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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register Wednesday, praising the Senate's progress on legislation like a farm bill and the the Employment Non-Discrimination Act while acknowledging that the chamber is experiencing a "rough period" of partisanship that undermines other issues.

Harkin recounted one stinging example to the newspaper's editorial board, dating back to a July 15 closed-door meeting about filibuster rules, in which one unnamed senator said his constituents simply couldn't relate to the president. 

“I’m not naming any names, but one senator got up from a southern state and said, ‘Well, you’ve got to understand that to my people down here, Obama seems like he’s exotic,’” Harkin told the newspaper. “That he’s just exotic, he doesn’t share our values.”

Asked if he could name another American era as polarizing as today, Harkin said "Sure -- the Civil War."

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that passing immigration reform would produce a spike in home ownership, echoing one of the steps to revitalizing the housing market that he outlined in a speech in Arizona a day earlier.

"If we get immigration reform done, suddenly you've got all kinds of families coming out of the shadows, paying taxes, paying penalties, and they're also going to be really likely to buy homes," the president said at a Los Angeles roundtable with housing website Zillow.com. "They add value to a community."

Those families would be likely to buy homes in areas with high rates of foreclosure, Obama said, leading to increasing property values that could inject $1 trillion to the economy.

 

The intercept that led the State Department to announce it would close several embassies across the Middle East and Northern Africa last week was a conference call between al-Qaida leaders and their affiliates in the region, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday. 

One U.S. intelligence officer told the Daily Beast that the conference call was "like a meeting of the Legion of Doom," referring to a group of cartoon villains.  

Over 20 al-Qaida operatives were on the call discussing a pending attack with leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen, according to the Daily Beast's sources. 

"All you need to do is look at that list of places we shut down to get a sense of who was on the phone call," the intelligence officer said.

Kentucky senate challenger Matt Bevin (R) launched an attack ad Wednesday, calling Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) own attacks towards Bevin hypocritical in light of McConnell's support of taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street.

McConnell had released an ad at the end of July branding his challenger "Bailout Bevin," claiming that the candidate's Connecticut-based businesses failed to pay their taxes.

The 30-second TV spot will run statewide, according to Bevin's campaign. The amount of the ad buy was not disclosed. The ad's narrator says that after voting for bailouts over his 30 years in the Senate, "slinging mud is all Sen. McConnell has left."

Watch: 

In a rare political appearance after losing the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney made a strong statement Tuesday against a movement in the Republican Party that would allow a government shutdown as a means of defunding Obamacare.

"I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal," Romney said at a private GOP fundraiser in Wolfeboro, N.H., in remarks quoted by the Washington Post. "But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government. What would come next?”

Romney said a shutdown could have serious consequences, including soldiers going unpaid, seniors missing out on Medicare and Social Security checks, and FBI agents being forced off duty, according to the Post.

"I’m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy,” he added.

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who were in Egypt attempting to ease tensions between the country's interim leaders and their opposition, said Tuesday that the situation in that country was worse than they had thought.

"These folks are just days or weeks away from all-out bloodshed," Graham told "CBS Evening News."

The senators said that the only solution to avoid further conflict is for all of the political factions involved to reconcile, and for the Egyptian military to release Muslim Brotherhood leaders from prison for negotiations.

"I think I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that it might [fail]," McCain said. "I think the events in the next two weeks will determine that."

"I would go one step farther. I think it's going to fail if something doesn't change," Graham added.

Watch the interview below, courtesy of CBS News: 

Two military veterans who said they had been victims of past sexual assault told CNN Wednesday that they experienced uncomfortable advances from San Diego Mayor Bob Filner at a veterans' event.

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Eldonna Fernandez told CNN she met Filner in August 2012 while speaking at an event for National Women's Veterans Association of America (NWVAA), an organization that supports victims of military sexual assault. Fernandez said Filner asked her out to dinner after learning that she was divorced, then immediately left a "creepy" voicemail for her saying "'I don't want to wait 'til you come back to have dinner with you.'"

Army veteran Gerri Tindley told CNN that she gave a speech on rape at that same NWVAA event, where Filner was also slated to speak. Tindley said Filner asked her about her rape during her time in the service and felt uncomfortable when he tried to move close to her.

"He got as close as he could to me. His jacket was touching my jacket," Tindley said. "I was bent down. He was bent down with me, rubbing like he cared, like he was consoling me."

After allegations of sexual harassment against Filner emerged in the public sphere in July, NWVAA President Tara Jones revoked an invitation for Filner to speak and receive an award at an event this August.

The anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) launched an attack ad on Monday against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in his home state over his support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The group said it would spend $200,000 in Wisconsin markets on the 30-second spot that accuses the former vice presidential nominee of ignoring local unemployment while advocating for "amnesty."

The ad prominently features the unemployment numbers of major Wisconsin cities, claiming "Ryan wants to grant amnesty to illegal aliens and bring in millions more foreign workers to take our jobs."

"Congressman Ryan needs to explain to thousands of Wisconsin workers, who are struggling to find jobs to support their families, why he wants to increase immigration in order to avert a labor shortage that clearly does not exist," FAIR President Dan Stein stated in a press release. "Wisconsin has 210,000 unemployed workers. Does Congressman Ryan think they're not good enough to get the job done?"

While FAIR is widely cited by immigration hardliners, the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization as a hate group. FAIR advocates for the reduction of both legal and illegal immigration to the United States, and the SPLC has noted that some of the group's past ads have been rejected over racist content.

[via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley (D) launched his campaign website Monday, touting his leadership with a powerful photograph of the White House situation room in 2011 during U.S. forces' raid on Osama bin Laden.

The website places the photo under a button on its homepage reading: "This is what leadership looks like." A caption above the image, in which Daley is the third man standing from the left, reads "As President Obama's chief of staff, Bill played a key role in the operation that captured Osama bin Laden." 

The Chicago Sun-Times questioned whether using a White House photographer's image on the website might violate a policy stipulating that official White House photos may not be used for political purposes that “in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”

A Daley campaign spokesman told the Sun-Times that the photo does not violate that policy and speaks to Daley's "record at the White House and nothing more," adding that Daley "was the only non-national security council member or staff member who was in every meeting about that raid.”

[h/t The Hill]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first public comments on immigration reform Monday, declaring that reform policies aren't just vital for bringing talent to Silicon Valley firms but are essential to the growth of the "whole country."

"This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country - and for us to do what's right," Zuckerberg told a crowd gathered for the San Francisco premiere of the film "Undocumented," as quoted by the SF Chronicle.

The social media heavyweight said his interest in immigration reform was sparked by some of the children in an entrepreneurship class he volunteered to teach who were undocumented and "weren't going to be given equal opportunity," according to the Chronicle. 

"No matter where they were born, (these students) are going to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs and people creating jobs in this country," he continued. "These are issues that don't just touch our part of the industry, but really touch a whole country."

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