whereas still not sure what his is)
• Trump hammered Obama’s legacy: “If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job,” he said. Trump himself, however, offered few specific remedies. “ISIS will be gone if I am president. They will be gone quickly,” he insisted at one point, without outlining precisely (or even vaguely) how (boo, off you go)
• A Trump admin would use its “economic power” over China to force it to “do what they have to do with North Korea,” he added.(the “weakened” U.S., he means?)  At multiple points, Trump’s prescription for elevating American stature around the world was to force new diplomatic negotiations and “be willing to walk” if the U.S. doesn’t get what it came for (bit tantrum-ish)

• #Tan-ZAYN-ia went viral Wednesday – Watch Donald Trump say it. In his “foreign policy” speech Wednesday. As WH spox Josh Earnest snarked, “Apparently, the phonetics are not included on the teleprompter.” Harsh, Josh. Be fair, it might have been the first time Donnie had ever said the country’s name


Sanders Lays Off “Hundreds” of Staffers (WSJ, NYT, me)
• The Bernie Sanders campaign is laying off hundreds of field staffers after a tough stretch in which he lost five of the last six nominating contests. Sanders still has staff deployed in states that vote over the next two months, including more than 40 in California, But his campaign will finish out with 325-350 down from more than 1,000, the campaign said (makes tactical sense)
• The Sanders team is reassessing its prospects after four losses on Tuesday. As recently as mid-April Sanders aides believed the Vermont senator still had a chance to erase Hillary Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates. They no longer believe that’s the case. An AP tally shows Clinton leading by 333 pledged delegates
• “We all recognize the degree of difficulty has increased with the results,” Tad Devine, a senior Sanders strategist, said of Tuesday’s elections. “But we’re pretty set on the course here. He’ll be in this thing, and we believe we can narrow the gap in pledged delegates significantly. But I’m not going to confidently predict we’ll surpass her.” (this is a shift)
• What hopes Sanders has of capturing the nomination may rest on persuading hundreds of superdelegates – who say they’re backing Clinton – that they should abandon her on the argument that he would make the stronger general election candidate. Sanders told a rally in Indiana on Wed that he would be the stronger to defeat Donald Trump or “any other Republican nominee.”
• Larry Cohen, a Sanders adviser, said the campaign is pressing forward in hopes of winning delegates and influence at the convention. He predicted Sanders would win most of the remaining 14 contests and said Sanders would take a range of demands to the convention, for a “more populist and less corporate” Democratic Party (Clinton would be smart to listen)


• Bernie in a tux! Bernie Sanders will be attending the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday Night as a guest of CBS News. Aretha Franklin and Morgan Freeman also accepted invitations. For all those clamoring to know, I’ll be wearing a very fetching, curve-hugging blue gown – or I might wear gold – stay tuned
Spending Bill in Trouble: Iran Amendment (Hill, NYT, Politico, Reuters, me)
• The first appropriations bill taken up this year by the Senate – supposed to be new spirit of bipartisanship on financing yadayada – crashed and burned Wednesday because of a fight over an 11th-hour GOP amendment stopping the Obama admin from buying heavy water from Iran. By 50-46 votes, Dems and four Republicans blocked the 2017 energy bill
• The WH had warned Congress that it strongly opposed any move to prevent the planned purchase of $8.6 million of heavy water. Heavy water is a non-radioactive component for making nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Under the nuclear deal, Iran is responsible for reducing its stock of the water. The amendment was put in by Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark), a huge foe of the deal
• “Sen Cotton’s amendment is the definition of a poison pill and will trigger a presidential veto,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said in a statement. “For the appropriations process to continue productively, Sen McConnell needs to find a way to stop being blindsided by his fellow Republicans.” (i suspect Cotton drives leadership up the wall)
• Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), appearing uncharacteristically livid, took to the floor. “I think we have come up with yet another definition of obstruction today,” he said, and accused Democrats of finding “a new way to blow up the appropriations process.” “This is a ridiculous place for the Senate to be. Ridiculous.” (wonder if he wanted to glare at Cottontail)
• WH spox Josh Earnest, at the briefing, tore into Cotton. “Sen Cotton is certainly no expert when it comes to heavy water. I’m confident that he couldn’t differentiate heavy water form sparkling water. His focus is on undermining the effective implementation of this agreement.” (ouch) Cotton tweeted back that amendment was to “stop US dollars from going to Iran.”


• The House Armed Services Committee approved a measure Wednesday requiring women to register for the military draft, not long after the Pentagon said women could serve on front-line combat units. Rep Duncan Hunter (R-Calif), the amendment’s author and a former Marine, voted against his own measure. OK then (AP, me)
419-0! House Passes Email Privacy Bill (Hill, Reuters, me)
• All together now. The House on Wednesday unanimously passed an email privacy bill that the tech industry and advocates had pushed for years. The Email Privacy Act had the most public backers of any bill in Congress, and it passed 419-0. Attention now turns to the Senate. Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) hasn’t advanced a similar bill out of committee (here we go)
• The bill closes off a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to ensure that law enforcement gets a warrant before forcing tech companies to hand over customers’ emails or other electronic communications – no matter how old they are – and that’s the key
• Though the outdated provision is no longer used by most agencies, the law technically allows law enforcement to use a subpoena – rather than a warrant – to get emails if they’re more than 180 days old. “In 1986 … a search engine was called a library, tweets were the sounds made by birds in the trees,” House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) said
• The bill was stalled for years as civil enforcement agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission asked for carve-outs. The bill wouldn’t change law enforcement’s ability to subpoena individual targets of an investigation for emails or other electronic communications (Grassley is pro law enforcement on this. a bit dubious)


• If you’re not watching “The Night Manager,” a 6-part miniseries on AMC, based on a John Le Carré spy novel, you’re missing out on the best thing on TV right now. Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston. You can catch up. I’m not linking to the trailer – gives waaay too much away

Hastert Gets 15 Months: Sex Abuse (Reuters, NYT, me)

• Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill), 74, once one of this nation’s most powerful politicians and the longest serving GOP speaker in history, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for a financial crime related to his sexual abuse of high school wrestlers years ago (he was holier than thou when he was in the House)

• District Court Judge Thomas Durkin called Hastert a “serial child molester” in handing down the sentence. Durkin pointed out the vulnerability of Hastert’s young victims, and said they had been damaged for years. “If there’s a public shaming of the defendant because of the conduct he’s engaged in, so be it,” he said

• Frail and in a wheelchair, Hastert acknowledged he sexually abused boys when he was a teacher and coach in his hometown of Yorkville, Ill. “I’m sorry to those I hurt and misled. I wanted to apologize for the boys I mistreated,” Hastert told the judge. Durkin asked if he acknowledged sexual abuse of his victims and Hastert said he did (had to be pushed to admit sex though)


• Hastert, who went on to become a successful lobbyist, last October pleaded guilty to restructuring, which is withdrawing a large sum of money in small increments to avoid detection. He needed the cash after he reached a secret agreement with one of his five victims to pay him $3.5 million in compensation for pain and suffering (that victim has now sued Hastert for the remainder)

• The judge said that even though Hastert couldn’t be charged with sex abuse because the statute of limitations had run out, “Some conduct is unforgivable no matter how old it is.” Durkin said an aggravating factor was that Hastert lied to federal agents about the money and falsely claimed that the victim was extorting him – he also gets two years of probation and sex-offender treatment

• Scott Cross, one of Hastert’s victims, spoke during the hearing. It was the first time that any of his victims has spoken publicly. He described being sexually abused as he lay on a locker room training table decades ago, aged 17. Stopping once to compose himself, he said, “I felt intense pain, shame and guilt” and had gone years without speaking of what had happened


Trailer! Oliver Stone’s movie about govt leaker Edward Snowden was released Wednesday, months before the 16 September release date. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden. Looks gooood

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Victoria Jones – Editor