The Note: Mystery Training

Although Dubai ports deal is effectively dead, the Wall Street Journal's Hitt and King remind us that Republicans are still worrying about the effect the deal has had on their national security profile and commercial interests are still worrying about its effect on foreign investment.

The Journal also says that Lou Dobbs and Michael Savage want to see the fine print on the actual deal.

The New York Times' tick-tock: The Washington Post on NOD: The Financial Times reports that few buyers meet requirements for "US entity." Big Casino budget politics:

Although funding for the Iraq war will likely remain intact, political insiders are predicting a squeeze on the over half-trillion dollars reserved in the budget for defense, reports the Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes in a must-read for the knowing.

On a party-line vote, the Senate Budget Committee approved yesterday a "scaled-back version of President Bush's budget, shorn of signature initiatives such as tax relief and cuts to federal benefit programs such as Medicare." Politics of surveillance:

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus reports that those who participated in yesterday's first meeting of the new seven-senator intelligence subcommittee created to review the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program were "close-mouthed" afterwards. The Des Moines Register editorial board cautions on the presumption that Congress "is finally standing up to President Bush," arguing that blocking the ports deal "requires no political courage whatsoever" and pointing out that in regards to the NSA wiretapping program, "which involves a threat to the Constitution itself," Congress "as usual, caved in to pressure from the White House and shirked a clear duty." LINK

The Abramoff affair:

Philip Shenon of the New York Times explores an Indian tribe's $25,000 payment to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform at Jack Abramoff's urging just prior to the tribal leader gaining access to a White House meeting in May 2001. Norquist's spokesman says there was no quid pro quo. "The transaction could also focus further attention on Mr. Norquist's group, which is already under scrutiny by the Justice Department and Congressional investigators over its ties to Mr. Abramoff," writes Shenon.

Abramoff's custom wheels, also in the New York Times: DeLay:

Rep. DeLay's campaign is saying that the recent Vanity Fair interview with Jack Abramoff show DeLay hadn't done anything illegal, reports Michael Hedges of the Houston Chronicle. In the Vanity Fair interview, Abramoff said, "I didn't spend a lot of time lobbying Tom for things, because the things I worked on were usually consistent with the conservative philosophy, and I knew Tom would be supportive."

Politics of immigration:

The Senate moves ahead and agrees on further fencing in Arizona to help manage immigration issues. LINK

Nicole Gaouette of the Los Angeles Times brings you up to date on the flurry of immigration activity occurring in the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of the March 27 deadline set by Dr./Sen./Leader Frist. LINK

Abortion politics:

Iowa gubernatorial candidates Chet Culver (D-IA) and Ed Fallon (D-IA) joined a rally yesterday to protest the South Dakota abortion ban, writes Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register. LINK

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