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The Political Side of the Voting Rights Push
Today's Washington Post portrays Attorney General Eric Holder's ambitious agenda defending voting-rights cases as a career capstone. But there's also a political component to the administration's activism. To hold onto the Senate and to win some key battleground House seats, Democrats badly need to get African-American and Hispanic voters to turn out in higher numbers than usual for a midterm election.
In four Southern states that are critical to determining which party controls the Senate (Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas), African-American turnout is the decisive factor. In numerous House battlegrounds—particularly against Reps. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., and Joe Heck, R-Nev.—Hispanic enthusiasm is pivotal. Already in Georgia's open Senate contest, Democratic strategists are already identifying low-propensity voters to get to the polls in 2014.
Without a driving issue to get minority voters to turn out, it's hard to see them showing up for moderate Democratic senators or challengers. But as President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign showed, voting-rights issues can be a powerful motivational tool—and with new get-out-the-vote technology, Democrats are cautiously optimistic they can beat the odds.
OBAMA PRESSES GOP TO ACCEPT CORPORATE-TAX DEAL. President Obama continued his series of economic speeches today in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he outlined a proposal to cut corporate-tax rates if House Republicans promise to invest in programs designed to help grow middle-class jobs, The Wall Street Journal reports. The ideas in Obama's proposal are not new, The New York Times notes, and are derived from a plan former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner proposed in 2012: Corporate taxes will be reduced from 35 percent to 28 percent, with a rate of 25 percent for manufacturers. But Republicans are still pushing for a 25 percent corporate-tax rate. "It's the opposite of a concession," said a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Read more
- Obama's plan for a grand bargain is dead on arrival in a GOP-controlled House that wants more concessions—or no bargain at all, The Post's Rachel Weiner writes. Read more
BRADLEY MANNING FOUND NOT GUILTY OF AIDING THE ENEMY. Pfc. Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, but guilty of multiple other counts of violating the Espionage Act, Judge Col. Denise Lind ruled today. Manning, who previously admitted to giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified military documents in 2010, was convicted of five espionage counts, five theft charges, a computer-fraud count, and other military infractions. Manning's sentencing hearing, in which he faces up to 136 years in prison, is set to begin Wednesday. The verdict on the charge of aiding the enemy avoided a serious chill on whistleblowing, National Journal's Brian Resnick and Matt Berman report. Read more
- Fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is among those who learned lessons—including how best to leak secrets—from Manning's experience, The Atlantic Wire's Philip Bump writes. Read more
GOP DONORS LOBBYING FOR IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL. More than 100 Republican donors sent a letter to Republican House members today pushing them to support immigration reform, The New York Times reports. "We write to urge you to take action to fix our broken immigration system," the letter begins. It asks the GOP to grant "legal status" to 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. The effort was organized by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush and is a founder of the Republicans for Immigration Reform super PAC. Other Republicans who signed the letter include Karl Rove, former Vice President Dan Quayle, and Staples founder Tom Stemberg.
- The barely noticed unanimous passage of a border-security plan by the House Homeland Security Committee in May could lay the groundwork for a broad overhaul of immigration laws, The Washington Post reports. Read more
MIDEAST NEGOTIATORS HOPE FOR DEAL WITHIN NINE MONTHS. Secretary of State John Kerry said today that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet again in two weeks to continue striving toward a peace agreement and have set a nine-month deadline for achieving a pact, the Associated Press reports. Kerry said the delegations, which began discussions yesterday in Washington, were committed to "sustained, continuous and substantive negotiations on the core issues." He added that the next phase of talks would occur in either Israel or Palestinian territories. President Obama met with negotiators earlier Tuesday and pledged that the U.S. "stands ready to support them throughout these negotiations, with the goal of achieving two states, living side by side in peace and security." Read more
E.U. DIPLOMAT: MORSI IS 'WELL.' Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official, met with ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for two hours on Monday night, The New York Times reports. Ashton is the first international diplomat to meet with Morsi since Egypt's military took him into custody on July 3. Ashton said at a news conference today that Morsi was "well," adding that Egyptian officials "freely offered" her the opportunity to visit with the former leader. "We had a friendly and open and very frank discussion," Ashton said. "He has access to information in terms of TV, newspapers, so we were able to talk about the situation, and we were able to talk about the need to move forward." Read more
DEATH OF KURDISH LEADER COULD SPLIT REBELS IN SYRIA. Kurdish leader Issa Hisso, who was outspoken against both radical Islamist groups and President Bashar al-Assad's regime, was killed today by a car bomb, the Associated Press reports. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing yet, but organizations with links to al-Qaida are the top suspects. The attack has prompted a Kurdish militia to begin mobilizing against al-Qaida-linked groups in Northern Syria. Both Kurdish groups and al-Qaida-linked organizations have fought against President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the two-year civil war. Read more
AL-QAIDA AFFILIATE CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR IRAQ BOMBINGS. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an affiliate of al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for the 17 car bombings that killed at least 60 people on Monday, Reuters reports. A statement released online by the group said the attacks were a response to the mistreatment of the Sunni minority by the Shiite-led government, and that targets were carefully selected. Tensions among Islamic sects have been stoked in the region by the civil war in Syria, where primarily Sunni rebels are trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Shiite Iran. Read more
SENATE PANEL APPROVES 2014 DEFENSE SPENDING BILL. The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee today approved a defense spending bill for the 2014 fiscal year that would reverse the harshest effects of sequestration, the Associated Press reports. The bill adds nearly $4.5 billion to cover shortfalls related to military training and equipment maintenance. Subcommittee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said sequester cuts had to be stopped because they forced Congress to play "whack-a-mole" with the defense budget. "We cannot continue like this," Durbin said. The Pentagon will have to cut $52 billion beginning Oct. 1 if Congress and the White House fail to find a compromise to undo sequestration. Read more
PRO-CLINTON SUPER PAC RAISES OVER $1 MILLION. The Ready for Hillary super PAC said today that it has received donations exceeding $1.25 million since beginning to seriously raise money in the spring, the Associated Press reports. That figure includes the more than $1 million that the group raised in June. The group will release a financial report on Wednesday and says there will be around $1 million in the bank after expenses. Hillary Rodham Clinton has yet to announce her candidacy in the 2016 presidential race and is not formally connected to the super PAC. Read more
- With the presidential election still three years away, some Democratic donors are already throwing their money around to try and get close to Clinton, The Atlantic Wire reports. Read more
WHY DIDN'T LIZ CHENEY RUN FOR THE SENATE IN VIRGINIA? Republican officials are grumbling that Liz Cheney passed up an opportunity to run in her adopted state of Virginia, leaving the party empty-handed as it searches for a challenger against Sen. Mark Warner, National Journal's Alex Roarty reports. Instead of taking one for the Republican team, she's sparked an intra-party war in Wyoming. And, some strategists say, her prospects would be slightly better running in a battleground state than waging a long-shot primary battle against a popular sitting senator. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney grew up in Northern Virginia and lived there until last year. Read more
SENATE PANEL TO WEIGH FISA PROGRAMS. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on "Strengthening Privacy Rights and National Security: Oversight of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Surveillance Programs" at 9 a.m. in 216 Hart. Scheduled witnesses include Deputy Attorney General James Cole; John Inglis, deputy director of the National Security Agency; Robert Litt, general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and Sean Joyce, deputy director of the FBI.
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS COMMEMORATE MARCH ON WASHINGTON. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., will hold a ceremony observing the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at 3 p.m. in Statuary Hall.
UCONN HUSKIES HONORED AT WHITE HOUSE. Obama will welcome the University of Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team to the White House to honor the team for its 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship at 2 p.m.
"What you're about to witness has never been caught on camera before. Democrats and Republicans, both natural predators, feasting on the same talking point." --The Daily Show's John Oliver, on a bipartisan attempt to divest the National Security Agency of surveillance funding (The Atlantic Wire)
GO GO GOOGLE GLASS? Author Gary Shteyngart was part of the first batch of New Yorkers to try out Google Glass. Writing about his experience for The New Yorker, Shteyngart compares seeing another person using Glass to "running into an old countryman on the docks of Manhattan in 1905." With the device, Shteyngart writes, he gains rock-star status, with people approaching or calling out to him around New York City. He most relishes the ability to capture others' reactions to the glasses. After wearing the glasses non-stop for a week, Shteyngart writes that "it feels like his right eye is bulging out." He feels nauseated and has a headache. One person tells him, "you look like you have a lazy eye." Read more
THE PLAGUE ENDURES, BUT THIS ISN'T MEDIEVAL EUROPE. A squirrel found earlier this month in a Los Angeles-area campground has the bubonic plague, but it's not likely to cause the large number of deaths with which the disease is historically associated, The Atlantic's James Hamblin reports. There are between 1,000 and 2,000 reported cases of the plague each year, according to World Health Organization records. Meanwhile, Reuters notes that this month's is the sixth squirrel to be found with the plague in the San Gabriel Mountains since 1995. Campgrounds were closed down last Wednesday and are scheduled to be shuttered for at least a week. Read more
TODAY'S PHOTO GALLERY
PORTRAITS OF LIFE ON THE EDGE. The Failed States Index, compiled annually by Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace, evaluates 178 countries using 12 economic, social and political indicators, and ranks them according to their total scores. Foreign Policy has compiled "Postcards from Hell"—photographs depicting daily life in the 60 countries deemed most "fragile" according to the index. See it here