TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
News Now

  • Ben Carson: No Muslim for president
  • US may abstain on UN Cuba embargo vote
  • Conservatives vs GOP leadership = shutdown?
  • Secret Service boots cancer children from park near WH
  • Papal adviser: Visit not American politics
  • Clinton vs Sanders at NH convention
  • Kerry: Lotsa lotsa refugees
  • Emmys 2015: Barriers fall
Ben Carson: No Muslim For President (WaPo, AP, Hill, Huffington Post, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that. Pressed on whether he believes Islam is consistent with the Constitution: “No, I don’t, I do not.” He said he believes President Obama is a Christian (phew)
• Carson doubled down in an interview with The Hill, saying who takes the WH should be “sworn in on a stack Bibles, not a Qu’ran.”  “I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country. Muslims feel that their religion is very much part of your public life and what you do as a public official and that’s inconsistent with our principles and Constitution.”
• Carson said the only exception he’d make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tents of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that. Then I wouldn’t have any problems.” (totally prejudiced and weird to assume that an American born Muslim would want to impose Sharia law for the U.S.)
• Carson often mentioned “Taqiya,” a practice in Shia Islam in which a Muslim can deny his faith or conceal her religion when under threat of significant persecution or compulsion. “Taqiya ia a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson said (sadly misleading or ignorant misinterpretation which will be believed)


• Carson, in making his “argument” for not allowing a Muslim in the WH, seems to make a pretty good argument against anyone of any religion in the WH if their religion rules them. And why should a president be “sworn in on a stack Bibles?” Religious litmus test for the presidency? Not so much, according to my understanding – me
• Also on NBC Sunday, Donald Trump said that a Muslim in the WH is “something that could happen… Some people have said that it already happened, frankly.” He refused to say whether he believes President Obama was born in the U.S. “I talk about jobs, I’m talking about the military – – I don’t get into it,” Trump said on ABC (Trump’s gone Full Birther, now)
• Trump didn’t challenge a man, who was the first person he called on at a town hall in Rochester, NH, Thursday night. “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” the man said. “We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”
• Ibrahim Hooper, spox for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, said of Carson, “To me this really means he is not qualified to be president of the U.S. You cannot hold these kinds of views and at the same time say you will represent all Americans, of all faiths and backgrounds.”
• Separately on NBC Sunday, GOP 2016er Gov John Kasich (Ohio) addressed the question of a Muslim in the WH. “For me, the most important thing about being president is you have leadership skills, you know what you’re doing and you can help fix this country and raise this country.”


• Trump’s rampant birtherism on Sunday was overshadowed by Carson’s ghastly Muslim comments, but shouldn’t get a pass. Trump’s comments were as snide and snarky as he could make them, setting up a straw man argument that he could wriggle out of, but dog whistling to his cult followers. Disgusting and completely unsurprising – me
• GOP 2016er Sen Lindsey Graham (SC) tweeted Sunday: “@RealBenCarson is not ready to be Commander-In-Chief. America is an idea, not owned by a particular religion.” “I just think it’s hard for us. We were attacked by people who were all Muslim,” said Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) on CBS
• Rep Keith Ellison (D-Minn), the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, said in a statement: “It’s unimaginable that the leading GOP presidential candidates are resorting to fear mongering to benefit their campaigns, and every American should be disturbed that these national figures are engaging in and tolerating blatant acts of religious liberty.”
• Democratic 2016er Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said in a statement that he was disappointed and “It took us too long to overcome the prejudice against electing a Catholic or an African-American president. People should be elected to office based on their ideas, not their religion or the color of their skin.”
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday, asked simply whether or not he believed Obama was Christian, dodged. “The president’s faith is between him and God. I’m not going to speculate on the president’s faith. What I will talk about is his policies.” (Obama has spoken openly – to actual human beings – about his Christian faith)


• California fire officials said the total number of homes destroyed in two wildfires burning in Northern California is nearly 1,600. Those fires killed five people and on Sunday authorities announced that another body had been found in the ashes of a wildfire. About 6,500 homes remain threatened by the fire (AP)
US May Abstain on UN Cuba Embargo Vote (AP, me)
• U.S. officials tell AP that the Obama admin is weighing abstaining from the annual UN General Assembly vote on a Cuban-backed resolution demanding that the embargo be lifted. The vote could come next month. It’s unheard of for a UN member state not to oppose resolutions critical of its own laws
• No decision has yet been made and the U.S. is still more likely to vote against than abstain, said four anonymous admin officials. But merely considering an abstention in unprecedented. Following through on the idea would send shock waves through both the UN and Congress (sh#t storm approacheth)
• And by not actively opposing the resolution, the admin would be effectively siding with the world body against Congress, which has refused to repeal the embargo despite calls from President Obama to do so. Republicans would go ballistic, as would GOP presidential candidates (oh come on, it’s a gift)
• Obama has been urging Congress to scrap the 54-year-old embargo since December, when he announced that Washington and Havana would normalize diplomatic relations. The two countries have re-opened embassies but the embargo stands
• The latest easing of sanctions occurred Friday and was followed by a rare phone call between Obama and Cuban President Raoul Castro. Pope Francis, who played a key role in the rapprochement between Havana and DC, arrived in Havana a day later. He arrives in the U.S. on Tuesday
• Donald Trump leads the 2016 GOP pack with 24% in a new post-debate CNN/ORC poll, a drop from 32% earlier this month. Carly Fiorina surges into second place with 15%. Ben Carson has 14%, Marco Rubio has 11%. Jeb Bush has 9%. Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee have 6%. Rand Paul has 4%. Scott Walker has less than 1% (Politico)
Conservatives vs GOP Leadership = Govt Shutdown? (Politico, TRNS, me)
• Republican leaders who are eyeing a rarely deployed, fast track budget procedure as a way to defund Planned Parenthood and stave off a govt shutdown appear to be in for a rude awakening. The plan is to placate conservatives by giving them  a way to pass legislation to defund PP and decouple the issue from the entire federal budget (fakeout…)
• But conservatives are balking at the proposal to use the majority-vote reconciliation process, calling it a “ruse” that would leave PP’s federal funding intact and amount to a feel-good exercise. And President Obama would veto it (they’re right, it’s stuffing a pacifier in their mouths and their spitting it out)
• Conservatives say the reconciliation plan, floated to House and Senate Republicans in closed door sessions last week, wouldn’t force Obama to the negotiating table like a govt shutdown – or the threat of one – would. And they want to defund PP, which is at the center of accusations that the organization unlawfully sold fetal tissue
• Tick tock: Congress must pass a short term funding bill by 30 Sept, when govt funding will run dry. The House in recent days held a series of votes on anti-abortion bills, but they’re all expected to stall in the Senate, with its 60-vote threshold and need for Democratic support
• It’s not even clear whether they can use reconciliation because of budget rules that require its prime target to be deficit reduction, not social policy issues. Although a repeal of PP funding would save a small amount of money, the Senate parliamentarian could rule the savings to be a mere side effect rather than an actual money-saver – blocking the entire plan
• House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said this weekend of the House Freedom Caucus members who are most upset with him, “I don’t think they understand I’m as conservative as they are. When I voted regularly, I had the most conservative voting record in Congress.” There’s a move to oust Boehner as speaker (Politico, me)


Secret Service Boots Cancer Children From Park Near WH (WaPo, me)
• The Secret Service and Park Police ordered hundreds of parents and their cancer-stricken children out of Lafayette Square Saturday night, barricading the park for at least two hours and disrupting the group’s plans for a candlelight vigil to raise awareness and research funding for childhood cancer, participants said (PR disaster 101)
• “We ended up waiting at the gates for two hours, and they never let us in,” said Canadian Natasha Gould, 11, who started a blog after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor this year. “And to be clear, the entire crowd was half kids. I cried last night in my hotel room because this was my first CureFest.” (getting worse)
• Public information officers for the Secret Service and Park Police weren’t able to comment immediately (I’ll bet). Closures of the square have occurred periodically since 9/11 and security incidents at the WH. Organizers had obtained a permit to hold “A Night of Golden Lights” in which participants would light electric candles


Sick Children Cried
• But as the closure dragged on, some of the sick children, fatigued by the wait or the need to receive medication, had to return to their hotel rooms, organizers said. Others began crying, and some parents became enraged. Attendees said the group of at least 700 weren’t allowed access to personal items they left behind (OMG really?)
• Police officers and agents on the scene told some parents that the closure was necessary because President Obama had left the WH from an entrance near the square to address the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual gala. (#scapegoat)  Some parents saw the closure as perhaps driven by the agency’s embarrassment over high-profile security lapses (errr)
• The candlelight vigil came about partly because of the group’s inability to persuade the WH to light up the mansion in gold as a symbol of support for the cause, as it has done for other causes, organizers said. (ouch) So they decided to hold a candlelight vigil of their own. Last year was the first

• They had a permit. They had already set up a stage, said Anthony Stoddard, a New Hampshire resident, who, after the death of his 5-year-old son, launched an initiative to light public buildings in gold as a show of support for children who have cancer. “Finally, about 10:30, we gave up. It was heartbreaking.”

• Greece’s Alexis Tsipras says his left-wing Syriza party has a “clear mandate” after winning a second general election in less than nine months. Syriza won more than 35% and will form a coalition with nationalist Independent Greeks. The election was called after Syriza lost its majority following the signing of a new financial bailout deal in August (BBC)
Papal Adviser: Visit Not American Politics (Hill, Hill, TPM, AP, TRNS, me)
• Father Thomas Rosica, an adviser to the Vatican, said on Fox News Sunday he expects Pope Francis to avoid getting involved in political disputes during his U.S. trip this week. “The backdrop of this whole visit is not what’s happening in American politics or a presidential campaign.” (well, actually it is from the myopic point of the view of U.S. pols)
• Rosica called Francis a “real prince of peace.” Too late for Rep Paul Gosar (R-Ariz), a Catholic, who announced last week that he’ll boycott the pope’s address to Congress in apparent mortal terror he’ll talk about climate change. He’d prefer the pontiff speak on the “persecution of Christians,” and won’t act like a “leftist politician” with “socialist talking points” (Gosar=God)
• Pope Francis met with Fidel Castro on Sunday after urging thousands of Cubans to serve one another and not an ideology, delivering a subtle jab at the communist system during a Mass celebrated under the gaze of an image of Che Guevara in Havana’s iconic Revolution Plaza. Francis and Castro discussed the big issues facing humanity, the Vatican said
• At the Mass, Francis told the crowd: “Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it.” Maria Regla Gonzalez, 57, a teacher, said: “This is a crucial moment and the pope’s support for us is very important. He made a call for unity, and that’s what we want.”
• Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC) on Sunday urged Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) to re-read the Sermon on the Mount. Rubio had earlier disputed Francis’s authority on economic and political issues. “Clearly, the core of Catholic teachings and Christian teachings talks about the economic realities that people face and has for thousands of years,” de Blasio said on ABC
• The Obama admin has been quietly in touch with the Vatican about ways that Pope Francis can help free three Americans imprisoned in Iran – a major source of friction as President Obama and Iranian leaders finalize their nuclear deal. The Vatican has an embassy in Tehran and the pope met recently with Iranian women politicians (Politico)
Clinton vs Sanders at NH Convention (NYT, Hill, me)
• Hillary Clinton on Saturday highlighted recent endorsements from New Hampshire’s Den governor, Maggie Hassan, and Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen, and turned to county leaders for help in fighting the surging campaign of Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), who holds a steady lead over her in state opinion polls
• It was Sanders who received more ecstatic cheers from the huge crowd, as he denounced big banks, trade deals, tax breaks for the wealthy and “super PACs” like the one supporting Clinton. “Well, it certainly sounds like some people are ready for a political revolution,” Sanders said to shouts of “We love you, Bernie!”
• Clinton received a standing ovation and cheers. She added Donald Trump’s birther controversy to her stump speech. “He’s been trafficking in prejudice and paranoia throughout this campaign, but I got to tell you if you look at the policies of the other Republican candidates, they are just Trump without the pizzaz or the hair.”
• Scores in the audience heckled Democratic National Committee chair Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla) over the party’s decision to limit debates to six. At points they nearly drowned her out with “More debates” and “We want debates” so that she went off script, saying, “Let’s focus on our task at hand.” (they think that is the task)
• Former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-MD), who has led the call for more debates, drew a huge ovation when he called Trump “that racist, anti-immigrant carnival barker.” At a presser later, he noted the NH debate was scheduled for the Saturday before Christmas, when voters might be shopping  and not inclined to watch (ya think?)
• Or so she says… “I am a real person!” claims Hillary Clinton on Face the Nation on Sunday (Vine – Free Beacon)

Kerry: Lotsa Lotsa Refugees (AP, Politico, WSJ, me)

• SecState John Kerry announced Sunday that the U.S. will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world next year, up from 70,000 and that total would rise to 100,000 in 2017. Kerry spoke at a presser with German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier after the two discussed the mass migration of Syrians fleeing their civil war (GOP heads explode)

• Many, though not all, of the additional refugees would be Syrian, American officials have said. Others would come from strife-torn areas of Africa. Asked why the U.S. couldn’t take more, Kerry cited post-Sept 11 screening requirements and a lack of money made available by Congress. Republican lawmakers weren’t happy

• ISIS and other terror groups “have made it abundantly clear that they will use the refugee crisis to try to enter the U.S. Now the Obama admin wants to bring in an additional 10,000 Syrians without a concrete and foolproof plan to ensure that terrorists won’t be able to enter the country,” said Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) – judiciary chairs

• Congressional approval isn’t required for the Obama admin to expand resettlement slots, though Congress would have to appropriate money for the additional effort. Democratic 2016er Hillary Clinton called for the U.S. to jump from 10,000 to 65,000 Syrian refugees with additional vetting mechanisms

• Kerry said the migrant crisis must ultimately be solved by ending Syria’s civil war and replacing President Assad. Kerry made clear the U.S. was willing to negotiate the terms of Assad’s exit with Russia, which is backing his govt with a recent military buildup


• After holding out hope Saturday that Russia could help the U.S. fight ISIS, Kerry took a tougher line Sunday, saying that he and the German FM agreed that “support for the

[Syrian] regime by Russia, or by any other country, risks exacerbating the conflict … and only hinders future cooperation toward a successful transition.” (AP)


Emmys 2015: Barriers Fall (NYT, AP, me)

• A night of firsts on Fox. Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best lead actress on a drama series, ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder (yaaay), Jon Hamm finally won for Mad Men (yaaay) and HBO’s Game of Thrones overcame voter’s anti-fantasy prejudice to snare the most trophies ever in a season (yaaay)

• Davis quoted Harriet Tubman.  “Let me tell you something. The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” African-American actresses Uzo Aduba and Regina King won for supporting performances

• Mad Men star Hamm bypassed the stairs to the stage, scrambling onto it on his stomach. “There has been a terrible mistake, clearly,” he said, accepted the award which he’d missed out on seven times. Transparent was an early winner, capturing a best comedy actor trophy for Jeffrey Tambor, who dedicated his award to the transgender community

• HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, about a grumpy math teacher and her forgiving husband in Maine, won six trophies in the limited series category, including leading acting honors for Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins and a supporting award for Bill Murray

• Host Andy Samberg, who was actually funny, noted that HBO had shown no interest in policing how people share passwords for their HBO Go and HBO Now apps (they sure will now…) Samberg then posted a login – – and password (password1) for his HBO Now account, and invited everyone without cable to use it

• Hot Hot Hot! It was, like, dudes, 100 degrees or something, whatever. The 2015 Emmys were the hottest ever – all the heat you can take, including the white-hot pic of Mario Lopez’s sweat-soaked shirt (Buzzfeed, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Anthony Herrera, Ebony Romero and Washington Desk contributed to this report


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