WASHINGTON, June 16
East Hampton, June 16, 2006 -- Greetings from The Note's Long Island summer compound.
Today's Note marks our last edition until Monday, September 4th, when we return with full coverage of that months's key primaries and the November midterm elections. JUST KIDDING.
President Bush raises money for Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and the Washington State Republican Party at a private reception in Medina, WA at 1:50 pm ET. Rep. Reichert is being challenged by former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner. Admission to the Medina reception with President Bush is $1,000, photographs with the President are $10,000, and the event should yield at least $500,000, the AP reports. LINK
In an effort to "highlight his centrist credentials," Rep. Reichert released a statement yesterday, saying, "Although the president and I don't agree on everything, I have great respect for the tremendous responsibility the leader of the free world must bear every day."
President Bush then travels to Albuquerque, NM to raise money for Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) who is being challenged by Attorney General Patricia Madrid. When the President visits Albuquerque, a group will "denounce" Rep. Wilson's voting record while others will fly black balloons on Civic Plaza to protest what they say is her "coziness" with the President, the AP reports. LINK
There is no way that White House reporters will Note a return of the President's swagger and political chops on this swing. JUST KIDDING.
No Hill aide in either party has thought in the last 12 hours about going to work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. JUST KIDDING.
And for the sake of fairness, it's nice to see the Democrats in the House and Senate finally coming up with a unified position on Iraq that is a political winner and expresses their heartfelt views about American policy. JUST KIDDING.
And just in time for today's 11:00 am ET vote on the non-binding Iraq resolution. The resolution declares that the United States must complete "the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq" without setting "an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of U.S. troops. Congress watchers expect there to be more Democrats voting "yes" (somewhere in the 35 to 48 range) than Republicans voting "no." The "yes" votes are expected to include Rep. (and Senate candidate) Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN), who declared his intentions while calling into Don Imus' program this morning, during which he was very polite and made it clear he is a regular listener of the show.
On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate resumes consideration of the $517.7 billion fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill (S. 2766). No roll call votes are expected.
Democratic leaders are holding a 10:15 am ET press conference in the Mansfield Room of the US Capitol to discuss the "New Direction" they intend to pursue if they regain control of Congress in the fall (i.e., hike the minimum wage, cut the interest rate on student loans, restore PAYGO rules, eliminate subsidies to Big Oil, allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, help Americans save for their retirement while blocking efforts to privatize Social Security, etc.).
Democrats were originally going to do this event earlier in the week but postponed it when the President scheduled a bipartisan, bicameral meeting with congressional leaders at their scheduled time. The House Appropriations Committee voted to increase the minimum wage this week and the issue will come before the full House soon.
On the heels of policy addresses concerning the economy and energy, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) delivers a 9:00 am ET policy address on privacy at the American Constitution Society's 2006 National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill. She then heads to New York City where she speaks at the City Year Annual Convention of Idealism at 4:00 pm ET and the 2006 "Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business" at 7:15 pm ET. While Sen. Clinton talks policy at the ACS Convention, her husband handles the politics in Denver, CO, raising money for the Colorado Democratic Party.
Showing off his Blue State appeal, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD) in Baltimore, MD.
Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) attends the annual GOParty Picnic in Des Moines, IA. The Iowa Democratic Party holds its annual Hall of Fame dinner in Des Moines, IA.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) join Senate candidate Jon Tester for a "Path to Victory" tour through Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, and Billings, MT. While Democrats barnstorm the state, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman speaks to the Montana Republican State Convention at 8:45 pm ET.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) holds a media availability after highlighting his proposal to enhance school counseling services for middle and high school students at 1:00 pm ET in San Diego, CA. In a Thursday night missive to reporters, Nick Papas of the Angelides campaign is accusing Schwarzenegger of "reluctantly" embracing an idea that the Democratic gubernatorial nominee has been pushing since Jan. 4.
At the Brookings Institution today, SEIU President Andy Stern calls on business and elected leaders to partner with SEIU to create a new health care system. After Stern discusses the union position on health care, the employer perspective will be presented by Costco Senior Vice President John Matthews, and National Small Business Association President Todd McCracken.
At 10:30 am ET today, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) won't have to ask "where's my Puppems" because Splash, the Portugese Water Terrier who is simultaneously the light of the Senator's life and a terror to the women on Kennedy's staff, will be seated next to one another at PS 11 in New York City. Sen. Kennedy and Splash will be reading from, "My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C."
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) delivers the commencement address at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL at 7:00 pm ET.
The Democratic Caucus voted, 99-58, on Thursday to recommend that Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) be ousted from the powerful Ways and Means Committee because of mounting evidence against him in a federal corruption probe. At 2:00 pm ET, Thomas Hogan, the chief judge of the US District Court in Washington, DC, hears arguments in response to a suit filed by the General Counsel of the House of Representatives against the Justice Department to return the documents and computer files seized by the FBI on the search of Rep. Jefferson's office.
ABC News' Jason Ryan reports that the House counsel is expected to say the speech and debate clause has been violated and that members of Congress should be informed when a search will be executed. The Justice Department attorneys will say that they took special steps to ensure none of the prosecutors reviewed any items covered by the speech and debate clause. The government may also state that members of Congress should not be afforded special rights greater than the citizens they represent. Rep. Jefferson is not expected to be at the hearing. Pursuant to President Bush's order that they be sealed, the documents are currently in the Solicitor General's office.
The big political event this weekend is the Iowa Republican Party's convention which will feature Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), and Sen. George Allen (R-VA). More from the Iowa City Press-Citizen. LINK
For his part, Sen. McCain raises money for Chris Wakim in Wheeling, WVA while Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) visits New Hampshire, and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) begins a two-week official visit to Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
Politics of Iraq:
"The new Republican drive to focus attention on the Iraq war represents a high-stakes gamble: that doubts about the direction Democrats might set on national security exceed anxieties about the course charted by President Bush," writes Ron Brownstein in his mega-must -read Los Angeles Times analysis. LINK
More Brownstein: "'We think we can win that debate,' said one senior GOP strategist familiar with White House thinking, who requested anonymity when discussing internal party deliberations. 'We won it in 2004, and the Iraq war was not particularly popular then. It is better when we debate other people instead of debating events.'"
In his New York Post op-ed column, John Podhoretz Notes the failure for Democrats to include any item relating to Iraq or the war on terror in their "New Direction for America" agenda. LINK
"Democratic politicians are, for the most part, emotionally opposed to continuing the effort in Iraq. But they are basically neutral about it as a matter of policy. This is why they could not agree on a plank in their new Contract With America dealing with the most important issue facing the nation. That's blatant political cowardice, and voters don't like cowards," writes Podhoretz.
While Noting the way in which Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to skewer Democrats by bringing up Sen. Kerry's amendment, the Washington Post's Weisman and Babington write that although the votes are not binding to President Bush, the debates put politicians on the record on a key issue that Democrats have had a hard time establishing a consensus over. LINK
The Los Angeles Times coverage of the debate includes this key, sage quote: "'Frankly, I believe their real challenge is that they have no common unified position on Iraq as a party,' said Rep Tom Cole (R-Okla.). 'Whether we are right or wrong on our side of the aisle, we do have a common position, and it's expressed in this resolution.'" LINK
The Columbus Dispatch Notes that both Sen. Kerry and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) were in the minority on the vote on the Kerry amendment and promise further debate next week. LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe called the debates "more a tune-up for the fall congressional campaigns than a high-minded discussion of US foreign policy." LINK
The Washington Times: LINK
The Columbus Dispatch: "Ohio Lawmakers Show Partisan Split Over Value of Debate" LINK
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Kucinich: To the Streets, the Campuses, and Out of the Graveyards!" LINK
VPOTUS on Hannity:
In an interview on Sean Hannity's radio program, Vice President Cheney said Thursday that GOPers will prevail in the midterm elections because of a strong economy and the ability of the Bush Administration to prevent another terrorist attack. LINK
"You can't guarantee there won't be further attacks," said Cheney, "but I think the track record is remarkable."
Per the New York Times, House Democrats voted Thursday night to strip Rep. Jefferson of a key committee position "as they tried to avoid any taint of scandal in a year when they want to ride accusations of Republican corruption to election victories."LINK
Roll Call has Rep. Jefferson's reaction: "Unfortunately, Minority Leader Pelosi wants so badly to win leadership in the House that she has persuaded the Caucus to sacrifice my constituents -- who, after Katrina, need my leadership on my committee more than ever." LINK
Bloomberg News has Rep. Jefferson saying: "It's never happened before and the first time it's happened it is to an African-American … It does raise issues." LINK
Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times explores the Congressional Black Caucus opposition to the overall Democratic caucus decision to remove Jefferson from Ways and Means. LINK
The New York Times takes a closer look at the Office of General Counsel for the House of Representatives. LINK
Big Casino budget politics:
Linking the Iraq debate with the budget debate, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers writes: "Congress sent President Bush billions of dollars more for the war in Iraq even as lawmakers debated into the night over how long the U.S. can afford to keep troops there."
The President signed what members of Congress hope will be the last emergency supplemental to fund the war. Due to the McCain amendment that passed 98-0 yesterday, the Administration will now be required to submit its war funding budget requests as part of the regular appropriations process. Here's the New York Times' Robert Pear. LINK
Most of the emergency spending bill approved yesterday will go toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to "storm-recovery costs," avian flu, and border security, reports the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray. LINK
Duluth News Tribune: "Emergency Bill Includes Darfur Money" LINK
Karl Rove granted only one New Hampshire interview in advance of his trip up there this week and that was to the conservative Victory NH citizen activist network. In the interview Rove declares Mike Pence's immigration plan as "an interesting approach." Rove also has some praise for Rep. Regula's (R-OH) approach to earmark reform. You can read the interview in its entirety here: LINK
Politics of immigration:
The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that the WSJ/NBC poll shows that over half of all Americans now support President Bush's approach on immigration.
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff stresses the importance of workplace immigration enforcement, in the form of an op-ed in the Washington Times. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
Per Greg Hitt of the Wall Street Journal, President Bush will be pushing for further global trade talks during his visit to Europe next week.
Steven Weisman of the New York Times profiles the new US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and the immediate difficult task before her. LINK
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) continued his criticism of the Bush Administration yesterday, calling into question President Bush's use of "signing statements" to exempt himself from certain pieces of legislation, reports Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes looks at whether 2006 will be 1994 and appears unconvinced. To wit: the GOP being less complacent this year than Democrats were 12 years ago, fewer competitive seats, the Social Security failure coming in 2005 instead of 2006, the friction with Chairman Dean, and the outcome of the CA-50 special election. On the other hand, Democrats only need 15 seats to regain a majority this year; in 1994, GOPers needed around 40 seats. LINK
Charlie Cook is clearly not afraid of provoking Bill Burton's ire.
In his National Journal column, Cook writes: "Given the fickleness of public opinion, it's probably risky to say this, but it looks like President Bush's free fall has bottomed out, as have other key indicators that were trending against Republicans. Combined with last week's Republican victory in the special election in California's 50th Congressional District (an almost near-death experience for the GOP), the improving poll numbers for Bush and his party should give Democrats reason to pause and Republicans reason to get out of bed in the morning."
More Cook: "The situation remains very serious for Republicans, but perhaps not quite as bad as it looked a month ago, and we still have more than four months to go before Election Day."
The Note idolizes Cook, but we would have made that "and" an "and/but."
Tom Bevan columnizes in the Chicago Sun-Times today that while the Democrats' Karl Rove frog marching fantasy will remain just that, much can change for either party between now and November. LINK
Though he cautions against demography as destiny, Timothy Egan of the New York Times examines the voting patterns of people in inner suburbs, outer suburbs, and exurbs and efforts in both parties to use those patterns to their electoral advantage. LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Sandalow analyzes Leader Pelosi's ability to hold her caucus together in the face of intra-party fighting over Iraq, the decision to remove Rep. Jefferson (D-LA), and Murtha's decision to challenge Hoyer (D-MD) if the Democrats take the House in November. Such divisions are making it difficult for Pelosi's Democrats to present a "unified front" a la Contract for America; when questioned about the issue of disunity, Pelosi replied, "That's just not true. That's simply not true. I hate to disappoint you, it's simply not true." LINK
The Herald Tribune's Jeremy Wallace reports that Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) has been cited by the FEC for her acceptance of 26 donations over the legal limit of $2,100 per individual during the Republican primary, amounting to more than $60,000 in question (and a third strike against a politician who has twice before accepted illegal campaign donations). LINK
Political bigwigs filed out in tow to a fundraiser for Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) hosted by "the ultimate political celebrity," Sen. Clinton at her Washington home. LINK
Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) has a 4-to-1 fundraising advantage over Republican challenger Lynn Swann. LINK
The New York Post's Deb Orin writes up a new poll on potential '08ers with some frightening results. LINK
The New York Daily News' DeFrank gives the Fox poll some play too: LINK
In Dallas yesterday, "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) told local business leaders that he's upbeat about the GOP's prospects in November while touting his party's agenda.
When asked once again whether he'll run in 2008, Giuliani smiled and said coyly, "Who knows what will happen in 2008? I'm working on 2006." LINK
An editorial in the Baxter Bulletin chides Gov. Huckabee for promoting "nanny government" with his call for health restrictions on pregnant women . LINK
The Washington Times has former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) at Wednesday's "Save Venice" benefit. LINK
The Des Moines Register on Gov. Vilsack's inaugural trip to New Hampshire. LINK
James Pindell of PolitiscNH.com has state Rep. Bette Lasky saying: "I didn't have any real expectations [of Vilsack]. But I can't remember the last time a candidate has held the attention of a crowd the way he did." LINK
With an introduction that lauded her as a "blessing," Sen. Clinton "testified" to the Katrina Justice Commission in a church basement near the Capitol on Thursday. In her shortened speech (an aide unexpectedly whisked her back to the Senate after 8 minutes), she called POTUS' and FEMA's reaction to Katrina a "disaster in and of itself" and an "indictment" of the administration. "Those of us who come at this from the political sphere and the faith sector," she added, "Know that we have an obligation...a responsibility that we are expected to fill for one another." She then cited her trips to New Orleans and Houston -- "with my husband" -- as evidence that she understand that obligation and has worked to fulfill her responsibility.
Al Gore, not a candidate for anything, by intention:
Pretty soon, we are going to have to stop covering Al Gore in The Note, what with his not being a politician, but old habits (such as telling Shoney's jokes) are hard to break.
Gore was the keynote speaker at the Silverdocs film festival yesterday afternoon in beautiful downtown Silver Spring, MD. Following a presentation of the trailer for "An Inconvenient Truth," AFI's Jean Picker Firstenberg introduced Montgomery County executive and gubernatorial candidate Doug Duncan who introduced Silverdocs' Patricia Finnerman who introduced global superwoman and Silver Spring mascot Judith McHale of Discovery, Inc., who introduced "soldier, journalist . . . Senator, Vice President, force for good, former President of the United States [big cheer]" Al Gore.
Gore, looking well-groomed and well-turned out in a dark suit and blue tie, took the stage, and having had his biggest laugh line ("I used to be the next President of the United States") stolen by his celluloid self in the "AIT" trailer, launched into an expert, oft-told, prolonged comedic set on the topic of being a non-former-next-POTUS (the motorcadeless drive through Tennessee and the Shoney's story, complete with the "I don't think its funny" line, the frantic message on the tarmac, etc).
The audience responded with lots of approving laughter and open regret at what might/should have been (the crowd was composed of Gore's core base of rich environmentalists and up-and-coming film makers). Seeming less like the guy who used to be the next POTUS, and more like everyone's favorite college philosophy professor, Gore transitioned from shout-outs to Don Baer to mentions of Galileo, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Thomas Paine, Harry Potter, Columbus, Gutenberg, "King . . . George" ("Did I misplace a tenth of a second?"), the Founding Fathers, Saturday Night Live, and an extended discussion of the nature of democracy and the threat of "questions of fact becoming questions of power."
Gore then detailed the new landscape of "hatred as entertainment," and the respective influences of television and the Internet. After showing a clip from Current TV (appropriately adorable, hip, moving, modern), and suggesting that a return to the conversation of democracy will eventually conquer the worldwide mortal and moral threats of global warming and genocide, Gore departed, leaving in his wake one adoring audience, two standing ovations, and three, four, five, six, seven sharp digs at President Bush.
During his presentation, Gore offered up a number of questions about the present worrisome nature of America ("Did I hear a murmur?"), involving torture, the loss of civil rights, and innumerable other outrages (which went unnamed: "We don't have enough time").
If Mike Feldman was there, he was wearing a disguise, which begs all sorts of questions.
In (un)related news, despite the rousing release of "An Inconvenient Truth," 42% of Americans still view Al Gore unfavorably, reports the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire.
Politics of homeland security:
Per Lindsey Layton of the Washington Post, Washington and New York shouldn't hope to get any increase in their allotment of counter-terrorism funding from the Department of Homeland Security. LINK
Politics of the flag:
Per the St. Petersburg Times, Dr./Leader/Sen. Bill Frist's (R-TN) proposed amendment to protect the American flag from desecration was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday and moves to the Senate, where it will likely be voted on this month. LINK
The Washington Times on the alliance between MoveOn and Christian Coalition on the Net Neutrality issue. LINK
The Union Leader's indefatigable John Distaso keeps the phone-jamming controversy alive and reports that a case will go to trial in November. LINK
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) slammed the Department of Homeland Security for awarding a contract to a Duke Cunningham-recommended limousine company. The Los Angeles Times has details. LINK
House of Labor:
In an effort to continue its significant growing trend and offer hope to union workers, the Service Employees National Union has recently looked to Arizona's Radiant Church as a model to better "fit the times" and boost membership.LINK
CNN's still-inexplicably decision to cancel granddaddy "Inside Politics" has still not been digested by the Gang of 500. Sure, those with computers or classy cable and satellite service have become addicted to ABC News Now's "Politics Live," with Sam Donaldson and his Sidekick, at 1:35 pm ET LINK. Now, straight out of the Woodruff-Hunt household comes another attempt to fill the void.
Bloomberg News will launch a new weekend television show from Washington this Saturday, June 17: "Political Capital with Al Hunt." It will feature analysis of the top political, economic and international stories from Bloomberg reporters in Washington and around the world; "Simon Says" -- a political debriefing from Roger Simon, Bloomberg's chief political reporter; an interview with a prominent newsmaker -- Sen. Obama this week, and a "Last Word" debate between Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson or Michelle Cottle.
Those in the know have been reading the text version of "Simon Says" for years -- it is sort of a cross between Erma Bombeck, Richard Daley, and Jeff Zeleny's e-mail traffic.
Bloomberg television, of course, is carried in about half the cable homes around the country and also early mornings on the E! network which can be seen on virtually every cable system. More than 25 million additional homes can get Bloomberg on satellite. Because the key to Bloomberg is ametorization, "Political Capital" will air numerous times on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 6:30am (EST) and including 7:30 and 10:30pm on Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoon.
In an unusual turn of events, Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) has provoked the ire of more than a few Congressmen, including Republicans, with his steadfast opposition to opening any of Florida's waters to oil drilling, Lesley Clark details in the Miami Herald. LINK
The AP has Speaker Hastert's defense in profits he made from a land sale. LINK
The New York Post's Page Six reports on the "Sheekey for President" signs present at the Bloomberg Deputy Mayor's 40th birthday bash at City Hall. LINK
Per the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire, Sen. Reid will be hosting: "Your Congress" on PoliticsTv.com, the new Web-based network aimed at "the left."