"One of the panelists was Harrisburg City Councilman Otto Banks, a black former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party early this year. Banks, who is seeking re-election in November as a Republican, said he spoke in the session about how he became attracted to the GOP because the party offers blacks 'a choice to become captains of our own ship, so to speak.'"
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dimitri Vassilaros writes an open letter to RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman urging him to lead an open debate about immigration reform. Vassilaros, who clearly comes down on the Tancredo side as opposed to the Bush/Kyl/Cornyn side, writes, ". . .the GOP's leadership seems indifferent about the infiltration. Does the party hierarchy truly comprehend the intense concern in this nation about illegals? If it hopes to continue winning elections, it is imperative that the GOP do more than simply listen to the not-so-silent bipartisan majority in this republic that is frustrated almost beyond words about the invasion." LINK
The Boston Globe reports that as part of the GOP's affirmative efforts to reach out to young black voters, Ken Mehlman spoke at the National Association of Black Journalists meeting in Atlanta before heading the Pittsburgh and gave the audience his tag line: "Give us a chance, and we'll give you a choice." LINK
TNR's Ryan Lizza got 15 Bush White House reporters to help him probe the mysterious world of SCTTWH ("Sources Close to the White House"). "Despite the swelling ranks of SCTTWH, interviews revealed that there is indeed a core membership that might be called the Usual Suspects: a cadre of lobbyists, congressmen, ex-officials, and other hangers-on who seem to be programmed into every cell phone on the White House beat." LINK
From the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "After signing the energy bill in Albuquerque, N.M., Monday, he will join economic advisers Hubbard and Bernanke Tuesday to assess conditions. Fears of a 'soft patch' fade, as data on industrial output, capital spending and services portray an economy 'firing on all cylinders,' says UBS economist Larry Hatheway."
"Still, wage increases lag behind despite low unemployment, and high gas prices still damp consumer spirits. A break in house-price increases remains a risk; mortgage rates inch up but stay low. Today's July jobless report will give more clues to the labor market's health."
Politics of national security:
". . .as the military announced five more U.S. fatalities Thursday, bringing to 26 the number of Americans killed in the first three days of the month, the Bush administration faced the reality that August is on track to becoming one of the bloodiest months since the war began. And polls suggest the deaths are straining the patience of Americans, increasing the pressure on the administration to develop an exit strategy," write Jeff Zeleny, Michael Martinez, and Liz Sly of the Chicago Tribune. LINK
The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei sees Bush as defiant in the face of Zawahiri's threat. LINK
The Washington Times' Joseph Curl has Bush "standing firm" and refusing to give into "thugs." LINK