WASHINGTON, May 16
(Historic Note for the uninitiated: The Note is based 1/3 part on The Hotline, 1/3 part on "Finnegans Wake," and 1/3 part on Newsweek's long-running, brilliant, and unAltered Conventional Wisdom Watch feature.)
(By "based on," we mean "ripped off of.")
(Like, "ripped off of" to the point where we wake up every day amazed none of the three -- or their estates -- have sued us.)
(And just this weekend, on the Newsweek Web site, we Noticed this for the first time: "The CW is not Newsweek's opinion, but an informal distillation of the ever-changing thinking of Beltway pundits and the chattering classes.")
(We couldn't have said it better ourselves, except we like to consider our work "formal" and the stuff we cover/channel to be a bit more static than "ever-changing.")
(In any case, the next time one of you with full Internet access and blogging rights decides you don't like something we say here, how about you re-read that Newsweek disclaimer and our seconding of it?)
(In any case, per the CW as sprung full-grown from the brains of the members of the Gang of 500 gathered for their usual Sunday brunch at Lauriol Plaza yesterday, there is only one story engaging the politico-media complex, so here is the bottom line on that.)
The Gang of 500 positively cannot wait for Sen./Dr./Leader Frist to pull the trigger on changing the filibuster rules.
The Gang of 500 (minus Carl Leubsdorf, Linda Douglass, and David Rogers) can read the explanations over and over as to what will actually happen when the trigger is pulled, and still not really understand it. ("Explain again why Cheney has to be there.")
The Gang of 500 (minus Boyden Gray and Bob Novak) is totally opposed to changing the rules of the Senate, mostly because (as David Rogers reports this morning) Howard Baker seems to be against it too.
The Gang of 500 refuses to call this "the constitution option," since the phrase "nuclear option" is so much sexier.
The Gang of 500 has no idea if Mitch McConnell is telling the truth when he claims to have the votes if needed to change the rules.
The Gang of 500 is torn about whether it wants a last-minute deal to be reached or not, but it does "know" for sure that Bill Frist is only doing this because he wants to run for president in 2008.
The Gang of 500 has no idea what will happen if the trigger is pulled, and/but the Gang of 500 is bored silly with many aspects of this long-running saga, which is why the Gang of 500 has mixed feelings about it dominating the week (and maybe beyond).
The Gang -- which remembers Ronald Reagan palling around with Tip O'Neill, and George H.W. Bush yukking it up with Danny Rostenkowski -- wonders why all this can't be settled over a bit of duck l'orange, since . . .
Harry Reid likes and respects Sig Rogich.
Sig Rogich likes and respects Kenny Guinn.
Kenny Guinn likes and respects Marybel Batjer.
Marybel Batjer likes and respects Colin Powell.
Colin Powell likes and respects Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani likes and respects Andrew Kirtzman.
Andrew Kirtzman likes and respects Al Sharpton.
Al Sharpton likes and respects Howard Dean.
Howard Dean likes and respects Jim Jordan.
Jim Jordan likes and respects Mitch Bainwol.
And Mitch Bainwol likes and respects Bill Frist.
And yet -- and yet -- Harry Reid and Bill Frist at this point can't solve the filibuster thing, because their far-from-neutral corners won't let them compromise, and this baby (so far) can't be split.
As they say in The Hotline (or maybe it is "Finnegans Wake"): fasten your seatbelts -- it's going to be a bumpy ride!
So even though there's a load of interesting stuff happening all over the Hill and beyond this week -- all of it will be overshadowed by the filibuster showdown.
Over the weekend, it was reported that the end of today is the deadline Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid have imposed to discuss a compromise. We wonder how far they got at dinner at Frist's house last night.
At 1:00 pm ET, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid holds a news conference to talk about the status of things, joined by AFSCME president Gerald McEntee. We hope he'll talk about the duck a l'orange too. (Nice detail, CNN: LINK)
President Bush is on the road three days this week, but he's in town Wednesday, when the battle is expected to come to a head. In the meantime, he's dividing his time between international concerns and several meetings with foreign leaders, and his domestic priorities.
Today he's in West Point, VA, first for a demonstration at the Virginia BioDiesel Refinery at 11:20 am ET, then to talk about energy at 11:35 am ET.
On Tuesday, South African President Nelson Mandela visits the White House to talk with President Bush about fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and the efforts of Mandela's foundation to promote education in Africa and help African youth. Mandela delivers remarks on the role of the United States in aid and development efforts in Africa at the Brookings Institution today at 11:30 am ET.
Tuesday afternoon, the President participates in former Rep. Rob Portman's swearing-in as the brand-new U.S. Trade Representative in the EEOB. He delivers remarks at the Republican National Committee gala at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC in the evening.
On Wednesday morning, President Bush meets with the prime minister of Egypt in the Oval Office, then in the afternoon participates in the swearing-in ceremony of John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence and Michael Hayden as Deputy Director of National Intelligence. In the evening, he delivers remarks at the International Republican Institute Dinner in Washington, DC.
On Thursday, the President heads to Milwaukee, WI for a conversation on Social Security at an art museum.
On Friday morning, President Bush speaks at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, then meets with the Prime Minister of Denmark and with the Prime Minister of Greece in the afternoon.
On Saturday afternoon, the President heads to Michigan, which he narrowly lost by a handful of votes last fall, to deliver the commencement address at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. He heads back to Washington, DC in the evening to attend the White House News Photographers' Association gala.
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) unveils his Social Security plan at a 1:30 pm ET luncheon for more than 300 seniors in Delray Beach, and will talk to reporters afterward.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) opens the first of a four-day forum at 1:30 pm ET today to hear a presentation of the recommendations and about its methodology. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify. Over the course of the week, the secretary of the Army, as well as the chief of staff, will also appear.
The Supreme Court meets at 10:00 am ET to issue orders, and is expected to hand down up to four decisions today.
The Senate takes up debate on the highway bill at 2:00 pm ET.
The House meets for legislative business at 2:00 pm ET. Also at 2:00 pm ET, the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee examines the U.N. oil-for-food program.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is in Washington, DC for its annual legislative conference today and tomorrow, looking to lobby members of Congress on financing and safety in the air traffic control system. Highlights today: an address by NATCA president John Carr, a discussion on Washington politics and air traffic controllers featuring former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, Joe Lockhart, and NATCA executive vice president Ruth Marlin at 11:30 am ET, and a speech from Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) at 2:00 pm ET. On Tuesday, Sens. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton are among the speakers.
Gov. Howard Dean delivers remarks at a reception hosted by the Woman's National Democratic Club and sponsored by the Women's Leadership Forum tonight at 6:00 pm ET. Dean goes to Maryland for a state Democratic party rally on Tuesday.
Govs. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Tom Vilsack (D-IA) are in town tomorrow to testify before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on state and local efforts to improve high schools.
The Heritage Foundation holds a discussion on religion and public policy tomorrow with Jim Wallis, editor in chief of Sojourners Magazine and Joseph Loconte, the think tank's William Simon fellow in religion and a free society.
Also on Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee meets on Social Security.
On Wednesday, the House Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee holds a hearing on the Drug Free Sports Act with an impressive lineup of witnesses, including MLB commissioner Bud Selig; Don Fehr, the executive director of the MLB Players Association; NBA commissioner David Stern; Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman; Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber; and Olympian gold medal distance runner Frank Shorter, former chairman of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, testify.
The House Administration Committee on Thursday marks up the 527 Fairness Act of 2005.
This evening, former Attorney General John Ashcroft headlines the Allegan County GOP Lincoln Day dinner in Holland, MI. Tommy Thompson, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, delivers the commencement address at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
On Wednesday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani addresses the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association in Washington, DC. The next day, Giuliani goes to St. Paul, MN, to deliver the keynote at the Center of the American Experiment annual dinner. He delivers the commencement address at Loyola College in Baltimore, MD on Friday, and the commencement address at Middlebury College in Vermont on Sunday.
On Friday, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff keynotes the Rutgers University law school commencement.
On Sunday, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman and DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference.
High noon on the filibuster:
Will the whole thing come down to how good that duck a l'orange was? CNN offers the best new detail on last night's dinner between the Senate leaders at the Frist abode. LINK
Dr./Sen./Leader Frist has a muscular op-ed piece in USA Today, which demonstrates, among other things, that he doesn't remember the Clinton years the way 42 does regarding judges. LINK
The New York Daily News' James Gordon Meek reads the Sunday talk tea leaves and tries to discern which senators might cast the make or break votes. LINK
Richard Schmitt of the Los Angeles Times bats Sunday cleanup as well, looking at the urging by Sen. Lugar on CNN's "Late Edition," to find a compromise to protect minority rights in the Senate. LINK
Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker stressed the Senate's constitutional uniqueness at a "private" reception attended by fellow Tennessean Bill Frist last week, according to David Rogers in the Wall Street Journal.
The New York Times' Nick Lewis writes about Justice Priscilla Owen through the lens of her professional relationship with Karl Rove.
"When Mr. Bush was first elected to the White House, Mr. Rove again chose Ms. Owen, by then a justice on the Texas Supreme Court for nearly a decade, to be among the president's first appeals court candidates, administration and Congressional officials said. In doing so, the officials said, Mr. Rove had to disagree with Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now attorney general. Mr. Gonzales had served on the Texas Supreme Court with Justice Owen and while he liked her greatly, he had preferred another member of the court, Justice Deborah Hankinson, for the federal court seat." LINK
Bemoans the Wall Street Journal's editorial board: "This will not be the world's greatest deliberative body's greatest moment, and the only thing we know for sure about what will happen next is that the reputation of the Senate will suffer. It's a shame it has come to this. But at this point it would be worse if Republicans let a willful minority deny the President's nominees a vote on the Senate floor."
Today, the DNC will e-mail this Web video -- complete with tic-tac-toe game, accusing Republicans of unfairly changing the rules on filibusters -- to half a million people in targeted states. The video builds on the conference call with Sen. Ted Kennedy last week, and is aimed at driving home the message that the Senate was designed to protect the voice of the minority. LINK
On Sunday, David Kirkpatrick and Carl Hulse wrote a nice profile of Harry Reid and Bill Frist, Noting they meet privately quite often and are cordial. LINK
(Note to the Leaders: we think you both have good senses of humor.)
Bob Novak seems to fault Democratic interest groups for wanting to probe the backgrounds of potential SCOTUS nominees. LINK
The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray on Saturday took Note of Sen. Frist's warning that he will bring the fight over judges to the Senate floor on Wednesday and have the showdown vote on Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown between Friday and May 25, and laid out the various options for compromise that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid are considering. She also Noted the previously arranged dinner date at Frist's home, and that the tentative deadline to finish negotiations is the end of the day Monday. LINK
Newsweek's Howard Fineman looks at the not-yet-faded hopes of Republican moderates -- namely, Sen. Arlen Specter -- who are still searching for a compromise that's looking tenuous at best in the atmosphere of brinksmanship. LINK
". . . [t]his is the Moderates' Moment, and for a paradoxical reason. With the rest of the Washington machinery in GOP hands, conservative activists understandably expect results. But leaders such as Bush and Frist can't deliver without the help of the Senate's eight or nine unpredictables; the GOP's 55-45 majority simply isn't enough to obliterate the habit of cumbersome caution. Nominees can get ground up in that machinery. One could be John Bolton, the president's controversial choice for ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton survived the Foreign Relations Committee only because of the acquiescence of Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and George Voinovich of Ohio. But if the GOP succeeds in watering down the filibuster rule for judicial nominations before Bolton comes up, Democrats will yak him into oblivion."
Safety net politics:
"Full marks for honesty to Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, who today will become the first Democrat to propose an alternative to President Bush's ideas for Social Security," the Wall Street Journal's editorial board Notes. "The non-surprising news is that he wants a tax increase."
Joel Havemann of the Los Angeles Times on Sunday curtain-raised the Social Security proposal that Wexler is set to introduce today. The plan favors a 6 percent tax on wages above $90,000, half paid by employers and half by employees, which Wexler says would keep the entitlement program solvent for 75 years. The White House is casting a favorable eye, Havemann writes, but Wexler's fellow Democrats are steamed, as they had pushed not to lay out any plans of their own until the idea of private accounts came off the table. LINK
We see why the White House is happy about this, and why the Democrats aren't, but since the plan doesn't have personal accounts in it . . .
Roll Call's Chris Cillizza reports that the White House has yet to reach out in force to any Democratic Senators who may be persuadable on Social Security -- a date has been requested but not set for a meeting with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), and some Dems jittery that someone might break ranks are calling the Administration talk about bipartisanship strictly PR.
The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum breaks down some of the reasons -- mainly self-preservation -- that labor unions hate President Bush's plan to overhaul the Social Security system. First, Birnbaum writes, the private-accounts plan would hasten the end of unions' defined-benefit fund pension plans, and second, it would dilute labor's voting strength on shareholder issues because individuals would have so much more influence. LINK
On Sunday, the Washington Post's Dale Russakoff took a very interesting look at how the various safety nets constructed for the "Greatest Generation" are unraveling for their grandchildren, who have it measurably worse off than they did. Russakoff also examines the shifting political tides within one family as emblematic of overall generational shifts, and the idea that the Ownership Society could replace the New Deal as a tool for political realignment. LINK
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times' Peter Gosselin looked at the larger trend of corporate America pulling away from conventional safety nets and trying to make individual workers responsible for their own retirement and health savings, and how risk is becoming a far larger part of many Americans' lives than they'd have anticipated a generation ago. LINK
On Sunday, George Will examined how the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., and the decision allowing United Airlines to join US Airways in transferring responsibility for its employee protection program to the PBGC, is being watched by and could affect other non-airline businesses. LINK
"President Bush's visit to New Kent County today is almost two months late for National Biodiesel Day, but it seems that no one's complaining," reports the Hampton Roads Daily Press. LINK
David Sanger's tale of high diplomacy and North Korean nuclear ambitions deservedly makes the front page of the New York Times. LINK
Elisabeth Bumiller takes her gentle readers through the history of Yalta and quotes an administration official who says that no one in the White House anticipated the domestic broo-ha-ha over President Bush's reference. LINK
Greg Jaffe in the Wall Street Journal takes an A1 look at the debate over Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's military transformation strategy.
The Washington Post's Dan Eggen sizes up the tenure so far of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and finds that despite opposition to some of his decisions, not to mention his nomination, Gonzales is getting praise for his approach to the job, and his openness to hearing from his critics. LINK
Jane Norman explained in the Des Moines Register over the weekend why Sen. Tom Harkin couldn't forgive and forget when it came to John Negroponte's human rights reputation/record. LINK
Newsweek's Holly Bailey looks at President Bush's new affinity for Michigan, where next weekend's commencement address at Calvin College will mark his third visit this year, as well as the goodwill tour to the battleground states that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been on. LINK
Art imitating life, or too much French wine? You make the call. "Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between 'Revenge of the Sith' -- the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering -- to President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq," writes AP's David Germain. LINK
Newsweek's Evan Thomas walks back the Newsweek report about alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay that sparked anti-American protests across the Muslim world. LINK
Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker's take: LINK
"The deadly consequences of the May 1 report, and its reliance on the unnamed source, have sparked considerable anger at the Pentagon. Spokesman Bryan Whitman called Newsweek's report 'irresponsible' and 'demonstrably false,' saying the magazine 'hid behind anonymous sources which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage that they have done to this nation or those who were viciously attacked by those false allegations,'" reports the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz. LINK
Talking to the Washington Post's Jonathan Finer after her trip to Iraq on Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that Syria, if it continues to allow the gathering of terrorist networks, is standing in the way of the Iraqi people's desire for peace. In a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, Rice also talked about the need to make the constitution writing process inclusive of all groups in the country, and about accelerating the training and capacity of Iraqi security and armed forces. LINK
Oil for food:
The Washington Post's Justin Blum and Colum Lynch report that Kremlin operatives and a Russian politician re-sold oil that Saddam Hussein sold to them at a discount in the U.N. oil-for-food program, and made millions, according to the report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. LINK
"The panel's report said about 30% of the oil sold in the oil-for-food program was allocated to Russia, even though Russia is an oil-exporting country," the AP Notes. LINK
The politics of same-sex marriage:
The Massachusetts constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and replace it with civil unions is in doubt, reports Raphael Lewis in the Globe, because several former supporters say they don't see evidence that marriage have had much negative impact on the state. LINK
On Sunday, the Boston Globe's Scott Greenberger looked at a poll conducted for the paper by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center that shows 50 percent of Americans do not want their states to recognize Massachusetts' same-sex marriages, while 46 percent said they favored it. On whether they approve of same-sex marriage in general, 50 percent of respondents said they disapprove, compared to 37 percent who said they approve. LINK
"Overall, the poll suggested, attitudes toward gays and lesbians may be softening, and there are indications that support of gay marriage will grow as older people, who are more likely to oppose gay marriage, pass away."
Also on Sunday, the Globe's Nina Easton looked at how the landmark decision made in the Massachusetts courts opened the way for the issue of same-sex marriage to be put before voters in other states -- in April, Kansas became the 14th state in the past nine months to approve a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage from being recognized there. LINK
"Not since Roe v. Wade gave a nationwide stamp of approval to abortion has a court decision so profoundly crystallized America's cultural divide. For proponents, the ruling was a landmark victory for civil rights and equality. For opponents, it was a startling assault on the traditional family and a symbol of judicial power run amok."
Delegates to the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to endorse same-sex marriage in their platform, the Boston Globe's Raphael Lewis and Frank Phillips reported yesterday. And while state Attorney General Thomas Reilly encouraged Democrats to broaden the base, he wouldn't discuss whether he supported the platform change. LINK
Leader DeLay, travel, and ethics:
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post takes a look at the cyclical hubbub surrounding Tom DeLay's travel and relationships with lobbyists, Noting that neither the "everybody does it" response, nor the breathless "see how bad this is" reporting applies equally across the board. LINK
A great brief in the Sunday Boston Globe: "Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Party, said yesterday that the US House majority leader, Tom DeLay, 'ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence,' referring to allegations of unethical conduct against the Republican leader." LINK
"Dean's remark, in a speech to Massachusetts Democrats at their party convention, drew an immediate rebuke from Rep. Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat and one of DeLay's harshest critics. ''That's just wrong,' Frank said in an interview on the convention floor. 'I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don't like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don't think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence.'" LINK
The politics of immigration:
Nicholas Johnston of Bloomberg News takes a fascinating look at how the immigration issue may drive a heretofore unseen wedge between some businesses and Republican politicians they have grown accustomed to support.
"The split between First Data and Tancredo illustrates the ideological fault line immigration is opening between business groups and Republican lawmakers who usually get their support. Companies that need cheap labor provided by immigrants, as well as those like First Data that profit from their presence, are opposing the attempts of lawmakers such as Tancredo to limit immigration because of concerns about national security, the environment and population growth."
The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel writes on page C3 that Alan Greenspan, speaking at a University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony, defended Sarbanes-Oxley.
Sen. Arlen Specter weighs in with a bill defending his asbestos trust legislation and a point-by-point refutation of arguments made by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. LINK
"During previous rounds, the commission approved about 80% of the Pentagon's base-closing recommendations," write Chris Cooper and Greg Jaffe in the Wall Street Journal. "Because a base closing can cause serious local economic dislocation, lobbyists are helping communities develop arguments to throw at the base-closure commission. Heavyweights include former Defense Secretary William Cohen and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, hired by the state of Florida to protect its bases."
USA Today's Judy Keen and David Moniz look at how Republican senators up for reelection next year are throwing themselves in front of the base-closing list. LINK
On Saturday, the Washington Post's Mike Allen and Jonathan Weisman looked at how the base closings list sent legislators scrambling to get in front of their constituents and vow to preserve their military installations as well as short up their own credibility on whether or not they can keep the bases safe. LINK
Ann Scott Tyson of the Washington Post on Saturday laid out how military bases would be consolidated and how the new installations would work. LINK
On Saturday, John DiStaso of the Manchester Union Leader looked at political experts' hunch that local citizens need to hear that everything will be alright in the end, even if state officials cannot ward off the storm of base closures that may hit Portsmouth. LINK
Writes Robert Cook in yesterday's Foster's Daily Democrat: Rumsfeld in no way targeted bases as a punitive response to the electoral votes in the 2004 election, attested research fellow Dean Spiliotes. "Congressional delegations from both parties felt their share of pain from the BRAC panel's list Friday, Spiliotes said, from states like Texas, Alabama and Florida that support President Bush, and swing states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania." LINK
And we like any story that quotes James Pindell as an expert!!!
Springsteen fan and newlywed Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times deflates some Democrats' Notion that they can build a new electoral college majority in the Mountain West while still lagging in the South. With the aid of a report by demographer William Frey at the Brookings Institution, who looks at census data and concludes that Southern Red States, because of population changes, will become increasingly more powerful as New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan could lose a combined 17 Electoral College votes by 2030. Staving off the inevitable with gains in the West just isn't enough if Democrats want to stay competitive, Brownstein writes. LINK
And congratulations to Ron and Eileen!! LINK
The Washington Post's Dan Balz delves deeper into the political typology study of the American electorate by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press, which breaks down the broad generalizations that had held true in the past in understanding how and why people vote the way they do, and finds a far more complicated landscape emerging -- and indicating that neither party can afford to take its base for granted. LINK
The New York Times' Kit Seeyle has a tantalizing and brief article about how former President Clinton's anger over Joel Klein's column questioning his wife's presidential aspirations showed at that Time Magazine forum last week. LINK
The Chicago Tribune's John McCormick has Iowa and New Hampshire on defense as Democrats kicked around changing their presidential nomination calendar. LINK
AP looked Sunday at the differing proposals, one of which, offered by Michigan Democrats, focused on regional primaries, and two of which allow Iowa and New Hampshire to keep their first-in-the-nation status. LINK
"Democrats studying the 2008 presidential nominating schedule Saturday appeared more interested in lengthening the campaign than replacing the Iowa caucuses as the lead-off nominating event," Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont wrote over the weekend, looking at the plan introduced by Sen. Carl Levin and Michigan Democrats to emphasize regional primaries. "The plan Levin offered would allow the DNC to choose up to six of the most competitive states, based on the previous election, to hold nominating contests in April of 2008, while pushing all other states to June votes. Other proposals by the National Association of Secretaries of State and a group of western states would establish regional primaries, but leave Iowa and New Hampshire alone." LINK
Riley Yates of the Manchester Union Leader, on a rare out-of-state jaunt, looked at New Hampshire reaction. Postulating that Granite State citizens have grown accustomed to their star status, Gov. John Lynch emphasized the "85 years of tradition" of New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation status. Yates Notes how Donna Brazile dislikes the snub that the current primary line-up has given to minority voters, but Harold Ickes points out the real issue is whether selection order lowers the Democratic party's presidential odds -- and he isn't sure there's irrefutable evidence for that case. LINK
Former Sen. John Edwards urged the graduates of William and Mary law school to fight poverty yesterday. LINK
Much like the rest of you, we too are wondering why Bob Woodward decided to inject Dick Cheney's name into the 2008 chatter on the Chris Matthews Show. LINK
The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen would be giddy about seeing Newt Gingrich debate his newfound friend (Sen. Hillary Clinton) -- a prospective encounter that becomes all the more titillating when one considers Gingrich's "no moderator in the 2008 presidential debates" stance. Yepsen offers thanks and praise to the former Speaker for writing the book that may help take out the proverbial campaign trash and shift the focus to weightier matters. LINK
The Boston Herald discovers that Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney spent two nights at the White House last year. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Jessica Garrison and Richard Fausset look at the ending days of the runoff race between Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and his challenger, Antonio Villaraigosa, as they scramble to reach every possible voter in what's expected to be a low turnout election, and the somewhat bitter taste left in the mouths of some voters over a race that didn't include a detailed discussion on how to handle traffic, crime, and the city's public schools. LINK
Villaraigosa launches a final 24-hour campaign swing his team is calling the "Hands on Leadership Tour," which will hit such Los Angeles hotspots such as Pink's Hot Dogs, Canter's Deli, and The Pantry in the wee hours tomorrow morning.
Hahn will close out his battle for reelection by visiting Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Brent's Deli in Northridge, and hosting an election eve rally at his campaign headquarters.
The Hahn campaign also included this on its final day campaign schedule: "Mayor Jim Hahn will be joined by prosecutors and law enforcement leaders to call on Councilmember Villaraigosa to stop ducking questions from reporters about casting the lone vote against a law to toughen punishment for child abusers who kill their victims."
The Los Angeles Times' Mark Barabak and Jeffrey Rabin went to church on Sunday with Hahn and Villaraigosa. LINK
On Sunday, Barabak and his colleague Michael Finnegan wrapped the last weekend of campaigning, with Hahn pushing for moderate and conservative voters in San Pedro and the San Fernando Valley, and Villaraigosa going after moderates and liberals. LINK
"For all the spleen of their rematch, Hahn and Villaraigosa, both Democrats, have few policy differences. Hahn stresses public safety, Villaraigosa education. Their main distinctions are matters of biography and style."
Ex-pat-to-be Michael Slackman gets his fly-of-the-wall tone just right as he writes bout the hush-hush goings on the Grand Havana Club, where back room deals are put together (in full view of a visiting New York Times reporter). LINK
David Dinkins -- courted by the mayoral candidates, coy about his future, crafting a book about his life, and enjoying the spotlight (for a little while). LINK
Similar to most candidate forums to date, Anthony Weiner scores the lede in Stephanie Gaskell's New York Post write-up of Sunday's encounter, even though the candidate later apologized for his newsmaking remarks. LINK
Saturday papers were full of details about the $1 million ad buy the Bloomberg campaign is set to launch this week. The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg wrote (with a Jimbo hedge!!) the ads will focus on Bloomberg's handling of the city's recovery in the aftermath of 9/11. LINK
The tabloids reported expected Koch and Giuliani appearances in the ads.
Maggie Haberman's must-read "Campaign Countdown" column in the New York Daily News includes the frontrunners (Doak and Murphy Putnam Shorr) for the former Axelrod account, Ferrer 2005. (But it's her item about the Working Families Party that will make journalists everywhere smile knowingly.) LINK
Former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) is on the air with his first TV ads in Virginia. LINK
Roll Call's Lauren Whittington looks at the three-way race ginning up for NRCC chair between Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), Phil English (R-PA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).
Some troubling poll numbers and an investigation into whether or not administration jobs were offered in exchange for campaign contributions greeted Gov. Blagojevich when he picked up his Sunday Chicago Tribune. LINK
"Winds of change may have put Rod Blagojevich in the governor's office, but a steady buffeting of allegations over mismanagement and "pay to play" politics have soured a growing number of Illinois voters on the first-term Democrat, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows."
"Blagojevich has generally enjoyed healthy approval ratings since taking office two years ago, but the survey found more voters now say they disapprove of the way he is doing his job than say they like it."
"Perhaps even more troubling for Blagojevich, only one-third of voters say they want to see him re-elected next year while 45 percent say they don't, according to the poll."
Hell might be getting lukewarm: the Los Angeles Times' George Skelton offers the Governator some props for backing off of his plan to take $1.3 billion out of the transportation budget to avoid a tax increase. Taxes still won't go higher, because schools will have to wait to get repaid their promised $2 billion, but a reversal's a reversal, Skelton writes. LINK
On Sunday, the Washington Post's Tom Edsall picked up on some reporting by The Hill last week that some African-American members of Congress are none too happy with SEIU protesting Wal-Mart's involvement in a fundraiser for the Congressional Black Caucus. SEIU's secretary-treasurer, Anna Burger, wrote to caucus members saying that the union is disappointed that the CBC has given Wal-Mart a chance to portray an image of friendship to African Americans and working people. LINK
Roll Call's Suzanne Nelson writes that a federal court challenge to Vermont's campaign finance laws limiting contributions and expenditures on state campaigns could have the Supreme Court reconsidering Buckley v. Valeo, which set spending limits in federal campaigns.
Politics and media:
The New York Times' Steve Labaton writes about three current conflicts between the CPB and NPR:
"In one of several points of conflict in recent months, the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which allocates federal funds for public radio and television, is considering a plan to monitor Middle East coverage on NPR news programs for evidence of bias, a corporation spokesman said on Friday." LINK
"The corporation's board has told its staff that it should consider redirecting money away from national newscasts and toward music programs produced by NPR stations."
"Top officials at NPR and member stations are upset as well about the corporation's decision to appoint two ombudsmen to judge the content of programs for balance. And managers of public radio stations criticized the corporation in a resolution offered at their annual meeting two weeks ago urging it not to interfere in NPR editorial decisions."
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, ABC News President David Westin writes about the increasingly aggressive news consumers and what it takes to win them over:
"There are an awful lot of dedicated journalists out there doing first-rate work every day of the year, often at great personal risk. We have a lot to be proud of. But, in the end, the strength of our work lies entirely in the eye of the beholder, our readers and viewers. If we want to serve as the news outlets for the millions of people who historically have turned to us each day, then we will need to go beyond mastering the new ways of reaching our audiences. We need to demonstrate to the American people, relentlessly, a quality of journalism so great that everyone recognizes it and no one can deny it. That way, when people look at all the myriad alternatives for their news, they will choose us -- no longer because they lack any viable alternative but increasingly because, despite the alternatives, they value what we have to report."
Shaila Dewan in the New York Times revisits the East Waynesville Baptist Church and finds its membership sad and wistful. LINK
The Chicago Tribune's crafty Jennifer Skalka takes a look at the backlog of disabled vets' claims at the VA. LINK
"In addition to compensation rates, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently discussed the remand quagmire with VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Obama said he expects the inspector general's report will address the issue."