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• Putin greets Obama with Syria threat
• Liar’s poker in St. Petersburg
• Union boss: ObamaCare hurts workers
• Cuccinelli courts Wilder
• Mountain bias!
PUTIN GREETS OBAMA WITH SYRIA THREAT - President Obama arrived in Russia today to find the already failing relations with his host in even worse condition. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to provide his Syrian allies with a missile shield in the event of U.S. airstrikes further complicates Obama’s flagging effort to win international support for an attack on Damascus. As the Guardian reports, Putin’s warning that an attack without UN backing would provoke military aid from Russia may drive away the handful of international partners for Obama’s proposed attack.
[Watch Fox: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appears in the noon ET hour]
Liar’s poker in St. Petersburg - Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that the main combat unit of the Syrian rebels is part of Al Qaeda adds a further chill to U.S.-Russia relations. Putin said Secretary of State John Kerry “lies openly” about Al Qaeda’s role among U.S.-backed rebels in Syria. Putin’s comments came after Kerry’s testy exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., over the role of terrorist groups in the rebellion. Kerry claimed that Al Qaeda-allied groups were a small fraction of the force. State Department officials dismissed Putin’s charge.
[House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told reporters he was “stunned” by Kerry’s claim.]
Video portrays role for radical Islam among Syrian rebels – Intelligence analysts are examining a new video featuring Syrian rebel commanders amid symbols of the Islamist movement. Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge is looking at warnings that radicals are seeking chemical weapons and their role among U.S.-backed Syrian rebels.
Seating shuffle - Sky News reports the seating plan at the summit has been changed to put more physical distance between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, leaders will be seated based on the English alphabet. Had the Russian alphabet been used, Obama and Putin would have been seated considerably closer.
Putin’s press pounces - The headline of the Kremlin’s main newspaper, Rosssiyaka Gazeta, speaks to the growing tensions between the two leaders: “Obama Burnt His Peace Pipe.” The newspaper Izvestia claims President Obama wants to punish Syrian strongman Bashar Assad because Obama wants to help American oil companies.
Drawing lines -“I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line.” -- President Obama during a Wednesday press conference in Stockholm, Sweden.
“I can't imagine him saying that he didn't draw the red line, but he did draw the red line.”—Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren”
Boehner balks at meeting with Russians - House Speaker John Boehner has refused the Russian Embassy’s request to meet with House leaders to make the case against a Syria strike.
[Watch Fox: Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., of the House Homeland Security Committee appears in the 9 a.m. ET hour]
STRIKES STILL SHORT ON SUPPORT - Fox News: Strong Republican opposition to strikes against Syria is showing no signs of fading. “[House Speaker John Boehner] is not my boss… the people who elected me are my boss. Voters are saying, ‘Please, do not engage in Syria,”’ Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said. Salmon predicted to National Review that the authorization will “fail by 20 votes” in the Republican-controlled House. Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone observes that only 17 House members have spoken in favor of military action, while 130 have said they are opposed or leaning against it.
Paul outlines opposition - Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky. explains why he is voting “no” on Syria in a Time Magazine Op-Ed: “The U.S. should not fight a war to save face. I will not vote to send young men and women to sacrifice life and limb for stalemate.”
Senate speeds up (a bit) for Syria - The Senate will come back early from its recess to deal with Syria. Senators were scheduled to return Monday. The Senate will instead convene Friday to start the procedural clock on a proposed authorization of force. Debate could begin this weekend.
“This president's reasons for coming to Congress in this instance were political, not constitutional”—Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., in a statement.
Liberal activists shun Obama on Syria - The Daily Caller reports left-wing MoveOn.org is not backing President Obama’s call for an attack on Syria and is asking supporters to encourage their representatives to vote “no.” The Washington Free Beacon notes that the Obama-backing, left-leaning, pro-Israel group J Street has stayed silent on the subject. The NYT considers how Obama’s liberal base, especially African-American members of Congress, may present a barrier.
Hillary’s fate tied to Obama’s Syria gambit - WaPo’s Dan Balz considers how strikes in Syria will affect the 2016 race. Remember how then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry saw a similar vote in 2002 dim their presidential hopes.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND ANYWAY? - Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the only way to “secure” Syrian chemical weapons is to use boots on the ground. National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin considers the limits of using airstrikes alone.
TRUMKA COPS TO OBAMACARE PAY CUTS - Breitbart: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka admits “...employers are ‘restructuring their workforce,’ giving employees fewer hours—and it's all because of the negative impacts of ObamaCare… a growing list of up to 258 large employers in states all across the country have announced that they are cutting jobs and hours as a result of the impact ObamaCare will have on their businesses, organizations, and institutions.”
[Watch Fox Business: Department of Labor Statistics weekly jobless claims report in the 8 a.m. ET hour]
Bishops warn of federally funded abortions for lawmakers, staffs - The U.S. Council of Bishops is urging the Obama administration to make sure federal funds will not support abortion coverage for lawmakers and their staffers. In a letter, the bishops say the administration “can’t have it both ways.”
Drug companies, big insurance and lawyers among early winners of ObamaCare - Fox News producer Lee Ross reports on who is reaping early windfall from the 2010 health law.
[WSJ: “This Administration simply declares it won't enforce the laws it doesn't like and calls it virtue. The media then give this a pass because Mr. Obama's decisions mesh with their own policy preferences”.]
BAIER TRACKS: GUMMED UP…“The Syria debate is sucking a lot of oxygen out of the nation's capital, and the debate could drag on until the end of the month. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Politico, ‘We have been told we have more time. They can accommodate a couple of weeks of debate. Our members want to have a say in shaping the resolution.’
Meantime, there is a long to-do list for lawmakers. The New York Times hit the highlights, but the bottom line is: The House has only scheduled nine work days this month and Sept. 30 is the deadline to fund the federal government. Then you have the debt ceiling set to be reached by mid-October.
Conservatives are holding strong to plans to tie delaying or defunding ObamaCare to either a continuing resolution to fund the government or a debt-ceiling increase. Supporters of an immigration overhaul are still pushing their agenda. President Obama will soon be nominating a new head for the Federal Reserve, which means confirmation hearings. Proposed legislation restructuring NSA surveillance programs will likely be pushed back, as will hearings on pending judicial nominations.
Syria is all-encompassing. Senior White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer told the NYT, ‘An American president has to be able to walk, chew gum and juggle at the same time. The president and his team will do everything they can to implement his overall agenda while this debate happens.’
If the Syria resolution fails, Hill watchers will say the president may be able to chew gum, run, shoot hoops, and do cartwheels, but he will be done influencing any Capitol Hill votes.” – Bret Baier
NRA TEAMS WITH ACLU ON DOMESTIC SPYING - Fox News: The National Rifle Association is joining the American Civil Liberties Union in its lawsuit against the National Security Administration’s massive phone record collection program. The NRA argues that the National Security Agency's database of phone records is tantamount to a national gun registry.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Annie Paul Murphy, author of the forthcoming book “Brilliant: The New Science of Smart,” writes in a Time Magazine piece When Homework is a Waste of Time: “…homework isn’t making the grade. Although surveys show that the amount of time our children spend on homework has risen over the past three decades, American students are mired in the middle of international academic rankings…”
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.0 percent//Disapprove – 50.8 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.3 percent//Wrong Track – 62.0 percent
CUCCINELLI COURTING WILDER - Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, will today visit the college classroom of former Democratic Gov. Douglas Wilder, the commonwealth’s first black governor. Cuccinelli, a former Wilder intern, is expected to unveil a new policy proposal in his speech at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. A campaign spokesman for Democrat Terry McAuliffe told the WaPo that McAuliffe will visit Wilder’s class on a later date. Wilder withheld his endorsement from fellow Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia’s 2009 gubernatorial race.
TECHNOLOGY DRIVES CONGRESSMAN - AP: “[Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.,]… made a 33-mile trip … to Pittsburgh International Airport …. in a computer-operated car. The so-called driverless Cadillac SRX was designed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers … The car uses inputs from radars, laser rangefinders, and infrared cameras to maneuver in traffic.”
GRIDIRON BIAS ALERT - Buzz Feed purports to list the 11 coolest traditions in college football. Among them is Ohio State’s Script Ohio in which the band spells out the school’s name in cursive. Not listed? The only mascot with a functional firearm: the West Virginia University Mountaineer, who pulls the trigger on his musket every time the Mounties score. [Ed. note: Hey OSU, has cursive script ever killed a bear? Not likely.]
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“Here are Obama and the Democrats who mocked the Bush administration for unilateral intervention in Iraq with a coalition of almost 50 countries and he can't get one and a half. So he has to have the Congress. That's the reason he did that switch in the end. He knew how alone he was and how he needed to cover.” – Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier”