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Buzz Cut:
• Team Obama leaks failed raid in bid to shore up image
• Holder pumps up pressure on prosecutor in Ferguson
• Grimes garbled at farm forum
• Pryor touts support for ‘a law’
• Feminist sympathies spike among the men of Asheville

With President Obama facing increasing pressure to respond more forcefully to Islamist militants in the wake of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, the White House leaked word that the president had authorized a failed rescue mission to save Foley and other Americans hostages. Why on earth would anyone leak that? Publicizing a failed mission hurts U.S. military clout and certainly the captors already knew about the effort. So why? The answer came later on Wednesday night when it was revealed that the administration, in keeping with longstanding U.S. policy, had declined to pay ransom for Foley’s release. The leak of the failed rescue was evidently an effort to show the president was not simply a bystander. We’ve seen this before when the administration, long scorned by journalists for its clampdown on reporters, starts getting very leaky on national security when the president is jammed up politically. Remember the “kill list” and the lavish details on the killing of Usama bin Laden?

Hozzle shot - Obama is getting roasted in the press for his response to the killing and the ongoing Islamist threat. The president stepped to the microphones to make his statement while Foley’s parents were conducting their own press conference to in New Hampshire, yanking coverage away from the grieving family. And just moments before Obama spoke, his campaign apparatus dumped out another mass-email fundraising solicitation from the president, saying “Nothing has ever been more important than fighting for folks like you.” Obama wrapped up the press conference and in minutes was at a nearby country club for a round of golf with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning and a Wall Street donor. That would have been less problematic had he given different remarks on Wednesday. But because the president essentially expressed his feelings on the subject and declared that his policies would not change, it seemed callous.

[Course correction - The NYT’s original headline on the story about the golf-loving president’s response to the killing, “Obama, outraged over beheading, vows to stay on course” was quickly mocked and quickly changed.]

Will it work? - Helpful leaks are ones that cast their subject in a positive light. It is hard to see how the White House pushing out a story about a failed raid will do anything helpful for the president’s deteriorating image. The most likely result of the botched communications strategy at the White House is that Obama will be forced to give in to critics like Hillary Clinton and further escalate U.S. operations in the region.

[Fox News: “A senior U.S. official also told Fox News that military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more American forces to Iraq…”]

If the embattled St. Louis County prosecutor was looking for help from the nation’s top lawman on Wednesday, he was wrong. After almost two weeks of unrest over the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer, Attorney General Eric Holder visited the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. Holder explained that he understands the “mistrust” black residents have of police: “I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man.” Holder went on to describe his “humiliating” experience and “angry” response to being hassled by New Jersey state troopers decades ago. Holder’s personalization of the conflict wasn’t just feel-good talk for outraged black activists, it was also a jab at St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

[Police ally says officer badly beaten - Fox News: “[The officer involved in the shooting] suffered a fractured eye socket in the fracas, and was left dazed by the initial confrontation, the source said.”]

Makes it personal - McCulloch, a Democrat, has been the county’s prosecutor since 1991, but activists have been calling for him to be removed from the case because of his race and personal experiences. McCulloch has convened a grand jury to investigate the shooting, but because his father, a St. Louis police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a black suspect 50 years ago, foes want Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo., to yank him.  Holder’s choice to make his own race and biography equivalent to his official position hardly helped McCulloch’s effort to that he was impartial despite his family trauma.

[Holder today will announce today a deal with Bank of America, a key Democratic political patron and recipient of billions in bailout funds and federal protections under the Obama administration. The giant financial firm will pay a $7 billion fine and offer credits to customers for its part in a $1 trillion subprime lending scheme that resulted in the Panic of 2008.]

Officer video released - St. Louis Post Dispatch: “A video of an awards ceremony released Wednesday shows Officer Darren Wilson being commended for outstanding police work. The video’s release was the first time a confirmed image of the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 was made official. … Police Chief Thomas Jackson said that Wilson, 28, subdued a man in his car who was in midst of breaking down a large quantity of marijuana for sale.”

While there are 7,000 languages spoken around the world, 95 percent of the world’s population speaks 300 of them. Inside Science’s Joel Shurkin considers how some 40 percent of the world’s language may go extinct: “Thousands of languages have gone extinct in the last few centuries, and an economist at Case Western Reserve University thinks the language of any people whose total population is fewer than 35,000, is possibly endangered…There still are places in Europe, where a relatively small population speaks minority languages descended from Vulgar Latin that are mutually unintelligible from each other.  Examples include Picard and Walloon, both spoken in parts of France and Belgium. Even in England, there is a small population that still speaks Cornish, and Welsh never disappeared…But, when a language does disappear, a unique view of the world goes with it. Once one is gone it is almost impossible to resurrect – Hebrew being a rare exception.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.8 percent//Disapprove – 52.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.2 percent//Wrong Track – 64.5 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.2 percent// Republicans – 39.8 percent

-- 75 days until  Nov. 4 --

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  and Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes traded barbs during the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s ‘Measure the Candidates’ forum Wednesday. Grimes had some difficulties with her delivery as she tried to fault McConnell on his record, starting with her attack on his attendance record. Lexington Herald-Leader: “‘Never has a senator been paid so much to do so little for the people of Kentucky,’ Grimes said. ‘And it has come at the expense of our farm families. I’m a firm believer (that) you reap what you sow.’ When a reporter tried to ask Grimes after the forum how much time she has missed work as Kentucky secretary of state while campaigning, Grimes’ press secretary Charly Norton cut the question off and went to another reporter… Grimes continued to fault McConnell for voting against an immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate and failed in the U.S. House.” But as McConnell’s campaign was quick to point out, Grimes had a little trouble getting her message out.


Des Moines Register: “[Iowa] GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst and Gov. Terry Branstad [R-Iowa] were both endorsed late Tuesday by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Ernst also received formal backing from the National Federation of Independent Business.”

[So pretty and witty and bright - Conservative track PAC America Rising caught Iowa Democratic Senate nominee getting his makeup done for an ad touting his affinity for farming and it’s reminding voters of another well-coifed Democrat who was once popular in Iowa.]

AJC: “Thursday’s Georgia Chamber of Commerce forum will be the first joint public appearance between Senate contenders David Perdue and Michelle Nunn. It will also be the Republican’s first big trip to a major Chamber meeting since his public break with the national group.”

AP: “Democrat Natalie Tennant and Republican Shelley Moore Capito will… participate in a [candidate forum] Aug. 28 event as part of the [West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s] annual meeting at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs… Tennant and Capito will also debate Oct. 7 in Charleston.”

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