The Note

The AP's Leigh Strope calls the cash "a record sum in an election they say is do-or-die for the labor movement." LINK

Steven Franklin of the Chicago Tribune files from sunny Bal Harbour to report that John Sweeney has announced a 4-cent increase in labor's 57-cent monthly dues from individual members to fund that whopping $44 million. Also, Andy Stern announced that the SEIU will spend more than $40 million. LINK

Do read this lead from Klaus Marre: "'When, in the future, the Bush campaign is 'using firefighters for their photo op,' the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 'will loudly and aggressively' make known the administration's cuts to federal funds for first responders, Harold Schaitberger, the group's general president, told The Hill." LINK

Big casino budget politics:

The Washington Post's David Broder Notes that "It's a familiar complaint from state officials -- the charge that the federal government passes bills that voters love and then passes the buck on paying for them." LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

He ain't heavy . . . and Democrats' blocking his nomination is making it tough for the Bush Administration to implement the Medicare plan. So sayeth (saideth?) White House spokesman Scott McClellan Wednesday as he criticized Senate Democrats for blocking the nomination of his brother, Mark McClellan, to head up the Medicare program. LINK

The politics of national security:

We can hear Foggy Bottom yelling from here . . . The New York Times' Douglas Jehl reports that the Pentagon is paying Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress $340,000 a month "even as the group jockeys for power in a future government." LINK

Tenet vs. Feith? The Wall Street Journal's David Cloud reports "investigators are looking into a briefing on possible Iraq-al Qaeda links that the Pentagon unit, known as the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, gave to senior White House officials in late September 2002."

The Los Angeles Times' Miller on the congressional questions and criticisms over the rebuilding of Iraq. LINK

The Washington Post's Paula Span Notes that "the number of military families who oppose Operation Iraqi Freedom, though never measured, is probably small. But a nascent antiwar movement has begun to find a toehold among parents, spouses and other relatives of active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops." LINK

The Washington Post's Bradley Graham updates the status of the missile defense program. LINK

Bob Novak starts off shaming John Kerry for saying he'd have sent in troops to save President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti (before he fled, of course), winds his way over to a Kennedy family connection to Aristide, and scolds the Congressional Black Caucus for supporting the now-deposed president even as he spending loads of cash on U.S. lobbyists and lawyers as his people lived in abject poverty. And at the very end, he throws a little responsibility toward President Bush. LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

The Boston Globe's Frank Phillips and Raphael Lewis report, "A compromise constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but also establish same-sex civil unions appears to be gaining support as Massachusetts lawmakers reconvene today…" LINK

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