The Note: A Minuet of Scorpions

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10

NEWS SUMMARY

At 9:30 am ET, Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) was gaveling Day Two of the Alito hearings into session. (Note: we love that 24/7 journalistic verb tense.)

Mandatory guess for all Note readers right now: will the network ledes tonight be:

A. Alito has the votes to be confirmed.

B. Abortion is the big issue.

C. Alito is no Roberts.

D. National security versus civil liberties is the big issue.

E. Democratic Senators are bullies.

F. None of the above.

G. Ed Gillespie is a genius.

Lock in your answer now, take the TV off of mute and enjoy the three-branch constitutional high-tech non-lynching.

Specter was to lead off the first round of questioning. Each of the 18 members on the Judiciary panel will be given 30 minutes. The committee will break for lunch at 12:30 pm and dinner at 6:00 pm ET. If necessary, the questioning could continue past 7:00 pm ET.

In non-Alito news, President Bush will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Washington DC at 10:15 am ET.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports that President Bush will address steps being taken to ensure that Iraq's police forces "adhere to the highest ethical standards."

Teeing up the boss' remarks, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "We've seen some recent news reports of a few, or some, who have engaged in abuses of the prison system. And I think the President will talk about the training that we are providing to the police forces, and human rights, and rule of law. And he will talk about how we're increasing the forces, too."

Earlier today, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) appeared exclusively on "Good Morning America" from her home in Chappaqua, NY to discuss her call for an investigation into body armor for troops in Iraq. Clinton told ABC's Diane Sawyer that the insufficient body armor was "unforgivable and unacceptable" and hammered President Bush and Vice President Cheney for continuing to "isolate themselves from various points of view," but she refused to call for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) delivers his final "Condition of the State" address at 11:00 am ET in Des Moines, IA. Vilsack is expected to call for higher teacher pay, helping small businesses pay for health insurance, improving water quality, and increasing the cigarette tax.

Govs. Codey (D-NJ) and Gregoire (D-WA) also do their State of the State thing today.

In Sacramento, CA, (the recently-stitched-up) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) unveils his 2006-07 budget proposal at 4:00 pm ET.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) provides a (closed press) state economic update at a meeting of "Jobs for Massachusetts."

As part of his tour of Red States, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) visits Phoenix, AZ and Denver, CO today. Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America's Future and David Donnelly of Public Campaign Action Fund will join forces today to unveil a relatively small ($100K-ish) advertising campaign in television, radio, and billboard ads targeting Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH). The TV ads call on DeLay to resign. The radio spot and the billboard target Ney. The ad campaign is part of a year-long effort to hang the corruption charge around GOP necks. The Houston Chronicle has more. LINK

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