The Note: Oh, Somewhere in This Favored Land the Sun Is Shining Bright

The Los Angeles Times' Paul Richter and John Hendren write that Wolfowitz is still a lightning rod in Europe over Iraq, and Note that "The Bush appointees' [Wolfowitz and UN ambassador-designate John Bolton] views on both institutions appeal to neoconservatives. Neoconservatives believe the World Bank, as well as development aid in general, should be more closely keyed to governance reform and promotion of democracy, not just targeted to alleviate poverty while leaving authoritarian regimes in place." LINK

An understatement, write the Washington Post's Keith Richburg and Glenn Frankel. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board just loves writing about international institutions it doesn't love.

"The World Bank is a dysfunctional bureaucracy that requires deep reform if it is to recover the trust of American taxpayers and survive as a relevant institution in the 21st century. That President Bush named as talented and senior a public servant as Mr. Wolfowitz is a sign he still takes the World Bank seriously -- something we sometimes find hard to do -- and that he means to reshape its cash-input-driven culture, which so far has produced negligible outputs for its ostensible clients, who are the world's poor."

Big casino budget politics:

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg Notes the victory for tax-cutters yesterday and the leadership concession that made Mike Pence happy: "As the House began its own budget debate, the Republican leadership on Wednesday smoothed over what appeared to be the last obstacle to passing a spending plan: a revolt among an alliance of conservatives and moderates who wanted to make it more difficult for the House to exceed its own budget limits. The leadership had opposed the effort, but after several days of negotiations, conservatives settled for the right to challenge any subsequent spending bill that exceeds the amount set in the budget. The objection could be overridden by a majority vote. Conservatives had pushed for a two-thirds vote." LINK

No go on paygo in the Senate, the Los Angeles Times' Joel Havemann reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board gives the "backbenchers'" revolt a hoo-rah.

Howard Fineman writes that these days the Republicans like to spend and spend and spend. LINK

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray reports that the House passed an $81.4 billion emergency war spending bill yesterday to fund operations in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to help tsunami victims -- but not the requested $592 million request for a U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad. LINK

USA Today's William Welch takes a very good look at the bigger, more immediate problem of Medicare, which is stumping lawmakers and doesn't fit into the blueprint of winning over generations of younger voters like Social Security -- and there's not a solution in sight. LINK

The AP's Alan Fram writes of Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and his pivotal role in the budget fight over Medicaid. LINK

The politics of gas prices:

Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing, for the rowers keep on rowing, and they're certainly not showing, any signs that they are slowing . . .

Oil prices topped $56 a barrel yesterday, and there's no sign that the climb will abate any time soon. LINK

The Schwarzenegger era:

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