MONDAY’S MINI-REPORT…. Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Afghanistan: “Evidence is mounting that fraud in last weekend’s parliamentary election was so widespread that it could affect the results in a third of provinces, calling into question the credibility of a vote that was an important test of the American and Afghan effort to build a stable and legitimate government.”
* Netanyahu pushes peace talks to the breaking point: “Israel’s decision this weekend to end its freeze on West Bank Jewish settlement construction sent diplomats on three continents into desperate activity on Monday as they tried to keep Middle East peace talks alive. And although the discussions covered many topics, in the end they came down to one stubborn goal: how to end settlement construction.”
* It never should have taken this for the bill to become law: “With Congress just about out the door for the remainder of the election season, President Obama on Monday signed a bill to aid small businesses, saying it will do ‘two big things: It’s going to cut taxes, and it’s going to make more loans available.’”
* Clearly not the headlines civil libertarians hoped to see: 1. “U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet” 2. “Money Transfers Could Face Anti-Terrorism Scrutiny” 3. “Critics Balk at Obama’s Justification for Killing American Terrorist.”
* Responding to the headlines, Michael Crowley notes, “My hunch is that Obama could make an excellent argument against all these positions, and that it pains him to adopt them. But also that he gets constant and chilling briefings about the terror threat and would rather be accused of limiting civil liberties than of having been less than fully vigilant.”
* Glenn Greenwald is far less forgiving.
* Sharp piece from John Harwood: it’s the economy, not “empathy,” that’s driving down President Obama’s political support.
* The president spoke to college journalists today, and delivered a direct message to younger voters about the midterms: “You can’t sit it out. You can’t suddenly just check in once every ten years or so on an exciting presidential election and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we have a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans…. That is a big choice. That has big consequences. So even though this may not be as exciting as a presidential election it is going to make a huge difference in terms of whether we are going to be able to move our agenda forward over the next couple years.”
* On a related note, the impact of the 2010 elections on American colleges really is significant, whether students fully appreciate it or not.
* And finally, in a rare congressional move, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) got so sick of attacks from Concerned Taxpayers of America that he decided to stop by the right-wing group’s offices for a surprise visit.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.