The Note: Bet the Ranch



In these times of changing economic conditions and (some) uncertainty, safe bets are hard to come by.

But/so if you are looking for the right place to make a wager, we have some ideas.

Due to production difficulties, we were unable to publish Saturday's and Sunday's editions of The Note.

Some readers think they can just check out during the weekends, and pick up anything they need to know on Mondays.

Some weekends, that might work. But this weekend, your guide to the political stars and the modern equivalent of cattle futures was on wide display.

Thus -- without further ado -- your safe bets:

1. It's a safe bet to say that, as boffo as First Lady Laura Bush was with her stand up routine at Saturday night's White House Correspondents Dinner, the Gang of 500 won't be able to come up with anything to explain its cosmic political implications better than that it will "soften and humanize" the President.

(That is silly analysis on so many levels, we won't even attempt to demolish it.)

But it is also a safe bet that Mrs. Bush left the podium after her star turn with even higher and more intense positive feelings among the Gang of 500 than when she took the podium, and that is saying something, because the buzz was at a pretty high level to begin with.

She already had a crowning moment on inauguration day, as she watched her husband take on a second term that she was instrumental in helping him win. Saturday, looking beautiful and with timing somewhere between a high school forensic champion and Chris Rock, the FLOTUS wrote another chapter in her surprise elevation to one of the most popular and media-savvy First Ladies in American history.

She also told what our weekend research suggests is the first public joke ever by a First Lady about the President of the United States engaged in intimate contact with a randy male horse.

2. It's also a safe bet that most Americans won't have considered the way in which the FLOTUS routine reflected the national (or: "Washington") pysche.

According to the Wilderom Web site (Don't act like you haven't looked at it before . . .), here's what Freud thought about Laura Bush's perf (or at least stuff like it):

"(I)n wit, a forbidden impulse comes out in a controlled manner. Freud saw wit as essentially a form of sublimation. An impulse that would be anxiety provoking or even harmful is vented in an enjoyable way. Wit is therefore the safe expression of evil according to Freud. Of course, the most common themes of wit are sex, violence and bodily elimination -- all Freud's favourites! The forbidden impulse is not just being expressed by the person telling the joke but by those who laugh at it. The purpose of wit or a joke is to allow a forbidden impulse to be released in such a way that anxiety can be avoided."

(We refer you back to the horse joke above.)

3. It's a safe bet to assume that there are more stories coming about John Bolton and more semi-prominent Republicans poised to publicly oppose him, and/but that the Administration still believes he will be confirmed without ever publicly confronting the facts of some of the more explosive (and media-friendly) accusations against him.

4. It's a safe bet that Democrats are not moving on Social Security anytime soon, despite the Washington Post and USA Today ed boards trying to shame them into it.

5. Another safe bet: Part of the reason for (4) is that progressive indexing is going to end up being more like 50 percent of the solvency solution than 70%, and that has implications too obvious to state. (See, among others, Jed Graham's Investor's Business Daily story. LINK)

And another part of the reason for (4) is that Paul Krugman and others are going to continue to attack progressive indexing as a hit-too-big on the middle class and as a Trojan horse to turn Social Security into a program for the poor.

6. And/but it is a also a safe bet that you probably missed two major developments in the last 96 hours that are extraordinarily positive for efforts by the White House to change Social Security for future retirees.

First, Friday's announcement by the Powerful Chairman of the Powerful Ways and Means Committee (Bill Thomas) that the House will move forward on hearings and a bill without waiting for the Senate to act is huge news.

For one thing, it means forward movement (which is by definition -- in the face of the CW and the polls -- progress), the main thing the White House needs now to buy time and look for some breaks.

Second, it shows that the House leadership and rank and file are willing to continue to see themselves holding hands with (or "being handcuffed to") the President as they walk down what they hope is a road to reform (rather than a plank to a 2006 drop in some alligator-infested water).

That same quiet and determined sense of entwined political fate and shared ideological purpose can also be seen in the near-universal Republican acceptance of putting progressive indexing on the table -- which is also evidence of strong White House coordination. Even those Republicans who made it clear that they don't much like the idea (See George Allen and Sam Brownback weekend comments.), didn't throw down any gauntlets, draw any lines in the sand, or use the phrase "deal breaker."

7. A safe 2007/8 bet: If Hillary Clinton runs for president, part of the "we told you so" message will involve North Korea.

8. And another: Pat Robertson's apparent preference for Rudy Giuliani over John McCain for president has tons of implications. But we don't know what those implications are.

President Bush delivers remarks today at the Preserve America Presidential Awards in the Rose Garden at 10:30 am ET. Tomorrow he'll talk up his Social Security plan at the Nissan plant in Canton, MS.

Social Security is on the agenda again Wednesday, when the President speaks to the Latino Coalition's Small Business Conference in Washington, DC, before he and First Lady Laura Bush attend a Cinco de Mayo dinner.

On Thursday, the President makes remarks on the National Day of Prayer, and then meets with the President of Nigeria.

On Friday, President Bush heads to Europe, where he'll be until May 10, visiting Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. In Riga, Latvia, President Bush will meet the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in addition to a bilateral program.

In the Netherlands, the President will hold bilateral meetings and commemorate Victory in Europe Day at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten near Maastricht.

President Bush will then travel to Moscow, Russia to participate in the World War II commemoration ceremony and to meet President Putin. The President will conclude his trip with a visit to Tbilisi, Georgia to underscore his support for democracy, historic reform, and peaceful conflict resolution.

Vice President Cheney visits Georgia (the one here in America) today for two town hall meetings -- the first in Julia Roberts' home town of Smyrna, GA, at 10:50 am ET, and the second to talk to law enforcement students and staff at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA at 4:20 pm ET.

The Senate in recess this week.

Treasury Secretary John Snow is out talking about Social Security again today, in a speech to the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting at 10:00 am ET.

Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a joint town hall meeting with Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) at 2:00 pm ET at the University of Central Florida. McCain then joins Feeney for two fundraisers in the Orlando area.

At 10:00 am ET, Progress for America holds a news conference at the National Press Club to talk about its ad and grassroots campaign on judicial nominees. Speaking: Brian McCabe, president of Progress for America; Benjamin Ginsberg, chief counsel for Bush-Cheney 2004 and PFA adviser; and Wendy Long, legal counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) headlines a Republican committee reception in Manchester, NH, at 6:00 pm ET. On Tuesday, Hagel gets an award for "leadership in public communications" from Franklin Pierce College. He speaks at New England College in Henniker, NH on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) headlines the Allegan County Lincoln Day dinner in Holland, MI.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Georgia Republican Party convention in Savannah.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum holds programs to honor liberators during Military Appreciation Month, marking the 60th anniversary of liberation of Nazi concentration camps. On Thursday, the Holocaust Memorial holds a day-long reading of Holocaust victims' names.

On Friday, Vice President Cheney joins Rep. Rick Renzi for a fundraiser in Scottsdale, AZ.

On Saturday, former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani delivers the commencement speech at High Point University in High Point, NC.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft will deliver the graduation speech at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA.

It's also "Cover the Uninsured Week."

Social Security:

The New York Times' Edmund Andrews and Eduardo Porter wrote Sunday that as President Bush pushes a proposal that would make Social Security more and more "irrelevant" to the lives of middle class workers, the program's "central bargain" comes into question. Should it be a social insurance program designed to ameliorate poverty? Or something broader? LINK

Jackie Calmes has an A-4 analysis of how the Bush/Pozen plan would all work.

Writes the Wall Street Journal editorial in a "good move, George but stay strong" editorial: "We hope this does jumble the political deck, but at this stage we're skeptical. Democrats feel they can tag a political defeat on Mr. Bush and profit in 2006 by just saying no; they've made opposition to even tiny private investment accounts a partisan imperative. And because Mr. Bush needs at least five Senate Democrats to pass a bill, the odds of success are long."

"Embracing solvency in this way is thus not without its political risk for Republicans. Democrats are already saying they won't compromise unless Mr. Bush drops personal accounts, and GOP Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas is signaling -- dangerously -- that 'personal accounts can take a number of forms.' Yes, but unless accounts let individuals invest and own part of their own payroll taxes, they will be phony."

Paul Krugman finds progressive indexing as brutish as he did Mr. Bush's initial instincts about Social Security. LINK

The Free Enterprise Fund's Stephen Moore uses a New York Post op-ed column to endorse President Bush's Social Security plan and calls the Pozen approach an "olive branch to Democrats." LINK

Linda Feldmann of the Christian Science Monitor looks at President Bush's ongoing -- and carefully worded -- pitch to overhaul Social Security. LINK

Roll Call's Mark Preston lays out the respective sides of the argument over President Bush's Social Security plan (Republicans: Democrats are being obstructionist; Democrats: Republicans are distorting the facts) that Senators are taking home this week.

The Los Angeles Times' Warren Vieth looks at Treasury Secretary John Snow's role as main pitch man for President Bush's Social Security plan, reportedly spending more than half his time pushing the President's overhaul, though with little effect on public opinion and at the risk of creating "a broader perception that the Treasury Department's influence and stature have declined since Bush took office." LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post ed board wrote that President Bush has left Democrats plenty of opportunities to criticize him for his Social Security plan, from the amount that higher-income workers would be able to divert into private accounts to the way benefits would be calculated in the future. But they're a reasonable place to start, and now Democrats need to start getting behind a plan of their own. LINK

The White House couldn't have written it better itself, and USA Today has a comparable editorial today, although less well reasoned.

On three Sunday shows, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card agreed. LINK

Rep. Jim Leach shrewdly prophesized that Bush's Social Security restoration project either will happen, or it won't. (But it probably won't.) "'I think the odds are against it, but it's quite possible,' the Iowa City Republican said as the guest on 'Iowa Press.'" As deduced by Thomas Beaumont in Saturday's Des Moines Register, according to Leach, the President has not yet managed to mobilize the troops -- so to speak -- on a specific plan of action. And while we're on the subject, Leach said (regrettably) that he doesn't regret his "no" vote on Iraq or his stance as the sole Iowa Republican to vote against the $2.6 billion budget passed on Thursday, but he hasn't yet made a determination about DeLay. LINK

On Sunday, Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register offered a colorful recount of last week's Social Security saga, featuring a high-strung Sen. Chuck Grassley jerked mercilessly in every direction, in addition to Tom Harkin as Tom Petty/dancing fool (not to mention his morsel of MSM time on "Larry King Live" during which decried the President's privatization intentions). She went on to explain that Congress' other half evidently became nauseated from Sen. Grassley's syncopated attempts at the bipartisan bargaining table, so they took matters into their own hands Friday and scheduled Social Security talk time in the House. LINK

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times' Peter Gosselin took a look at President Bush's plan to ensure Social Security stability and better benefits for the poor, Noting that the message some middle-class workers are hearing is that they'll get less from the program and need to save more on their own. LINK

Filibuster battles:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, in an interview with USA Today, said a showdown over judicial nominees is "almost inevitable," and that he'll push for a vote on the candidates before Memorial Day, Kathy Kiely reports. LINK

Derek Rose of the New York Daily News Notes Pat Robertson's "This Week" comments and George Stephanopoulos' offered opportunity to rethink those comments. But you'll have to read all the way to the bottom for the blind quote from a GOP aide on whether or not Sen./Dr./Leader Frist has the votes. LINK

"I don't think Frist has the votes," a GOP aide said. "He's now in his own corner. If he doesn't have the votes, he's really screwed."

Progress for America "intends to spend $1.5 million on television commercials over next two weeks to help Senate GOP leaders in a showdown over President Bush's judicial nominees," along with $350,000 of radio ads on Christian stations, AP reports. LINK

ABC News' Marc Ambinder reports that the group decided to do the ad buy after receiving a $3 million donation from a single individual who wanted it earmarked for the judicial nominee battles.

Abramoff and DeLay, ethics and travel:

Salon's Mark Benjamin looks at the relationship between DeLay's "political machinery" and his charities. LINK

Read it carefully.

Roll Call's John Bresnahan and Erin Billings write that at the moment, congressional Democrats and Republicans are holding their fire in the ethics war, and are waiting to see if there's a subcommittee created to investigate House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, as well as the scope of that probe.

"Members of Congress, led by Republicans Michael Oxley and Deborah Pryce of Ohio, have tripled spending over the last four years to host fund-raisers in Vail, financing their journeys with money provided by donors," reports Bloomberg, blaming Leadership PACs.

The Washington Times nabs an interview with DeLay, who says he is ready to clear his name before the ethics committee. LINK

Bob Novak says DeLay was central to getting a budget resolution, proving that the old horse still has it in him to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

"DeLay has made mistakes, though many errors -- such as playing golf overseas on a special interest's dime -- hardly warrant the death penalty. Former aides and associates have entered Washington's bipartisan culture of lobbying greed, though DeLay cannot be held responsible for them. He has been rude to reporters, lobbyists and even colleagues, though that is a common failing among strong leaders." LINK

"The overriding point is that DeLay is the most important Republican leader in Congress. That is why Bush was pictured with him on newspaper front pages all over America Wednesday morning."

Tom Delay's travel investigation may start as soon as next month and Michael Hedges of the Houston Chronicle looks at how Delay's defense will be probed if an independent panel is brought in to assist with the case. LINK

Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey said in Houston on Sunday, "Tom DeLay is an embarrassment to the Republican Party." McCloskey is one of nine former congressmen who has started the informal group called the "revolt of the elders," the group is aimed at finding a candidate to defeat DeLay in the next election. LINK

The Washington Post's Mark Leibovich offers some details -- and evidently hears a few tolling bells -- on the tribute planned for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on May 12. LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Susan Schmidt and James Grimaldi turned in a front-page examination of the dealings of Jack Abramoff, focusing their energies not on the fees he collected from Indian tribes with casinos, but instead as a part owner of a fleet of gambling cruise ships -- a tale complete with allegations of mob ties and shady finances. Abramoff is the target of a federal investigation into whether the deal by which he and his partners acquired the fleet involved bank fraud -- specifically "a fake wire transfer for $23 million intended to persuade lenders to provide financing to Abramoff's group." LINK

The duo unravel a lengthy story that, in their words, "combines the South Florida of novelist Carl Hiaasen with the Washington of influence-peddling K Street: Thousands of pages of bankruptcy and other court records, along with dozens of interviews in Florida and Washington, reveal secret deals; a forged document; double-crossing partners; and socializing with government officials on a private jet, at the U.S. Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach, at a Monday night football game in a private box at FedEx Field, and at an exclusive party on Inauguration Day in Washington."

Meanwhile, Chairman/Gov. Dean has been drawing the line from Abramoff to the White House, urging the President in DNC press release Friday to return all funds from and sever ties to Jack Abramoff: "Someone facing numerous charges of corruption shouldn't be just a phone call away from the President of the United States of America. It's that simple. President Bush should return Abramoff's money immediately."

We're curious to see how many quotes from Democrats this week will contain that dotted-line message, or whether Dean stays out on his own.


Over the weekend, the New York Times' Scott Shane turned in a boffo profile of Mr. Bolton's life and influences. LINK

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times' Sonni Efron took a look at the circumstances at the State Department that led to John Bolton's frustration, and how that frustration affected his relationships with both State employees and foreign diplomats, including adding to "an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust spun out of Bolton's zealous policy initiatives and the efforts of others to thwart him." LINK

File this under "do not miss":

" . . .[A]administration officials have had to grapple with Bolton's reputation among his friends as a blunt truth-teller, and among his foes as an undiplomatic loose cannon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has telephoned Democratic and Republican senators to ask for their support, has emphasized in conversations with at least two senators that as U.N. ambassador, Bolton would be strictly scripted by Washington, three Senate sources said."

"'We think that we can control him,' Rice told one senator, two Senate aides said. 'If he strays from the reservation, he's out.'"

Newsweek's Mark Hosenball hears there are more allegations that Bolton tried to intimidate career officials who disagreed with his hard-liner stance, and Notes that "Bolton's critics are also pressing for details of requests he made for National Security Agency electronic 'intercepts' containing the names of U.S. officials." LINK

Rekha Basu of the Des Moines Register isn't too big on Bolton . . . or on the allegedly meddlesome efforts of the Bush/Rove/Cheney triumvirate to (re)energize supporters. LINK

Bush agenda:

The Iranian government is planning to defend its nuclear energy program and insist on having access to the same technology as the other members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at a conference beginning today, in anticipation of a speech President Bush is expected to give urging action against Tehran if it doesn't disclose certain elements of the program, the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer reports, in a story that is Sangerian. LINK

The Washington Post's John Harris and Jim VandeHei take a front-page look at the first 100 days of President Bush's second term, and wonders whether all the talk about the "realignment" that he and his party saw in 2004 is actually coming to bear. For one thing, holding the party together has proved in some ways tougher than the President might have though on Social Security, and there are distractions galore, such as judicial filibusters. LINK

"Instead, some political analysts say it is just as likely that Washington is witnessing a happens-all-the-time phenomenon -- the mistaken assumption by politicians that an election won on narrow grounds is a mandate for something broad. In Bush's case, this includes restructuring Social Security and the tax code and installing a group of judges he was unable to seat in his first term. This was the error that nearly sank Bill Clinton's presidency in his first years in office in 1993 and 1994 when he put forth a broad health care plan, and that caused then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Republican 'Revolution' to stall in 1995 in a confrontation over cutting spending for popular domestic programs."

". . . .Even among many influential conservatives, there has been a growing consensus that the Bush governing theory, at least on Social Security, has been proved wrong. The conservative Weekly Standard magazine recently warned in a headline of a 'Social Security Quagmire,' and argued that Bush should position himself so that a defeat on the issue does not cripple other parts of his agenda or produce big Republican losses in next year's congressional elections."

"The National Education Association's chief lawyer two years ago wrote a memo that said the No Child Left Behind Act was voluntary and not an unfunded mandate, a position that contradicts claims in a lawsuit the union has filed against Education Secretary Margaret Spellings," the Washington Times reported over the weekend. LINK

"Robert H. Chanin, the union's general counsel, told NEA state affiliate leaders and employees in a May 2003 memo that the federal No Child Left Behind Act is a mandate only if states accepted federal education funds."

In the Washington Post on Sunday, Michael Kinsley found "a remarkable amount of honesty and near-honesty" in President Bush's news conference last Thursday, from his comments on religion and public life, to the fight over the filibuster and Social Security, which Kinsley sees has the possibility to alienate voters from the GOP. LINK

"Despite having made a commitment to return power to the states, the Bush administration and the GOP- controlled Congress are using legislation and the legal system to quash state efforts to regulate industry, a trend state officials say is weakening hard-fought efforts to protect the health and safety of their constituents," wrote Susan Milligan of the Boston Globe in a Sunday near-must-read that raised flags about how the consolidation of power affects interstate commerce, energy, regulating medicine, and homeland security in states and for citizens. LINK

Newsweek's Holly Bailey and Richard Wolffe read the writing on the wall in gauging the difficulties President Bush is facing in his second term -- on John Bolton, gas prices, and Social Security, among other issues -- and wonder how the Administration found itself here. LINK

FLOTUS kills:

If you've seen references to Mrs. Bush's stand-up routine on Saturday night that don't include either the phrase "brought down the house" or "stole the show," e-mail us:

Elisabeth Bumiller writes of Laura Bush's Saturday night performance: "She brought down a very tough house, and she humanized her husband, whose sagging poll numbers are no match for her own." LINK

"Hurling terrific one-liners rapid-fire like she was shooting skeet," writes the New York Daily News' James Gordon Meek (in an article teased by a front page banner) who also tries to drive a wedge between the First Lady and Karen Hughes by reminding his readers of the less well received routine Ms. Hughes penned for the Bush twins at last summer's Republican National Convention. LINK

And here's the comedy writers reaction sidebar courtesy of the New York Daily News: LINK

The New York Post's Deborah Orin includes Sen. Schumer's positive review. LINK

Zing, zing, zing, writes the Los Angeles Times' Leslie Hoffecker. LINK

Lloyd Grove's Daily News column is solely dedicated to the WHCA dinner and takes a look at how the Washington crowd responds to "B-grade TV" personalities. LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post's DeNeen Brown gave First Lady Laura Bush a rave review for her "outta the way, Mr. Excitement" performance on the dais. LINK

North Korea:

Clinton special advisor on North Korea Wendy Sherman pushes back on Andy Card's Sunday appearances by telling the New York Daily News, "The worst of this problem has happened on the watch of the Bush administration." LINK


In Saturday's Manchester Union Leader, Denis Paiste penned the pat on the back for New Hampshire boy and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg. Giving a thumbs-up for the (semi) swift budget passage, Senate Majority Leader/Dr. Bill Frist first complimented Gregg for pulling it off, and secondly, for pulling it off . . . with relative promptness. Playing timekeeper, Frist proclaimed, "This is about the fifth quickest we've passed a budget report." When questioned about Sununu and his secretive filibuster posturing, Frist remained mute, Noting that any presumption on his part would be indiscrete. "I know that Senator Sununu will do what's right, and I'm sure he's assessing the situation as he sees these negotiated offers go back and forth." LINK


This one should probably be double listed under our "Economy" section as well as our "Politics" section, but since it is an off-year we'll keep it here. "If predictions hold true, employers will hire 13 percent more new college graduates this year than they did last year, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers," reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. LINK

Reproductive politics:

USA Today's Susan Page looks at how both Democrats and Republicans are facing the idea of reaching out to voters whose views on abortion don't exactly jibe with the party line, trying to thread the needle while holding fast to their absolutist positions and figure out whether their respective 2008 nominees can represent them if they hold the opposite view. LINK

The politics of immigration:

USA Today's Charisse Jones writes that the debate over immigration is becoming all the rage in many state legislatures, as lawmakers try to figure out the extent of benefits, including drivers licenses, that they want to grant people who entered the country illegally. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Los Angeles Times' Tom Hamburger writes up Pat Robertson's "This Week" comments that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, despite his different views on social issues, would make a good president -- and Sen. Frist wouldn't. Robertson also irked Muslim leaders by saying he'd be wary of appointing Muslims to top positions in the U.S. government, particularly judgeships -- though surely it would be because of a specific person's ideology, not their religious faith, as President Bush said in Thursday's press conference. LINK

Rudy Giuliani will deliver a commencement address at Middlebury College on May 22.

Josh Gerstein takes seriously the Haley Barbour presidential talk, but Notes that it all seems to be based on a weird contradiction: he'd gain traction as an outsider, but everyone who talks him up is a consummate insider. LINK

Sens. John McCain and Susan Collins gave commencement speeches at Maine Maritime Academy on Saturday. McCain was reserved in his comments about a possible run for President, saying, "Senator Collins calls me every morning and every evening and urges me to do so, but I'm going to wait a couple of years and then make a decision." LINK

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Notes that Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in Washington last week. LINK

A preemptive forecast piece from Sunday's Concord Monitor (with the assistance of an avid fan of Fantasy Primary 2008) puts some money on Mitt Romney's campaign visits for the 2008 presidential race, though there is some skepticism as to how his Mormon affiliation will play with conservative Christians. LINK

Just asking . . . .

What Northeastern politician with New Hampshire, Midwestern, and Western ties, recently told these boffo jokes at a fundraiser attended by Bill Clinton?

The differences between DC and Massachusetts:

In DC, a Code Orange is a heightened state of security. In Massachusetts, it means John Kerry just got out of the tanning booth.

In DC, a 527 is a political organization. In Massachusetts, its the number of registered Republicans.

In DC, Gonzalez and Gutierrez are the two newest cabinet members. In Massachusetts, they are the two newest members of the Red Sox pitching staff.

And, in DC, a negative campaign happens when your opponent puts out a flip-flop ad. In Massachusetts, a negative campaign is when Whitey Bulger puts out a hit on you.

Clue: LINK

2008: Democrats:

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun writes that the David Rosen trial has been delayed for at least a week. LINK

The New York Daily News runs an Associated Press report of Sen. Hillary Clinton's support for some public funding of higher education institutions. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Former President Bill Clinton extended his gratitude on Sunday in the Concord Monitor for the warm, fuzzy feeling that enveloped him while stumping through New Hampshire as a presidential candidate. He intimated that his visits to the Granite State set the tone for the remainder of his election process. LINK


New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) tells the New York Post's Fred Dicker that he doesn't think William Weld will actually make next year's gubernatorial race against Eliot Spitzer. And Note the Bloomberg lack of interest in moving to Albany. LINK

The Associated Press reports Gov. Jim Douglas' (R-VT) weekend announcement that he will not seek retiring Sen. Jim Jeffords' seat and instead seek re-election to the statehouse. LINK

"His decision opens the field to two other possible contenders, Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie and Burlington businessman Richard Tarrant, in the race to succeed Senator Jim Jeffords, an independent. Both men expressed interest after the governor made his announcement."

Christopher Graff of the AP writes despite possibly being the GOP's best chance, it very well may have been the wise decision. LINK

"The political reality, though, was that a Senate bid would consume every minute of Douglas' days and nights between now and November of 2006. And as strong as Douglas appears today, he would enter the race as the underdog, with the tough assignment of tearing down Sanders, who is as popular or more popular than Douglas and is perhaps the one politician in the state who can match Douglas' energy in campaigning."

The Washington Post's John Wagner reports that Rep. Ben Cardin's bid for U.S. Senate in Maryland is getting a boost from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who's endorsing him today. LINK

Lee Bandy of The State looks at the Democratic edge in off-year elections. In South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's seat could be challenged by Democratic State Sen. Tommy Moore. LINK

Republicans trying to draw Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. out on some controversial issues so they can start working on how to pin him in his challenge to Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Roll Call's Laura Whittington reports.

"Former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne plans to seek the Republican nomination for governor instead of a fourth term in Congress," reports AP. LINK


In case you missed the Friday post-5:00 pm ET announcement of David Axelrod and Chad Clanton leaving Freddy Ferrer's mayoral campaign, the Daily News' Michael Saul reminds all you weekday readers about it by drafting a quickie profile (accompanied by an extreme expectations setting headline) of the talented Jen Bluestein who has replaced Clanton as Ferrer '05 communications director. And make sure you read all the way to the bottom to absorb Howard Wolfson's exuberant endorsement. LINK

We now wonder which political observer (without the bias of Bloomberg supporter Ed Koch) will be the next to predict Ferrer won't make the runoff and which Democratic candidate will be the first to attempt to make the (anti-Dean like) case that Ferrer has damaged himself too much to be electable in November.

And Ms. Bluestein got right to work defending Ferrer's calling Bloomberg a "patsy for the Republican Party." LINK

At what point in the cycle will Mayor Bloomberg realize just how fuzzy that political/governmental line really is? And will the members of the press corps make their appeals for answers (irrespective of the classification of the event) to the campaign's Bill Cunningham or City Hall's Ed Skyler? LINK

Bloomberg was able to keep Brooklyn's Rev. Bernard in his corner despite Democratic candidate attempts to woo him away this time around. LINK and LINK

The New York Times editorial page likens Mayor Bloomberg to Ahab and the Jets stadium to Moby Dick. LINK

The New York Post's Frankie Edozien offers up a longish profile of Manhattan Borough President and mayoral contender C. Virginia Fields. LINK

He plays up her biography, experience, and strong political skills, but also includes this:

"Many like her. Many more voters love her. Few are loath to openly criticize. But there are critics."

"'She doesn't run a tight ship. There is not a clear direction of what you want to get done. Things get dropped in the middle for any number of reasons,' said one former longtime top aide."

New York Magazine's Greg Sargent explores the uphill battle "online entrepreneur and all-around techno-noodge" Andrew Rasiej is waging to unseat Betsy Gotbaum as Public Advocate. Rasiej's number one campaign issue: universal wi-fi (even in the subways). LINK

On Sunday, David Broder reminded his readers why the gubernatorial races in New Jersey (could create a Democratic power bloc of big-state governors) and Virginia (testing whether the momentum gathered in 2004 with Republicans picking up five new seats continues) are important. LINK

House of Labor:

The Washington Post's Tom Edsall on Sunday looked at the messy fight brewing within organized labor, as the presidents of the Service Employees International Union, Teamsters, Laborers, and Unite Here have demanded that their members' names be taken off the AFL-CIO's master list of 13 million households. It's the latest blow to the federation presidency of John Sweeney, who may face a challenge from Unite Here's John Wilhelm on one side and a threat from SEIU's Andy Stern to pull out on the other. LINK

The Schwarzenegger era:

Dean Murphy of the New York Times attributes the governor's popularity decline to this: "While each of the protesting groups has a different gripe with Mr. Schwarzenegger, they have united in depicting him as an uncaring, partisan Republican doing the bidding of big business. According to the polls, the message seems to have resonated with Democrats and independents, who together accounted for the sharp decline in Mr. Schwarzenegger's standing." LINK

"With polls showing Schwarzenegger's once gaudy approval ratings skidding below 50 percent, the governor is using the hot-button immigration issue to reconnect with conservative voters," wrote John Wildermuth and Mark Martin in Sunday editions of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' George Skelton isn't even bothering to hide his scorn for Gov. Schwarzenegger's approach, and focus on illegal immigration as a lifeline. LINK

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times' Robert Salladay took a look at Gov. Schwarzenegger's familiar return to the issue of illegal immigration as polls show the actions of groups opposing his agenda succeeding in dragging down his poll numbers. LINK


Former Attorney General John Ashcroft is starting a new Washington, DC-based consulting firm, the Ashcroft Group, LLC, with David Ayres, his former chief of staff from DoJ and the Senate. Juleanna Glover Weiss, the hostess with the mostest with an exceptionally impressive resume of her own, will leave Clark and Weinstock to join them. The company will offer strategic consulting, security and internal investigative services, and crisis counseling to major domestic and international corporations as well as other organizations, and will advise clients regarding both domestic and international issues in homeland security and law enforcement; corporate compliance and investigations; antitrust and intellectual property protection; and strategy on matters involving the intersection of business and government.

Never out of the loop, Al Kamen has more: LINK

As does The Hill: LINK

USA Today's Laura Parker lays out the details of the ongoing fight over the Washington state gubernatorial race, even with Christine Gregoire having been in office nearly four months. LINK

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is doing his part to help, stopping in Seattle over the weekend to raise money for the legal bills. LINK

"The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders -- including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence," three reporters of the New York Times write today. LINK

"In late March, on the recommendation of administration officials, Mr. Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member, corporation officials said. While she was still on the White House staff, she helped draft guidelines governing the work of two ombudsmen whom the corporation recently appointed to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts."

"Beth Courtney, president and chief executive of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and one of three non-Republicans on the nine-member board, said there had been no chilling of journalistic efforts. 'What we should look for are the real actions,' she said. 'We shouldn't speculate about people's motivations.'

Mr. Tomlinson unsurprisingly does not seem to like Now with Bill Moyers.

A correction from the Wall Street Journal: "FORMER VICE PRESIDENT Al Gore has used a Treo hand-held device with the GoodLink wireless email system since switching from a BlackBerry almost three years ago. Mr. Gore is an investor in Good Technology Inc., the closely held Santa Clara, Calif., concern that sells GoodLink. A page-one article last Monday said Mr. Gore has a BlackBerry."

And now, we have ducklings. LINK

Make way.