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

The Pentagon has determined that U.S. military involvement in Syria could cost billions of dollars, the New York Times reported Monday.

A letter from Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) described the logistics and costs of several military options available to the United States in aiding the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In his letter, Dempsey estimated the cost of training rebel troops in Syria at almost $500 million a year, while employing long-range strikes on military targets could wind up costing billions, according to the Times. Factor in a no-fly zone, and the costs would be even higher.

Dempsey wrote that in hypothetical efforts to thwart the use of chemical weapons, “thousands of Special Operations forces and other ground forces would be needed to assault and secure critical sites” at costs of over $1 billion per month, as quoted by the Times.

Points of Light CEO Michelle Nunn will formally announce Tuesday that she'll be running as a Democratic candidate in Georgia's 2014 senate race, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In an interview with the newspaper published Monday, Nunn said she was excited to contribute to the state and vowed to work for bipartisan progress in the Senate. 

“Part of what I bring to the table, and what Georgians are eager for, is coming together. They’re tired of the partisanship, tired of what feels like political infighting versus actually trying to accomplish things,” Nunn told the Journal-Constitution. “I’ve had the chance to work with President George H.W. Bush. I sat on a council on volunteerism for George W. Bush. I believe in showing respect for our presidents across party lines. I think we do a disservice when we’re not willing to do that.”

A Michigan judge on Friday ordered Detroit's emergency manager to withdraw a federal bankruptcy petition filed on behalf of the city, Reuters reported.

State Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled that the law allowing Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to authorize the bankruptcy filing was unconstitutional, according to Reuters. Aquilina ruled in favor of Detroit retirees and workers who argued the Michigan Constitution protected the retirement benefits in their city pension funds.

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod touted Hillary Clinton as the likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee in two separate cable news appearances Friday.

"I think that Hillary Clinton probably will be the candidate," Axelrod told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "If she doesn't run, I think Biden will run."

Later on "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Axelrod said that he thinks it's "highly unlikely" that Biden and Clinton will run against one another for the nomination.

"She's holding the cards right now as far as I'm concerned," Axelrod said.

Watch Axelrod's comments on "Morning Joe" below, courtesy of MSNBC: 

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Robert Zimmerman, the brother of the man acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, reacted Friday to President Barack Obama's impromptu statement on the case by saying that he would go a step beyond the president and advocate for defending youth "of all colors," including African-Americans.

"The president talked about encouraging African-American youth but I would say also youth of all colors," Zimmerman told Fox News by phone. "It might be in situations in their life that they don't feel like they're getting the encouragement from society that they need. That's one of the things my brother was doing before this incident." 

In response to Obama's call to train law enforcement to handle potential racial bias, Zimmerman added that for at-risk youth "sometimes the right encouragement and the right role models and sort of the right shoulder to lean on in very difficult times in life can prevent any kind of engagement with law enforcement or the criminal justice s system whatsoever."

Zimmerman was measured in his response, praising Obama for speaking "off-the-cuff" and being "very sincere in his remarks."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a Friday press briefing that the White House will work with Detroit as the city files for bankruptcy, but insisted that the issue is between "the city and its creditors."

"We will of course, as we would with any city, work with that city and have policy discussions with leaders in that city and make suggestions and offer assistance where we can," Carney said.

He added that the matter of Detroit's solvency is "one that has to be resolved between the city and its creditors."

Asked what kind of assistance the White House could offer to Detroit, Carney wouldn't elaborate.

President Barack Obama outlined several ideas that he's been discussing with his administration to address gun violence in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case on Friday in an impromptu statement at the White House.

Obama noted that authorities at all levels of government could work together to professionalize the way law enforcement officials approach their duties.

"I think it would be productive for the justice department, governors, mayors, to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists," Obama said, citing legislation he introduced in Illinois that trained police departments on how to think about potential racial bias.

"Along the same lines I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case rather than diffuse potential altercations," he added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced Friday he will chair a Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing on civil rights issues raised by "stand your ground" laws when the Senate reconvenes in September. 

"These laws, one of which played a key role in the trial surrounding the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, give individuals the right to use lethal force to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger, without first attempting to retreat from the situation," a statement from Durbin's office read. 

Among the topics the hearing will raise are civil rights issues arising from the intersection of racial profiling and "stand your ground" laws, the extent to which those laws provoke armed confrontations, as well as the gun lobby and the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) influence in creating and promoting those laws, according to the statement.

The Charlotte Observer took sharp aim at state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) in an editorial Thursday, arguing that his constant fundraising road trips for his 2014 bid to unseat Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) compromise his service as speaker.

Tillis missed votes on 36 bills in the North Carolina House on Wednesday alone, according to the editorial. 

From the Observer:

When Tillis announced his Senate bid, he said he would “raise money at the appropriate time.” “I don’t intend to campaign heavily and actively until after we get out of session,” he said.


It’s fine that Tillis is interested in higher office, and we don’t fault him for recognizing the need to raise millions. But the fiscal year started three weeks ago and the legislature still has not agreed on a budget. Tillis is missing sessions. His actions are raising questions of conflict of interest.


He has shown he can’t give his undivided attention to the N.C. House and the U.S. Senate at the same time. He should give up his Speaker’s gavel, resign from his House seat and give his full energy to his Senate bid, unencumbered by such distractions as running the state.