The Note: Learning to Use Irrationality As a Bargaining Tool



There are three completely inexplicable politico-media phenomena in our shared lives this morning.

1. Why does this Friday bring (possibly explosive) new Tom DeLay/Abramoff stories from the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times (2!!!), the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times? (And the release of island public records doesn't explain them all . . . )

2. Why did Bill Clinton do a Wednesday interview with Al Gore's Harvard pal Deborah Orin, and why did she hold it a day?

3. Is there any other newspaper in America that would run an implication-laden paragraph like this one from today's Boston Globe front-pager about the reported plans of federal prosecutor Sullivan to indict former Massachusetts Speaker Finneran for perjury?

"It would be perilous for Sullivan, having launched the probe, to end it without indictment, and risk being viewed as soft on the once politically powerful former speaker. However, bringing indictment will provoke anger in the political arena, and possible retaliation from other politicians. Still, indicting Finneran, and failing to get a conviction, could create a perception that Sullivan overreached, and taint his reputation." LINK

The answers are: (1) We don't know; (2) we really don't know, and we don't know; and (3) NO!!!!!

In other news:

"Solved" by Washington standards: hyper-respected Wall Street Journal reporter David Rogers thinks Tom DeLay's now-famous trip to Scotland was more about golf than policy; the White House has accepted that watching the Powerful Chairman of the Powerful Ways and Means Committee roll the dice on retirement security reform is its best bet for moving Social Security forward; John Kerry -- unlike Ted Kennedy -- doesn't believe the Massachusetts Democratic Party platform should endorse gay marriage; the Los Angeles Times still has a big investigative reporting budget; and 41 has now pledged never to attack 42 politically again.

"Loggerheads" by Gang of 500 standards: Sens. Lugar and Biden over how to proceed on the Bolton hearings; whether the Gang of 500 bought the Social Security push-back message from Wednesday's White House briefing on progressive indexing enough to assimilate it into the daily coverage zeitgeist; the New York Times website re-design versus the New York Post Web site re-design; and whether the U.S. government shares David Sanger's concerns about North Korea's alleged nuclear program.

"Pending" by Note standards: will the House ethics committee ultimately agree with David Rogers about DeLay's Scotland trip; will Bill Clinton be able to become de facto President of the World through his nimble post-presidential work; whether the AFL-CIO can solve its leadership riddle fast enough to fight the Bush Administration's clever efforts to reshape the landscape; which of the Millerwise Bush spokesgals works more hours per week; and how Sen./Dr./Leader Frist will feel when he learns that Sen. Collins shared his "private" e-mails with the New York Times.

Old business from yesterday's Note list of people that both 43 and 42 like (based on a cascade of reader responses):

Adds: Dee Dee Myers, Mike Leavitt, Kinky Friedman.

Potential subtraction: Paul Begala.

ABC News' Daniel Arnall reports that the economy added 274,000 new jobs during the month of April, according to government reports. In addition, the government revised up its previous estimates for March and February. March now reads a 146,000 gain (previously 110,000) and February has a newly reported 300,000 (from its original 243,000). Unemployment rate remains unchanged at 5.2 percent.

More details: LINK

Today, President Bush heads to Europe with First Lady Laura Bush, where they'll be until May 10, visiting Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

They arrive first in Riga, Latvia, where Bush will receive Latvia's highest honor, the Three Star Order. He will also meet the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on Saturday, and they'll hold a joint press conference.

On Sunday, the President will hold bilateral meetings in the Netherlands, and commemorate Victory in Europe Day at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten near Maastricht. He'll also pay his respects to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and will congratulate her on her recent 25th anniversary celebration as Queen.

The trip continues to Moscow, Russia to meet with President Putin and 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 heads to New Mexico for a 3:00 pm ET event for Rep. Heather Wilson, and to Arizona for a fundraiser for Rep. Rick Renzi at 7:00 pm ET, before heading to Wyoming.

Former President Bill Clinton addressed the annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee at 8:00 am ET in Washington, DC. He was presented with the AJC's Light Unto the Nations Award for his tsunami relief efforts.

Sen. John Kerry holds a town hall meeting in Miami, FL, to talk about children's health care and his "Kids First" bill at Florida Memorial University at 9:30 am ET. He holds a fund-raiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton tonight at the Park Plaza in Boston.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) talks about health care at a conference in Albuquerque today.

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer keynotes the Republican Party of Wisconsin's 2005 convention banquet in Sheboygan, WI.

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

Former Sen. John Edwards will deliver a keynote address during North Carolina Central University's spring commencement.

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

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) is the keynote speaker for Regent University's commencement in Virginia Beach, VA.

Gen. Wesley Clark will receive an honorary degree at the Lyon College Commencement in Batesville, AR.

Also on Saturday, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun keynotes the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network national dinner in Washington, DC.

On Sunday, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Carl Levin (D-MI) will sit down with George Stephanopoulos to talk about the questions about troop readiness raised this week by Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the increase in insurgent attacks in Iraq, and ongoing questions over armor protection for American troops. Also, comedian Jerry Lewis helps kick off a week-long ABC series on chronic pain.

Abramoff, DeLay, travel, and ethics:

The DeLay/Abramoff floodgates opened this day, with lots of new details and some potential leads to chase.

"Two former top aides of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's brokered a political deal here five years ago that helped land island government contracts worth $1.6 million for a Washington lobbyist now the target of a federal corruption probe. . . . Using promises of U.S. tax dollars as bartering chips, Edwin A. Buckham and Michael Scanlon traveled to these remote Pacific islands in late 1999 to convince two local legislators to switch their votes for speaker of the territory's 18-member House of Representatives. They succeeded," write the Los Angeles Times' Walter Roche and Chuck Neubauer. LINK

The duo examine more closely how Jack Abramoff represented the interests of the Northern Mariana Islands, and suggest a very beneficial relationship between Abramoff, who got the contract, and the districts of island lawmakers who reaped the benefits of federal budget measures allegedly supported by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

By implying that the Leader was part of a Rube Goldberg plan that included appropriating federal money, the paper moves the ball.

The Los Angeles Times has a second Abramoff story about Guam. LINK

The Associated Press does some major circle-widening as it reviews Abramoff's contacts with the Bush Administration, using Marianas documents to show that "his team also had extensive access to Bush administration officials, meeting with Cheney policy advisers Ron Christie and Stephen Ruhlen, Ashcroft at the Justice Department, White House intergovernmental affairs chief Ruben Barrales, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles and others." LINK

"At least two people who worked on Abramoff's team at Preston Gates wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget."

"Money also flowed from the Marianas to Bush's re-election campaign: It took in at least $36,000 from island donors, much of it from members of the Tan family, whose clothing factories were a routine stop for lawmakers and their aides visiting the islands on Abramoff-organized trips."

"Two Tan family companies gave $25,000 each to the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2002 elections. Greenberg Traurig, too, was a big GOP giver. Its donations included $20,000 to the Republican National Committee for the 2000 elections and $25,000 each to the GOP's House and Senate fundraising committees in 2000 and again in 2002."

The article also reveals correspondence between then-governor George W. Bush and Abramoff's team about the Marianas.

David Rogers in the Wall Street Journal reports that DeLay's 2000 trip to Scotland seems to have been organized with an eye toward recreation:

"The documents show that Mr. Abramoff hired Classic Heritage Tours in March 2000, months before the trip, which gave Mr. DeLay the chance to play three British Open-quality courses over four days in late May and early June 2000. The travel party included a member of a Louisiana Indian tribe that the lobbyist represented in Washington and the general manager of a Russian energy company that had helped host Mr. DeLay in Moscow in 1997. A prominent garment maker in the Marianas Islands was listed in early documents, but it is unclear if he ultimately made the trip."

The New York Times looks at how folks in the Marianas feel about Abramoff now. Some think he represented their best interests, other do not. LINK

Writes John Harwood in Washington Wire about possible new selections to the ethics committee: "Hastert faces slim pickings after recusal of two Ethics Committee members who had given to DeLay's defense, since only three dozen House Republicans haven't given or received funds from him."

DeLay talked about the pitfalls of pride and the need for humility in public life yesterday at the National Day of Prayer observance at the Capitol, the Washington Post's Mike Allen reports -- and also declared himself a sinner. (That's DeLay, not Allen.) "A television correspondent asked DeLay how he had chosen his topic, and the lawmaker replied, 'Humility is something I work on every day.'" LINK

Business Week's Eamon Javers writes that while the vast majority of congressional Republicans are publicly supporting DeLay, what's really got people talking -- particularly the business lobby -- is who'll succeed him, and how it will affect business interests.

Javers sizes up three possible front-runners -- House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (MO), House Education & Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (OH), and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (NY), Noting that "[t]hey all scored a perfect 100% on the most recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce rankings for probusiness votes. Their differences are mostly stylistic."

Local lawmaker travel stories still get plenty of ink.

The St. Pete Times on Rep. Michael Bilirakis's Bellagio "fantasy." LINK

And the Palm Beach Post on Rep. Claw Shaw's trips. LINK

President Bush in Eastern Europe:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reports that Russia isn't exactly thrilled with President Bush's remarks to the president of Latvia about the Soviet Union forcibly occupying the Baltic states in 1940, disputing the Notion that troops were in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia as part of a military action and saying rather that they were there because of an agreement -- the one between Stalin and Hitler. LINK

Peter Finn of the Washington Post gives a sense of what President Bush's visit means to the Republic of Georgia. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva and Alex Rodriguez examine how President Bush's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed. LINK

President Bush sat down for a pre-trip round of interviews with foreign television and print reporters yesterday afternoon, ABC News' Karen Travers reports.

President Bush told Estonian television that with the end of World War II, the Baltic nations saw the end of fascism but "they saw their homelands be taken over by a repressive ideology." He said he understands why Baltic presidents will not be attending the ceremonies on May 9 in Moscow: "These are difficult decisions because -- and they reflect the difficult times. And I honor those decisions. But I understand."

On terrorism, President Bush said the number of incidents is increasing because the United States has made efforts. "If we weren't trying to find the enemy and bring him to justice, the world would look relatively peaceful. But we're on the offense."

The President told Lithuanian state television that he told President Putin in Slovakia that he felt it was important for the Russian leader to understand the Baltic leaders don't view the end of World War II as "a great moment of celebration."

"But I did make it clear to President Putin that there is great angst, and people don't view this as a liberating moment, and hopefully that he will work with the Baltics in a cooperative way, because it really is in Russia's interests to have free countries and democracies on her border," President Bush said in this interview. "The more democracies on the border of a country, the more peaceful a country will be."

Dutch TV asked the President about the Dutch being on the opposite end of the spectrum from him on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, drugs and how Republicans and some Americans don't want to move toward the Netherlands on these issues. Asked if he shares that concern, Bush said that Holland is a free country where people decide policy and the government reflects the will of the people. "And so if that's what the people of Holland want, that's what the government should reflect."

Bush brought up the International Criminal Court as an example of where the U.S. and the Netherlands will differ and explained why the U.S. will not join it: "We don't want our soldiers being brought up in front of unelected judges. But that doesn't mean that we're not going to hold people to account, which we're doing now in America. And nor does it mean that even though we may disagree on the court, that we can't work for other big goals in the world."

The President also sat down for a 40-minute roundtable interview with foreign print reporters Thursday morning at the White House, Travers reports. He noted at the start that this is his first trip to both Georgia and the Netherlands.

". . . I view this as a celebration to end tyranny, although I fully recognize the Baltics ended up with a form of government they weren't happy with. It's a moment to remind people that when the world works together, we can end tyranny. And it will be an interesting observation to remind people tyrants still exist."

"Historically, no question the United States never recognized the form of government imposed upon Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. As a matter of fact, you might recall the history of the embassies that were here, that were treated as independent embassies with the flags of the free countries flying above those embassies -- in other words, we never recognized what took place. That's because we believed in your freedom. And that hasn't changed. I was proud to represent my country the day the three Baltic countries entered NATO."

On his relationship with Putin:

"A respectful relationship with a leader of a great country like Russia is important to maintain. And I have a respectful relationship. I'm able to express concerns and ask questions and get responses in a civil in a civil way. And I think that's very important to make sure our relations are good. And we don't always agree with each other."

On his meeting in Russia with members of "civil society:"

"I think the fact that I'm in a country where I'm allowed to meet with people from civil society is a good signal. I mean, there is a civil society. And they're allowed to speak to the American President about concerns. I have no idea what they're going to say. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's good. And I will assure them that my message that I will give in Latvia, speaking to the world, same message I give here at home, is the message I continue profess, and that is minorities have rights in a democracy."

On Abu Ghraib and perhaps a reference to Lynndie England:

"I'm realistic enough to know that images on TV have sullied our country's image, at times. And we've just got to continue to spread -- tell people the truth, be open about the mistakes of Abu Ghraib, hold people to account."

Social Security:

Two Bloomberg reporters interviewed Bill Thomas, who told them, for the first time in public, that "Congress should consider a package that includes increasing the retirement age, discouraging early retirement, splitting off disabled and survivors benefits from Social Security and slowing the growth of future benefits -- though not as much as the Bush administration has called for. He said those changes may be combined with long-term health and retirement-savings measures and tax-code adjustments."

(John Harwood, in the Washington Wire, Notes that Administration does not want to link tax reform with Social Security legislation "but seeks any source of momentum.")

Mickey Kaus lays out why he thinks Social Security reform can wait: "Before they stabilize the system at this high level of GDP consumption -- cementing it in place, in effect--Democrats may want time to think about whether they want to devote such a large part of society's resources to a universal check-mailing scheme. My guess is Democrats will need at least some of those GDP points for health care. It will be easier to get them if Social Security is still perceived as a program in need of reform, as opposed to a program that got fixed back in 2005." LINK

Next week's Business Week cover story by Lee Walczak and Richard S. Dunham takes a look at the Safety Net Nation, "a diverse group that includes the pathologically risk-averse and those who are willing to take the Ownership Society for a spin -- as long as it's equipped with air bags," and why they're resisting buying into President Bush's idea of allowing people to take a portion of their Social Security savings and investing it in private accounts. And regardless of ideology, much of it comes down to philosophy -- their tolerance for risk, which savings incentives and breaks they think should favor which income groups, and how they view the possibilities and realities of Wall Street. LINK

"The most predictable members of Safety Net Nation are liberals who favor activist government. The really crucial bloc, however, is made up of those who backed Bush in 2004. They still approve of his overall job performance but have soured on Wall Street and dislike the President's approach to Social Security. This faction -- estimates range from 17% to 22% of the electorate -- rejects both traditional liberalism and conservative laissez-faire. In an era of rampant job insecurity, when employer-provided pensions and health coverage can no longer be taken for granted, they want a middle-class security blanket that gives them protection as they build wealth."

" . . . If the President can't win over some of these skeptics, GOP knees will continue to buckle on Capitol Hill. More important, other elements of his agenda, from new savings plans to personal health-care accounts, could be imperiled by the flight to safety. 'If Social Security reform stalls, blood will be in the water,' warns Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. 'Democrats fighting for what I prefer to call the Dependency Society will be emboldened to oppose all of Bush's ownership agenda.'''

Charles Krauthammer outlines a scenario blaming Democrats for "[h]aving lured the president out onto a far limb on Social Security," calling President Bush's progressive indexing plan "as fair and progressive a plan as you can find," and saying that Democrats are only playing for political advantage in the debate. LINK

We wonder why Mr. Krauthammer wasn't more supportive of Al Gore's call for the lockbox in 2000. (Actually: we don't.)

Sen. Chuck Grassley was befuddled to find that Muscatine citizens were not so curious (or at least less talkative) about Social Security on Wednesday, writes Peter Ruggs of the Muscatine Journal. LINK

The British election:

The Washington Post's Glenn Frankel looks at the vote that gave British Prime Minister Tony Blair a third term, but a smaller Labor Party majority as a result of voter anger over his support of the war in Iraq. LINK

Dan Balz looks at the factors Britons considered when making their decision. LINK

E.J. Dionne breaks down why he thinks voters decided to give Blair one more chance. LINK

Results (including super-cool interactive maps): LINK; LINK; LINK

Local coverage: LINK; LINK; LINK; LINK

Bush agenda:

John Harwood's Washington Wire says that "business braces for possibility that new corporate levies could offset reductions for individuals, as in Reagan-era legislation."

David Sanger and William Broad seem to have a direct downlink from NRO satellites to their desks, as (apparently) one U.S. intelligence agency they contacted for a story about rapid preps for a North Korean nuclear test hadn't heard of any. LINK

Paul Krugman tries to savage the Medicare bill (again) in his column: "The new Medicare law subsidizes private health plans, which have repeatedly failed to deliver promised cost savings. It creates an unnecessary layer of middlemen by requiring that the drug benefit be administered by private insurers. The biggest giveaway is to Big Pharma: the law specifically prohibits Medicare from using its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Bettina Boxall has details of the White House's decision Thursday to drop the Clinton rule that declared nearly a third of national forest land immune to road building, logging, and oil and gas development. LINK

Tom Kenworthy of USA Today Notes that the boon for governors of Western states to decide what to do with the forestlands. LINK


At this point, Sen. Lugar says the Bolton committee vote is on schedule for next week, but Sen. Biden ain't so sure.

The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius and Greg Miller lead with Sen. Biden's request for more documents as part of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's review of John Bolton's nomination, and the warning by Democrats that they might not be ready to vote next week. LINK

More from AP: LINK

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, talks to Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff about Bolton today, after former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage came out in favor of the nomination yesterday, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports. The fighting over documents continues. LINK

From John Harwood's Washington Wire: "Bolton won't testify again before Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote next week, a blow to Democrats who hoped to score points by pressing him on allegations of abusing subordinates. Other administration officials lobby wavering Republicans, brandishing Margaret Thatcher's praise for Bolton's "capacity for straight talking rather than peddling half-truths."

A strong vote of support for Bolton comes courtesy of the New York Post editorial page, which treats the charges against him concerning intelligence reports thusly: LINK

"Are Americans supposed to greet with a straight face the news that intelligence officials -- who have gotten data wrong for years, often with tragic results -- now bad mouth someone unafraid to say that maybe these guys could be wrong?"

Rush & Molloy's Daily News gossip column includes an item about Bolton's ex-wife refusing to include any troubles from their marriage in the public debate surrounding his nomination. LINK

The politics of national security:

The Washington Post's Dana Priest reports that $20 million has been tentatively earmarked to move the CIA's domestic division, which is responsible for operations and recruitment in the U.S., from the Langley, VA headquarters to Denver next year. Current and former intelligence officials told Priest the move reflects Director Porter Goss' desire to "develop new ways to operate under cover, including setting up more front corporations and working closer with established international firms." LINK

The Washington Post's John Mintz looks at the new Harvard study that finds efforts by the United States and Russia to secure nuclear materials and keep them out of the possession of terrorists have been rendered less than effective because of red tape and a less-than-urgent approach. LINK

Filibuster battles:

The New York Times' enterprising David Kirkpatrick went to Maine to check out the crowd and air wars, and see what he could find. LINK

And he found that as Sen. Bill Frist gears up to potentially trigger the filibuster rules change next week, he sent two e-mails extolling interest group pressure campaigns in states like Maine to Republican Senators. Including Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine.

"'I thought it was so strange that I got that e-mail,'said Ms. Collins, noting (sic) that as one of a decisive handful of the 55 Republican senators who have not yet taken on a position on the rule change, she was a target of the advertising campaign her party leader had endorsed. Dr. Frist might have sent it only to those senators who had already agreed to support the idea, she said."

Princeton's Frist filibuster gets Times ink and Hardball play. LINK

Big casino budget politics:

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon looks at the $82 billion war spending bill the House signed off on yesterday, expected to pass the Senate next week. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that the budget limits sent to House Appropriations yesterday cut most from federal land conservation and environmental programs. LINK


The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly looks at the data conflicting with the statement by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt that encouraging seniors to write living wills could reduce Medicare costs. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The New York Times' Michael Cooper writes that the delay at ground zero could seriously jeopardize Gov. Pataki's political legacy. LINK

"The setbacks at the trade center site could further cloud Mr. Pataki's political future, said Kenneth Sherrill, a professor of political science at Hunter College. 'It's certainly going to be very hard for him to project the image of someone who brought us back from the abyss when the project that was done by people he appointed can't pass the scrutiny of the New York City Police Department,' he said."

"'Does it increase his possibility of becoming ambassador to Hungary?' the professor asked. 'Probably.'"

Note the reading by Cooper's source of alleged police memos warning long ago of security concerns.

And if you think Cooper's political memo paints a dark picture, just wait until you read John Podhoretz's commentary in the New York Post. LINK

"George Elmer Pataki is toast. Put a fork in him, because he's done. No politician can survive the sort of calamitous debacle over which Pataki has presided in and around the 16 acres of Ground Zero. No politician should survive it."

Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy plan to unveil their bipartisan bill to overhaul the immigration system, setting up "what could be a raucous summer of debate over whether to allow some undocumented foreign workers in the United States to apply for permanent residency," the Arizona Republic reports. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Ian Bishop of the New York Post gets Sen. Clinton to express her opposition to the parental consent bill passed by the House last week aimed at barring people from helping underage girls cross state lines to get an abortion without the consent of her parents and (prematurely) declares an end to the Senator's movement to the political center. LINK

"As Clinton pursues a potential 2008 White House bid, her opposition could have long-term ramifications because the overwhelming majority of Americans support parental notification for underage abortions."

"A top fund-raising official on Senator Clinton's campaign, David Rosen, plans to defend himself against federal felony charges by arguing that he was tricked by two "self-confessed 'con men'" involved in planning an August 2000 fund-raiser," reports the New York Sun. LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe reports that John Kerry thinks it's a mistake to officially support same-sex marriage within the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Kerry said, ''I'm opposed to it being in a platform. I think it's a mistake . . . I think it's the wrong thing, and I'm not sure it reflects the broad view of the Democratic Party in our state." Sen. Kerry opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions, while Sen. Kennedy would like to see support for same-sex marriage included in the party platform. LINK

AP was with Sen. Kerry as he talked about children's health care Thursday in Baton Rouge, LA. LINK

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) makes a Buckeye State appearance (in Republican Butler County) and garners some favorable reaction captured by the Cincinnati Enquirer. LINK

"Dick Holzberger, a longtime Democrat who formerly served on City Council here, said Bayh is the best-known speaker the local party has snared in many years -- and Holzberger sees that as a sign that the party is on the rebound."

More: "I think he would be a superb contender,' said Mark Kaplan, 40, of Fairfield. 'If he runs, he could bring Ohio and Indiana back into the Democratic column for us.'"

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Deb Orin of the New York Post chatted with the former president in Baltimore earlier this week and provides a months-early curtain raiser on the "Clinton Global Initiative" gathering he is organizing in New York this September. Orin has an early peek at some of the folks invited and expected to attend. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray interviews Bill Clinton about his Global Initiative:

"The Global Initiative will be funded by charging the companies that participate. Any funds left over after covering costs will go to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit that pursues various global health, economic, political and social initiatives."

"Critics, of which Mr. Clinton has plenty, are likely to see this as just another extension of the Hillary for President campaign. To head off those concerns, Mr. Clinton says he has enlisted the help of two high-profile Republicans who share his penchant for showmanship -- News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger."

"He says the Global Initiative plans to focus on just a few issues -- four at each meeting -- that have bipartisan support and that don't fall exclusively under the domain of governments. Among the possible topics: building up the 'integrity and capacity' of developing-nation governments, addressing global energy and environmental problems, and attacking global health crises such as tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS."

Writing in The New Republic, Andrei Cherney defends Clintonism ably, as he writes that the party faces a crossroads and one direction leads back towards Clinton's economic vision-based agenda and another direction leads elsewhere. LINK

The Lancaster New Era has an excellent report on Bill Clinton's Wednesday night appearance before the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. LINK

But it is The Note that can bring you exclusive culinary details. For those of you concerned (paging Doctors Allan Schwartz and Craig Smith) about the eating habits of the post-surgical former president, our source on the scene provides this dispatch:

"He ate 50 percent of his salad which was polenta with roasted pepper and goat cheese terrine with extra virgin olive oil layered over a haricots verts salad drizzled with northern Italian vinaigrette."

"He ate 75 percent of his dinner which was Dijon encrusted salmon with boursin cheese served with whipped red potatoes and matchstick squash."

"[He} didn't touch the crème brulee cheesecake with whipped cream and raspberry garnish."

"And of course . . . Diet Coke!"


Fred Dicker leads his New York Post poll wrap with the "strong majority of New Yorkers [who] want Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to commit to serving a full six-year term if she wins re-election next year . . . " LINK

" . . . But at an awards dinner at the Waldorf last night, Clinton wouldn't make the pledge, refusing to reveal her political plans beyond 2006."

"'I'm focused on winning re-election. That's my goal,' she said."

The Daily News' Celeste Katz gets some punditry on the topic. LINK

"That could dog her in her reelection bid, said Doug Muzzio of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs."

"'It will be made an issue by any primary opponent, [and] even in the general election,' he said. 'Running away from a previous commitment never looks good. Whether it's damning is another question.'"

"U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a former prison psychologist and Methodist minister, appears likely to become the second Democrat running for governor."

"Though Strickland himself was quiet Thursday -- saying only he would make an announcement next week -- Democratic officials and the other Democrat already running, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, said they expected him to join the race," reports the Associated Press. LINK

More from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. LINK


The New York Post's City Hall Bureau Chief David Seifman highlights the goodies Mayor Bloomberg is handing out in his election year budget. LINK

"The budget Mayor Bloomberg proposed yesterday offered something for everyone -- except his mayoral rivals, who were left with little to gripe about," writes Dave Saltonstall of the New York Daily News in his budget analysis. LINK

"Television will have to wait: Mayor Bloomberg is launching a $100,000, five-week Internet advertising blitz aimed at recruiting tens of thousand of volunteers, the Daily News has learned," reports Michael Saul. LINK

Fernando Ferrer picked up support from some Brooklyn elected officials -- a couple of whom, the New York Post points out, had some recent run ins with the law. LINK

Noam Scheiber in the New Republic defends Ferrer (on principles, no less!!!): LINK

Is Mayor Mike obsessed with a West Side stadium? He says no but letters he wrote to the City's conflict of interest board suggest otherwise, the New York Times reports. LINK


The Washington Times' Brian DeBose has a good article on the ideological diversity within the Congressional Black Caucus, Noting that five of its members voted in favor of bankruptcy reform legislation. LINK

The New York Post reports Kofi Annan's potential troubles in the oil for food scandal at the U.N. are heading to a Henry Hyde committee room. LINK

"House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) announced that Robert Parton, who resigned in protest from the investigation headed by Paul Volcker, had complied with the panel's subpoena"

"Parton, who claimed Volcker probers had been too soft on Annan in their last report, turned over boxes of documents on Annan's son, Kojo."

"Spokane Mayor Jim West, who championed an anti-gay agenda during his tenure as one of the most powerful Republicans in the Legislature, yesterday admitted to using the trappings of his current office to entice what he thought was a young adult man but denied allegations that he molested two young boys more than 20 years ago," reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. LINK

More from the Seattle Times: LINK

West said yesterday he has 1,150 days left in his term and he intends to serve the city in them, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports. LINK