The Note: The Boy Looking for the Pony

WASHINGTON, March 2 --


In the face of another news cycle of pessimism about the fate of 2005 Social Security reform, the President has:

-- the boundless optimism of Nicolle Devenish and Trent Duffy.

-- that new Treasury-based war room, staffed with very talented people.

-- more upcoming presidential travel.

-- the focus of some of the best minds in the Administration.

-- (despite yesterday's Frist and Grassley remarks), no clear, broad-based attempts by Republican members of Congress to win the LaHood Award on this matter (yet).

-- Rick Santorum's pitbull/"pair of trousers in his mouth" metaphor about the President's determination.

-- some nifty new talking points responding to anti-Bush attacks.

-- the millions of dollars in the pipeline to be spent by the outside allied groups, along with stepped up high-profile surrogate activity.

In tomorrow's Note, we will publish the formula (created by Matthew Dowd, Jack Oliver, and some University of Texas grad students) that shows how all of the above could trump the forces allied against reform.

And/but given that everyone involves agreed that Social Security reform has to be bipartisan to pass, we wonder if it might have been smart/nice if even ONE Republican Senator had gone to the salute to Tom Daschle last night -- even as just a purely cynical, tactical gambit.


For a moment, we lost our heads.

Back to reality.

President Bush heads to Arnold, MD for a conversation about job training at Anne Arundel Community College at 10:35 am ET. At 2:00 pm, the President participates in the ceremony at the Capitol honoring Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson with the Congressional Gold Medal. Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, accepts the award.

At 3:30 pm ET, Bush is back at the White House for a photo op with World Series Baseball Champion Boston Red Sox.

Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) drafted the legislation honoring Robinson with the award, and Kerry will be on hand for both that ceremony and the Red Sox photo op -- the first time he and President Bush may be close enough to interact publicly.

At 6:00 pm ET, Vice President Cheney attends the American Enterprise Institute's annual dinner and lecture.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies before the House Budget Committee at 10:00 am ET.

House Republicans and Democrats hold their closed-door party conferences at 9:00 am ET. At 10:00 am ET, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, and Rep. Anne Northrup follow up with a stakeout to talk about Social Security.

At 1:00 pm ET, Sens. Reid, Schumer, Stabenow, and Baucus join Rock the Vote Washington Director Hans Riemer and some college students to assert that not all young people support the President's Social Security plan, and to use the Social Security calculator to look at how their future benefits could be cut.

At 11:00 am ET,'s Eli Pariser, Tom Matzzie, and Laura Dawn hold a conference call to announce the launch of their new national contest to produce a Macromedia Flash animation, game, or interactive application that shows how President Bush's plan for personal accounts will affect -- or in their words, "gut" -- the Social Security system. And like last year's "Bush in 30 Seconds" TV ad contest, this one has celebrity judges -- which is one of the reasons we're sure so many people clicked instantly when the name "Cusack" showed up in their inboxes. The judges: actor/activist John Cusack, "Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder, Al Franken, and Arianna Huffington. LINK

Gen. James Jones Jr., commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; Gen. John Abizaid, commander, U.S. Central Command; Gen. Bryan Brown, commander, United States Special Operations Command, testify before the House Armed Services Committee at 10:00 am ET.

At 9:15 am ET, the Senate continues its debate on the bankruptcy bill.

The House Appropriations Committee considers the Pentagon budget at 1:30 pm ET.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testifies on his department's budget at 2:00 pm ET.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marks up the Clear Skies Act at 9:30 am ET.

Today, Rep. Marty Meehan plans to introduce legislation to repeal the ban on gays in the military. Forty cosponsors are on board, accordiing to Meehan' s spokesman.

Social Security:

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon looks at the careful backpedaling by Senate Majority Leader Frist and House Majority Leader DeLay on whether the President's Social Security plan can make it through Congress this year. LINK

The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Chuck Babington analyze the Frist bomb and seem not to have found one Republican in the entire universe to say something optimistic.

"That a politician as closely allied to the White House as Frist would even raise the possibility of putting off the proposal until next year -- possibly dooming it -- was an unexpected blow to the administration." LINK

"In another sign of the difficulty in selling the package Bush has outlined, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a radio interview that he thinks workers should be able to divert only about half as much in payroll taxes to new personal investment accounts as the White House has suggested. Under Bush's proposal, workers younger than 55 who opt to participate in the program would be able to divert as much as 4 percent of income subject to Social Security taxation into individual investment accounts, beginning in 2009."

Writes Dick Stevenson in the New York Times, "Democrats, apparently feeling little political pressure to come up with a plan of their own or work across the aisle, remain remarkably united against the main element of Mr. Bush's plan: his call for private investment accounts to be carved out of Social Security payroll taxes." LINK

"Noting that it had been only a month since the State of the Union speech, Nicolle Devenish, the White House communications director, said: 'If you look at what the president has been able to do in terms of elevating the issue, explaining a program riddled with terms like 'bend points' that are hard for busy families to wrap their brains around, the intensity with which we have engaged in the public campaign and the legislative process, we feel good about where we are. But we recognize there is much more to be done.'"

"Asked what Mr. Bush intended to do to keep the issue moving forward and bring some Democrats to his side, Ms. Devenish said: 'The president believes that once everyone has coalesced around the belief that there's a problem that has to be addressed, it will be something that invigorates members of both parties. Without the understanding and acceptance among the American public that we have to act now to strengthen Social Security, it will be very difficult to get to that point.'"

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein has more on the Democratic Social Security road show, and Notes that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says congressional Republicans didn't hold enough town meetings to sell the President's plan over the President's Day recess. LINK

Bloomberg's Brendan Murray and Heidi Przybyla take a great look at the role Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is playing in the Social Security campaign.

After surveying the political operation that is working to get the President's bidness done, the duo get this:

"'It seems to be about selling rather than listening,' says Paul O'Neill, Bush's first Treasury secretary. 'If it just turns out to be an athletic contest, then it's worthless.'"

And this:

"'We were told automatically to stop people that had protest signs, or any type of sign, and if they tried getting that in then we would ask to see their ticket and then rip it up,' says Jesse Branch, a 21-year-old volunteer usher at a rally Bush held in Great Falls, Montana, which was attended by Rove."

Steve Moore's Free Enterprise Fund sent a memo Tuesday to conservative activists full of criticism for the Administration's campaign to sell its Social Security initiatives and for those who oppose personal retirement accounts.

It was written by FEF economist Larry Hunter.


"It's puzzling why the Administration isn't selling personal retirement accounts to the American public the way Ronald Reagan would have: on the grounds that the accounts will make workers' retirement more secure and more prosperous. Instead, the Administration lumbers about like a machine animated by the ghosts of David Stockman and Richard Darman opening the president to the charge that he wants seniors to give up a sure thing for a 'risky scheme;' making a collectivist appeal for communal sacrifice; preaching that a good dose of pain and suffering is the price workers must pay to 'make Social Security solvent;' and ridiculing personal-accounts advocates who believe otherwise as the 'free lunch crowd.'"

"If one starts with the objective of making an inherently contradictory program solvent, he ends up with proposals that contradict the original intent, namely to place Social Security on a sound, market-based footing that increases retirement security and raises the standard of living for America's retirees."

"Large personal retirement accounts are the only economically sound, permanent solution to Social Security's solvency problem, and they don't have to be paid for by cutting future benefits, increasing taxes or raising the retirement age. So-called 'transition costs' (which seem to have spooked the Administration into preemptive concessions on the size of accounts, benefit cuts, giving consideration to tax increases and hiking the retirement age) are a chimera, today's version of the deficit ogre that Democrats and austere Republicans tried to terrify the American public with before Reagan proved them wrong."

Democratic Senators are hitting the road to make their own Social Security arguments, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's office announced yesterday. As we reported in yesterday's Note, the first event is a 10:00 am ET barnburner on Friday, with Sens. Clinton, Schumer, Reid, Durbin, Dorgan, and Kerry at Pace University in New York City. At 2:00 pm ET that day, Sens. Reid, Durbin, and Dorgan join Gov. Ed Rendell and Reps. Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, and Allyson Schwartz at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

On Saturday, Reid, Durbin, and Dorgan head for Phoenix, where they join Rep. Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva at 1:00 pm ET. Then the Senators Three hit the bright lights of Vegas for a 5:00 pm ET event at UNLV.


The NGA meetings concluded Tuesday with no agreement on Medicaid and lots of promises to work toward one and lots of hints about shared "principles," the Washington Post's CCC and Dan Balz report. LINK

We are honestly not sure just what "principles" the governors and the Administration have agreed to, especially since the sticking points -- more Medicaid versus less, the appropriateness of certain state Medicaid decisions which trigger federal money -- seem rooted in a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the program.

Writes Robert Pear in the New York Times: LINK

"After conversations with most governors, Mr. Leavitt said he saw agreement emerging on these points: Medicaid is 'overpaying for prescription drugs.' Parents should not be able to obtain Medicaid coverage for nursing home care by voluntarily impoverishing themselves and transferring assets to their children. 'Governors should be able to charge co-payments to Medicaid recipients, based on their income, and should be able to manage care and costs by using the tools available to private insurers.' State officials should have more freedom to decide which benefits will be provided. Medicaid should recognize home and community-based care as 'a preferred alternative' to nursing homes.

"However, interviews with numerous governors suggest that the consensus described by Mr. Leavitt does not exist."

Sarah Lueck's Wall Street Journal Medicaid story is wire-y and it puts Bill Richardson in the third graph, as the voice of the party.

The Manchester Union Leader's Garry Rayno writes that Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) reported back from the governors' meeting that the federal help some in the Granite State were hoping for on Medicaid won't be forthcoming. LINK

A guy who founded the Center for Health Transformation named "Newt Gingrich" opines in the Washington Post on Medicaid: "America's Medicaid program isn't working. A 'money only' debate would be an exercise in futility and -- more tragically -- would trap the most vulnerable people in our society in a hopelessly broken system. Transforming Medicaid is a moral imperative." LINK

Bush agenda:

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger look at the ripples President Bush's comments yesterday made about letting federally funded religious charities make hiring decisions based on their employees' religous faiths, promising that if Congress didn't pass the initiative, he'd consider an executive order. LINK

USA Today's Richard Benedetto takes a slightly broader view of the President's remarks. LINK

The Washington Post's Baker and Cooperman waited patiently (eight paragraphs!!!) to get David Kuo's reaction to the President's vow to pursue his faith-based agenda. LINK

Big casino budget politics:

Re: the Administration's emergency supplemental defense bill: With friends like Jeff Sessions, John Warner and Trent Lott . . . LINK

AP's Alan Fram takes a look at just how scary the as-yet unaddressed Medicare funding problems are. LINK

Judicial politics:

The Wall Street Journal's ed board slams Mr. Justice Kennedy really hard for his death penalty decision, and says the silver lining is that his revealed "Blue State" sensibilities rules him out to be elevated to Chief.

Ambitious Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott places a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined "Thou Shall Not Mess with Texas" about his argument today before the SCOTUS on the Ten Commandments.

The Los Angeles Times' Henry Weinstein wraps the letter from freshman Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) to President Bush to drop his judicial nominees as the Senate began looking at the first of his re-nominees, William G. Myers III. LINK

The Myers stories uniformly suggest that both parties are still headed to the barricades, each believing it can win the filibuster-versus-nuclear/constitutional-option showdown with the MSM and the public.


The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds wraps the Senate's action on Tuesday to exempt active-duty military and veterans from provisions of the bill to make it harder for Americans to erase their debt by declaring bankruptcy. LINK

These are the comments that got Howard Stern in a lather this morning. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) yesterday told the National Association of Broadcasters that indecency laws should cover cable and satellite broadcasters as well as the public airwaves. We're a little unclear how this would keep government small, fulfill the demands of the marketplace, or keep government out of the business of raising children, but we're sure we'll hear more, since surely this wasn't a stunt to get news coverage. LINK

Wonder if the Washington Times would refer to Sen. Kennedy's or Sen. Reid's "claws." LINK

Roll Call's Paul Kane and Ben Pershing detail the reach-out-and-make-nice cross-chamber efforts among Republicans, debuted yesterday by House Majority Leader DeLay's attendance at the Senate Republican luncheon.

Bush Administration:

The Wall Street Journal blares: "Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz pulled out of contention for World Bank president, as White House attention turned to former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Carly Fiorina as a potential candidate to lead the multilateral institution."

Which would seem to make obsolete part of the New York Times' report that Carly Fiornia and Paul Wolfowitz are two top candidates for World Bank President. LINK

The House of Labor and Gov. Dean:

Today, the executive committee of the executive council of the AF of L, CI of O meets in executive session, and it is there, says one prominent union president, "that s—t will be done."

Members are likely to consider a proposal circulated yesterday to AFL-CIO union political directors that would fix the two-year budget for the labor group's political activities first and then consider changes in how much money the labor umbrella group takes from its members.

That sounds arcane, but it is perhaps the most newsworthy happening of the winter meeting so far because it serves as a surrogate for a much larger debate.

If the measure gains support, it would stall efforts by unions like the Teamsters, SEIU and the Laborers to rebate up to 50 percent of the money given to the AFL-CIO back to member unions for organizing. And that would slow down the labor group's crawl to change its ways, which many unions admit is necessary and, to borrow a Las Vegas phrase, in the cards regardless of what happens this week. (The actual "s—t" gets done at the AFL-CIO's conference in July, when unions' votes are weighted by the size of their membership, which is not the case at this meeting.)

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney circulated a plan to rebate a small portion of the money the labor federation gets, which one of his aides said would free up as much as $15 million for organizing. Not surprisingly, all three participants in an AFL-CIO sponsored-press conference about organizing said they opposed proposals to rebate 50 percent of dues. And Gerald McEntee, the AFL-CIO's outspoken political chair, claimed that labor's effort to defeat President Bush's Social Security proposals would have been complicated had the union begun to rebate dues two years ago. McEntee wants union reform efforts devoted to politics and legislative action. He supports other ways to expand organizing.

The union that has among the most success in organizing over the past few years and who spent the most on politics is the dissident SEIU, and it was not represented at the press conferences Tuesday. The SEIU and other unions want a larger rebate -- as much as 50 percent -- which they say would give unions $50 million to organize workers. SEIU and its allies say that labor should prioritize growth; without a larger national presence, it's going to be difficult to elect labor-friendly politicians to office, they argue.

Smaller unions seemed to like Sweeney's proposal because most of them rely on the big AFL-CIO bureaucracy in Washington for much of their political and legislative activities. Most of the bigger unions who support a much larger dues rebate have their own political program, their own legislative affairs shop, their own strategic planners, and don't need the AFL-CIO to help them.

So that was Tuesday.

On Monday, per the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse, "Tensions grew so fierce . . . that [SEIU President Andy] Stern swore at Mr. McEntee at a committee meeting when they were arguing about which union should organize 45,000 child-care workers in the Midwest." LINK

Be sure to read Greenhouse's primer in full, which includes Andy Stern's somewhat pessimistic blog entry.

(We witnessed Stern and McEntee heartily shake hands later that night, for what it's worth.)

DNC Chairman Howard Dean addressed the executive committee in the morning and by all accounts did not make news. He stressed his now-familiar promises to strengthen state Democratic parties and said he wants to improve ties between state parties and state labor councils.

He answered about a dozen questions from reporters afterward, deftly deflecting a Jeff Gannon-like* query about why the labor movement was silent on Iraq and Afghanistan.

(* = the questioner was an impassioned pro-labor partisan, not an alleged purveyor of sketchy Web sites.)

Moments later, Dean, with bag in tow, left the press conference, skidded through Bally's without playing the slots, pushed open a door to Las Vegas Boulevard, and caught a taxi to McCarran Airport. He's in Mississippi today. His office announced that his next stops in his Red, White, and Blue tour will be March 22 and 23 in Tennessee.

Also Tuesday, Ron Stein, the enigmatic Democratic fundraiser/guru, narrated his famous power-point presentation on the conservative multiverse, wowing (and scaring) the labor crowd.

Here's a very good AP overview of the day: LINK

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Erin Neff picked up Dean's press conference comment that he thinks Dems can pick up Nevada. LINK

In Mississippi Tuesday night, the Governor actually uttered the sentence "The South will rise again," and toned down the whole "good vs. evil" talk, saying instead that Democrats need to focus on issues like health care and education to win back the region, the Clarion-Ledger reports. LINK


The Los Angeles Times' Jessica Garrison and Richard Fausset report that the candidates for Los Angeles mayor are at this point still holding their fire and not yet launching the anticipated negative ad war in the closing days of the campaign. But it sounds like they're itching to pull the trigger. LINK

Jim Rutenberg writes of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's efforts to attract African-American support.

"Mr. Bloomberg is working feverishly to make inroads among black voters, an urgent task which could determine whether he wins a second term, political strategists say. At the heart of the mayor's strategy is a keen awareness of subtle shift in the racial politics of the city: the gradual migration of black voters toward Republican candidates over the last several elections." LINK

Some very good poll numbers for Fernando Ferrer were released this morning by Quinnipiac University.

The former Bronx Borough President improved his standing (over a Jan. 19 Q-poll) in a head-to-head matchup with Mayor Bloomberg besting the billionaire 47 percent to 39 percent. Ferrer also trounces the mayor in the "cares about your needs and problems" category.

And as if that wasn't enough to make Roberto Ramirez smile . . . Freddy's at 40! Ferrer hits the magic 40 percent mark in the Democratic primary matchups that a candidate needs to avoid a runoff. Virginia Fields gets 14 percent and Anthony Weiner and Gifford Miller are tied at 12 percent.

Which Democrat will be the first to try to soften up Ferrer? Or will Team Bloomberg start taking care of that for them? Stay tuned . . .


Yesterday, we suggested that legendary AP Albany guy Marc Humbert had apparently been pulled off the politics beat and was now assigned to cover Democratic strategist Howard Wolfson full time -- with no Wolfson utterance too small to make the wire.

Falling right into our trip, Humbert has yet ANOTHER story about Wolfson this cycle, "reporting" that Wolfson and his talented colleague Gigi Georges have basically taken over spokespersoning duties for the New York Democratic Party, something that happened weeks ago. LINK

Roll Call's Erin Billings looks at the DCCC's new requirement that Frontline incumbents meet fundraising goals in order to get help as part of its revamped efforts to maximize offense and minimize defense, to paraphrase Chairman Rahm Emanuel. In addition, Gov. Dean is going to turn his attention to fundraising for the committee as well.

Roll Call's Chris Cillizza writes up the request by Reps. Ed Markey and Barney Frank asking Sen. Kerry to lend his support as well -- in the form of some of his leftover campaign cash to help get the DCCC out of debt.

There won't be a Chiles on the 2006 gubernatorial ballot in Florida after all --- Lawton III didn't make the state's residency requirements. We can only ask: Who's staffing this guy? LINK

Sen. John Kerry:

It's a right-place-at-the-right-time kind of day for Sen. John Kerry. As we mentioned above, first this afternoon he takes part in the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring baseball great Jackie Robinson -- recognition he pushed for with Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).

Kerry and Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, look at Robinson's life and legacy in a Boston Globe op-ed. LINK

Then it's all about the Sox!!

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga looks at how the nation's pastime is bringing Sen. Kerry and President Bush together -- and Notes that Gov. Romney will not attend the Sox photo op. LINK

Sen. Kerry also had plenty of choice things to say about President Bush's tax and foreign policies, as well as the mainstream media at a forum with Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Monday night. A quick summary: politicians need to focus on accountability; the middle class is getting squeezed by tax cuts for the wealthy; the Bush Administration needs to adjust its attitude on globalism; corporate media owners have killed the investigative spirit and contribute to an atmosphere of fear and lies; and he hasn't thought about a 2008 presidential bid yet. LINK

Hey Leiby: when you go to his house for the presentation on the PAC, maybe you can ask him about that.

2008: Democrats:

Many press and staff and colleague eyes were on the various Democratic governors with possible 2008 aspirations as they gathered in Washington for the NGA meetings.

Two governors in particular have been singled out for being (both in DC and in general) particular grasping and heavy-handed in their jockeying. We are too polite to reveal their names, but tout le monde knows exactly about whom we write.

Perhaps unrelated to all of that, there was apparently one cute moment at a meeting of governors at which Iowa's commander-in-chief Tom Vilsack reminded everyone that the summer NGA meeting is planned for Des Moines. At that Virginia's Mark Warner is said to have talked at some length about how he was really looking forward to that meeting, and planned to bring his wife and kids and stay for some extra days because he regards Iowa as a "field of dreams."

Warner was described afterwards as being surprised that anyone read his comments as '08-centric and that he didn't mean them that way.

Noting with a finely honed sense of understatement that "Mrs. Clinton is not an ordinary Senator," the New York Observer's Ben Smith and Lizzy Ratner look at the big cadre of high-powered donors who are for the moment fervently supporting Sen. Clinton's 2006 election bid, but are literally quivering with anticipation to put their itchy check-writing and fund-raising fingers to use for her 2008 presidential bid. And any time anyone can work "political jujitsu" into a story, we applaud. LINK

Lots of bold-facers here, including those Cabinet aspirants Holbrooke and Altman.

Reading the New York Times' dispatch on the latest in the David Rosen case, we wonder again how soon this thing will be settled . . . and whether it's the tip of an iceberg that allies of Sen. Clinton do not want to hit. LINK

Correction: Yesterday, we meant to say that Elizabeth Edwards did an interview with the Center for American Progress' Campus Progress, rather than the Campaign for American Progress.

2008: Republicans:

Even though he co-authored the Cato report that gave Gov. Pataki a B on his fiscal stewardship (and warned he was in danger of sliding lower), Steve Moore defends the man, echoing the Pataki argument that the Empire State is tough to governor. This occurs in the New York Post, which hasn't had a story about the Patakis' household help in what seems like days. LINK

The Boston Globe's Scott Greenberger looks at how Gov. Mitt Romney appears to be walking back from his tougher stance on corporate taxes and his proposal to give the state's revenue commission discretion to go after companies that avoid taxes by transferring profits outside the state. Gotta keep those business watchdog groups, not to mention Grover Norquist, happy -- or at least quiet -- if the 2008 bid's going to get anywhere. LINK

Grover's analysis of Romney -- and his words of warning -- will surely be read closely in the Corner Office.

Greenberger's colleague Scot Lehigh warns to very carefully watch Romney's speeches and his actions as he sets up his 2008 bid. LINK

This Friday night at 7:30 pm ET, skip the movie and settle in with a bowl of freshly-made popcorn studded with Goo Goo Cluster pieces and watch Sen./Leader/Dr. Frist's New Hampshire speech live on LambTV, a.k.a. C-SPAN.

We bring to you an excerpt from the interview ABC News' Jonathan Karl did with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday:

MR. KARL: Completely change subject. You've seen some of the thoughts about you running for President in 2008, and there's even a Web site, and there's even a Condoleezza Rice for President song, a theme song.


MR. KARL: Yeah. Would you consider it?

SECRETARY RICE: No. I'm really respectful of those who do run for office. I know what I do well, and I know what I like to do. And I'm really going to try to concentrate on being a good Secretary of State.

MR. KARL: So you'd categorically rule out running for President in 2008?

SECRETARY RICE: Jonathan, I'm going to try to be a good Secretary of State and then, as I've said many, many times, it's always NFL Commissioner.

MR. KARL: Right. So it sounds like there's a door open there?

SECRETARY RICE: Jonathan, I'm going to try to be a good Secretary of State and see if I can do this job well and then we'll see if the NFL is open.

MR. KARL: The NFL and maybe something else. We'll see. Well, thank you very much, Secretary Rice.


The Schwarzenegger era:

It's official: in his state's restaurants and stores, Gov. Schwarzenegger is soliciting support from voters one by one for his initiatives on state pensions, redistricting, and teachers' tenure.

More from the Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas and Robert Salladay on the Humvee-at-Applebee's adventure and more to come. LINK

More from the San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Martin: LINK

Nicholas and Salladay also take a look at the Governor's financial disclosure forms, and we're dying to see the scepter. LINK


Lloyd Grove says Whoopie Goldberg sent Dave Bossie a box of chocolates in response to that billboard. (If you don't know who all three of those people are, and what billboard we mean, you have been skipping episodes of The Note . . . ) LINK

Former DNC chair aspirant Leo Hindery is launching a new media investment firm, with advisory help from former Sens. Daschle, Kerrey, and Gorton, per the New York Post. LINK

The Post has another business story that is too complicated for us to understand, but it carries the tell-tale "Christopher Byron" byline and contains these two bold-faced-names graphs:

"Among the Fusion big names from the world of Washington politics are former President Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu, and his Clinton administration counterpart, Thomas F. McLarty III, along with the Clinton era's Democratic National Committee finance chairman Marvin S. Rosen, and Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raymond Mabus." LINK

"Others connected to the money-losing 54-employee company, which purports to offer "voice over internet" telephone service in the Third World, include President John F. Kennedy's nephew, and former Massachusetts congressman, Joseph Kennedy II, as well as the elder Bush's one-time budget director Joseph R. Wright Jr."

The State's Lauren Markoe and John Monk bring more today from the Thurmond FBI file: "U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and his staff tried to get the FBI to build a case against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 on the grounds that he was 'controlled by communists.'" LINK

Loads more in the sidebars.

Per the AP: "An effort to repeal a city ordinance that protects gays from discrimination failed on Tuesday night, and a lesbian city councilwoman turned back a primary challenge by the granddaughter of the minister who orchestrated the repeal campaign." LINK

There is nothing in the world like the Washington Post's Ann Gerhart writing about elegiac Democrats feteing Tom Daschle. LINK

Poesy-worthy sentences include:

"John Kerry could be seen from nearly every vantage point in the cavernous hall. John Edwards, who gave up his Senate seat to be Kerry's running mate, worked the room, doing that thing where he reached out with one hand toward the next supplicant while still clasping the last one who had buttonholed him."

"Michigan's Debbie Stabenow whipped off a black cloth that covered a painting, to reveal a building renamed for Daschle -- the Senator Thomas A. Daschle Building on Maryland Avenue, headquarters of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The DSCC is the very group that failed to keep Daschle around, but everybody got to take home a rendering of the three-story building, with the Capitol in the background, a ghostly presence."


A most hearty Note welcome to John Tierney, who becomes a New York Times op-ed columnist, and whose work we have long enjoyed. "Savored" really. LINK

The New York Observer says Mary Mapes is writing a book. And Joe Hagan continues to own this story. LINK

Ladies and gentlemen of Bos-Wash: your new national Los Angeles Times -- or as we call it: better than nothing. LINK