Sunday Morning Reads

-Yesterday, President Obama hinted that he might use executive power to avert a debt ceiling related default. “One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up,” he said, raising questions about the trillion dollar coin and 14th amendment solutions.

-In a rare public appearance, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad addressed supporters at the Damascus Opera House today. He proposed a resolution to Syria’s civil war in the form of a new constitution and a new cabinet. According to The New York Times, the embattled Assad “offered no new acknowledgment of the gains by the rebels fighting against him, the excesses of his government or the aspirations of the Syrian people. Mr. Assad also ruled out talks with the armed opposition and pointedly ignored its central demand that he step down, instead using much of a nearly hourlong speech to justify his harsh military crackdown.”

The Times also profiled CIA waterboarding whistleblower and soon to be federal inmate John Kiriakou yesterday. Kiriakou, who pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, distanced himself from making value judgments about post 9/11 torture, but said we should be “having a national debate over whether we should be waterboarding.” Scott Shane, the author whose prior interviews with Kiriakou were cited by federal prosecutors in their case against the former spy, also points out that stories about Deuce Martinez, the so-called covert operative that Kiriakou was accused of outing, “were far from secret.”

The Nation’s John Nichols put forth the idea that Paul Ryan and every other House member that voted against Superstorm Sandy aid shirked their duty to uphold the Constitution. Nichols writes that “one of the few clearly defined responsibilities of any House member, is ‘to provide for the general Welfare.’ They swear an oath to do so. And, barely hours into the new Congress, Ryan and his compatriots rejected that oath and a fundamental premise of the Constitution it supports.”

-Hockey fans out there (full disclosure: Let’s Go Caps!) will be pleased to know that the NHL looks set to return, after a labor dispute cancelled almost half the season. A tentative agreement has been reached months after the widely reviled owners locked out the players’ association (I apologize for including this in the morning’s round-up. I am overjoyed).

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.