Power missed Syria session for personal trip

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Buzz Cut:
• Power missed Syria session for personal trip

• Obama bus bound for Scranton
• Grounded: Airline takes $100 million ObamaCare hit
• Uncle Sam sways Virginia vote
• What’s Klingon for ‘Are you hiring?’

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS SAMANTHA POWER? - UN Ambassador Samantha Power was on a personal trip when she missed this week’s emergency Security Council meeting on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, U.N. diplomats have told Fox News. Power, who tweeted a call for U.N. action after news broke of the gas attack and has long advocated military intervention in the ongoing Syrian civil war, was said to be in a location where no travel arrangements could be made.

Undercut - Power’s hawkish stance on Syria and the Obama administration’s argument for the UN’s centrality to addressing Syria are both damaged by the fact that Power opted to be away from Turtle Bay as the Syria struggle continued to devolve. Whether it was a family vacation with husband Cass Sunstein, also a senior adviser to President Obama, or something else, a diplomat leaving her duty post so soon after being confirmed does not suggest a high administration priority for the crisis or its putative emphasis on the UN. Expect critics like Richard Grenell to bear down.

OBAMA: SYRIA CHEM ATTACK A “GRAVE CONCERN”- President Obama, in an interview with CNN, said the U.S. is gathering information on recent reports of a chemical attack by the Syrian government on rebel forces and calls it “clearly a big event of grave concern.” The President said the U.S. is working through the U.N., which has inspectors in Syria, but that he doesn’t “expect cooperation” from the Assad government.  “The situation in Syria is very difficult and the notion that the U.S. can somehow solve what is a sectarian, complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated,” Obama said.

More On This...

    Team Obama divided on Syria - NYT: “…[A] sharply divided Obama administration on Thursday began weighing potential military responses to President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Senior officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence agencies met for three and a half hours at the White House on Thursday to deliberate over options, which officials say could range from a cruise missile strike to a more sustained air campaign against Syria.”

    OBAMA ROAD SHOW ROLLS ON - President Obama’s bus keeps rolling today on a tour promoting his call to curb the cost of higher education and set-up a value metric for college ratings. He will hold a midday town hall at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Obama then rolls on to Scranton, Pa., to meet hometown favorite, Vice President Joe Biden, and re-pitch the education plan at Lackawanna College.

    Ed Henry wants to know: “Andy Bernard said there were two things he was passionate about: Re-cycling and re-venge. Congress may not look kindly on recycled ideas from President Obama’s bus tour, but the president will get his revenge: Executive power. How will it play out?”

    [FNC’s Mike Tobin considers how well Scranton, Pa., is faring in today’s economic climate]

    Lacks energy - Energy will notably be absent from President Obama’s remarks. The issue remains contentious in the Empire State as Gov. Andrew Cuomo D-N.Y., continues to delay a decision that would allow natural gas fracking in the state and end a de facto moratorium that has lasted over five years. State Republicans are calling Cuomo’s absence from Obama’s event today an act of “political cowardice” to avoid the fracking controversy. Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan will be protesting the administration’s fracking policy. According to a recent Siena Research Institute poll, New Yorkers are almost evenly split on the issue.

    Coal War - In a letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raymond Ventrone, who represents more than 2,000 members of the Boilermakers Union in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, claimed the president is waging a war on coal. The union head charges that new EPA regulations will cost 400 jobs in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    SOARING OBAMACARE COSTS - Delta faces ObamaCare cost crush - Forbes reports: “A recently-leaked letter from Delta Air Lines to the Obama administration states that the ‘cost of providing health care to our employees will increase by nearly $100,000,000 next year,” much of it due to ObamaCare…The costs imposed on Delta and our employees are very real and they are escalating. [ObamaCare’s costs], when combined with normal medical inflation and the end of the [Early Retiree Reinsurance] program mean that the cost of providing health care to our employees will increase by nearly $100 million next year.”’

    BOEHNER: OBAMACARE FUNDING NOT A DO-OR-DIE FIGHT - National Review Online: “[Speaker John Boehner] strongly hinted on a conference call with rank-and-file House Republicans that the upcoming continuing resolution will not be a do-or-die fight over ObamaCare spending… ‘Our intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels,’ Boehner told members, according to a person on the call.”

    Kimberly Strassel: A new strategy to take on ObamaCare - In her WSJ column, Strassel makes the case for a plan to delay, rather than trying to defund ObamaCare. “The inexcusable tragedy of this August recess is that Republicans are so busy fighting one another over how to pressure Democrats that they've utterly failed to pressure Democrats. Headlines are nice. Victories are better.”

    President Obama has already granted waivers to giant corporations.  Why is President Obama threatening to shut down the government in order to deny those same waivers to hard-working American families?—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren

    Lew pushes GOP on debt limit - Washington Examiner: “Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew tried to take the looming fight over the debt ceiling to Republicans on Thursday, challenging them [in a California speech] to raise the limit without conditions as soon as they return from the August recess.”

    MUELLER SAYS AL QAEDA THREAT “POSTPONED- FBI director Robert Mueller told Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge he believes the threat which closed two dozen embassies in the Middle East and North Africa has not passed. Mueller, set to step down on Sept. 4, said terrorists appear to have “postponed” the operation after the U.S. ramped up security. In the interview, Mueller also touched on how the FBI is able to collect and read Americans emails, the slow progress on the Benghazi terrorist attack. Watch the interview here

    FOX NEWS SUNDAY PREVIEW: MIDDLE EAST ANXIETIES - Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., join host Chris Wallace to talk about instability in the Middle East and the U.S. response. Check local listings for times.

    COBURN: OBAMA PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO IMPEACHMENT STANDARD - Tulsa World reports: At Muskogee town hall, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called President Obama a friend but cautioned that he was “perilously close” to meeting the Constitutional standard for impeachment.

    COLIN POWELL: THERE IS NO VOTER FRAUD - Breitbart: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to a business group in Raleigh, N.C., blasted the state’s new voter identification law saying “there is no voter fraud” and the law is a message to minority voters that the Republican Party is “punishing you.” The Justice Department said Thursday that it will file suit over a similar law in Texas.

    Holder: Sequestration is unjust - Attorney General Eric Holder, writing in the Washington Post, argues that sequestration caps on spending are hurting the public defender program: “This shameful state of affairs is unworthy of our great nation, its proud history and our finest legal traditions.”

    BEYOND THE DREAM - Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech, FNC’s Kelly Wright considers King’s legacy in a Fox News special, “Beyond the Dream,” Saturday at 5 p.m.ET.

    Bringing voter ID fight to Washington - The National Urban League hosts the Redeem the Dream Summit Washington on Saturday. Scheduled speakers include: Urban League President Marc Morial, MSNBC Host Al Sharpton and NAACP President Ben Jealous.

    Related: A new Pew survey finds fewer than half of respondents say America has made substantial progress on racial equality.

    WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...David Rivkin and Lee Casey who served in the Justice Department during the Reagan and Bush administrations consider the IRS scandal in light of political speech in a WSJ OpEd: “The IRS scandal is a moment of reckoning. It offers the country a unique opportunity to free a substantial portion of political speech from government regulation.”

    Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

    BAIER TRACKS: UNCLE SAM SWINGS VIRGINIA - Bret Baier: “With all that has been going on, it's easy to forget THIS is an election year.  But, there is really only one race of national significance - the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.   Virginia is a swing state and key to Republican hopes for recapturing the White House in 2016. President Obama’s victories there – the first Democratic presidential wins in Virginia since Lyndon Johnson – all but guaranteed Republican defeat.

    According to the latest polls, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe carries a narrow lead over his Republican rival, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  Cucinelli has certainly been hurt by the scandals swirling around current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, but there’s much more at play.

    The McAuliffe campaign estimates that 35 percent of the vote will come from residents of the D.C. media market.  When you have a federal government expanding by more than 140,000 workers under the Obama administration, and federal workers’ growing compensation advantage over their private sector counterparts, many political analysts say that tends to be a growing constituency that votes for the party doing the hiring.  We'll see.”

    Cuccinelli distances himself from McDonnell - Republican Ken Cuccinelli released a new ad hitting fellow Republican, Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., for taking improper gifts from a donor now at the center of a criminal investigation. The ad credits Cuccinelli for launching an investigation as attorney general.

    Stat shot - Quinnipiac Poll: McDonnell job approval: 47 percent approve; 39 percent disapprove//Trustworthy: Yes 42 percent; No 41 percent

    POLL CHECK - Virginia 2016 - A new Quinnipiac survey shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Gov. Chris Christie R-N.J., by 9 points in the battleground state of Virginia. Clinton beats Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by 19 points. Christie beats Vice President Joe Biden by ten. Biden bests Cruz by 10 points.

    Senate stakes - In the same poll, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner carries a 61 percent job-approval rating, further dimming GOP hopes for adding the state to their battleground list for 2014.

    Real Clear Politics Averages - Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.7 percent//Disapprove – 50.3 percent
    Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent Right Track//Wrong Track – 62 percent

    OFF TO THE RACES - Campaign Carl Cameron is considering…“Which Democrats are ready to test Hillary Clinton’s inevitability? Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are both allowing speculation to flourish among liberals about a possible run. It’s about time to start testing the waters. Who’s ready to take the plunge?”

    MR. SUNDAY SHINES - This weekend, Chris Wallace will be awarded the RTNDA's Paul White Award at a ceremony in Anaheim, Calif. The award is RTDNA's highest honor and recognizes an individual's lifetime contributions to journalism.  Chris' father Mike Wallace received the award in 1991 - making them the first father/son recipients of the award.

    IS MR. WORF HIRING? - Chicago Tribune: “You can learn how to ask many questions in Klingon — an unofficial language created for humanoid characters in the &quotStar Trek&quot television series and movies — on the Illinois Department of Employment Security website. The site offers translations via Microsoft Translator. The current options are Spanish, Polish, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Klingon.”

    AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES -“Nothing happens at the U.N. ... She [Samantha Power] could hover above it in a drone. It would make no difference” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Watch the full clip here

    Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30amET, click here