The Note: Special Relationships

USA Today's Oren Dorrell also Notes the choreography of the visit, and that President Bush's schedule has annoyed Russian officials by including surrounding countries. LINK

Filibuster battles:

George Will argues that it's absurd that things have gotten to the point where the President declares that non-believers are good Americans. LINK

Incensed by comments by Rev. Pat Robertson on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that the "gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings" -- referred to in his book to the "out-of-control judiciary," MoveOn PAC is launching a petition and a television ad campaign calling on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) to repudiate Robertson's remarks. By yesterday afternoon, MoveOn PAC had raised $50,000 to pay to air the 30-second spot, which will run on cable in Tennessee and DeLay's home district, as well as on Washington, DC cable.

Big casino budget politics:

The Washington Post's David Broder chastises the 10 members of the House of Representatives (seven Democrats, three Republicans) who missed the vote on the budget, arguing that the hurry resulted in a budget that envisions a massive national debt and transfers of the Social Security "surplus" to pay for tax cuts. LINK

Big casino budget politics: Medicaid:

Jonathan Roos of the Des Moines Register looks at the expansion of Iowa's Medicaid program to offset the loss of $65 million in federal aid and give health care to an estimated 30,000 more people that passed the state Senate yesterday. LINK

Bolton:

More good news for the pro-Bolton side: "The Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has declined to endorse a Democratic request that the State Department turn over documents related to a long-running dispute between John R. Bolton and American intelligence agencies over assessments about Syria and its weapons program, Congressional officials said Wednesday." LINK

Ah, to be a fly on the wall during the Lugar-Biden talks!!!!

The Committee finishes its investigation Friday; it votes (in theory) next Thursday.

The politics of national security:

The Washington Post's Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus look at the audit of the FBI by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, which found that nearly one-third of the FBI's intelligence analyst jobs were left unfilled last year, and many of the analysts that were hired spent their time on clerical duties. Retired appeals judge Laurence Silberman also took a shot, saying the bureau and DoJ weren't working fast enough on counterterrorism fixes. LINK

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe Notes that the "Real ID Act" could pass through Congress shortly and be enacted by 2008. The bill would require states to authenticate every document presented in order to obtain a state license or ID card and has attracted critics upset this subject has not gone through the normal legislative hearing process, but rather swept thru Congress. LINK

More from USA Today's Donna Leinwand. LINK

2008: Republicans:

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