WASHINGTON, June 14
If it makes (some of) you feel any better: the rest of the world is cuckoo-for-coco-puffs over this story too.
While we all wait for the calm after the storm/story, please take a gander at these must-reads:
1. The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Cooper, explaining why some Hill Republicans would like to see an emphasis on popular bread-and-butter issues (gas prices and highways, say), rather than on unpopular, esoteric, and special interest issues. LINK
(To paraphrase their once-and-future leader: Hill Republicans were born at night, but it wasn't last night.)
2. The Washington Post's Mike Allen, explaining (sans Common Cause worldview!!) the mechanics of tonight's amazing GOP fundraiser. LINK
(And with a take so insidery that it uses the term "K Street" with no exposition whatsoever.)
3. The New York Times' Todd Purdum, explaining in news analysisese the politics and substance of the pre-war Blair government memos. LINK
(The Left is unappeasable on this one, wethinks. Send protest-y e-mails, along with (PLEASE) original points only, to firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler and the Los Angeles Times' Sonni Efron, explaining (respectively) the semiotic terms of the President's meeting with a North Korean dissident yesterday and an anonymous State Department official's semi-official take on where things stand with the six-party talks. LINK and LINK
(If only David Sanger had a blog styled after Kausfiles . . . . )
5. The Wall Street Journal's Rafael Gerena-Morales, explaining the health of state budgets. "State-tax revenue for the July-March period of the fiscal year ending June 30 reached $387 billion, up 9.5% from the year-earlier period, according to a report soon to be released by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public research group in Albany, N.Y. Tax collections in the January-March quarter were up 11.7%, the strongest year-on-year growth for that period since at least 1991. The institute also says that if the current pace continues, states are on track to take in a record $550 billion for the full fiscal year, which ends June 30 for most states."
(Not the first to do this story, but nothing could be keyer for '06 and, probably, '08.)
6. The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, explaining why John McCain is in better-than-realized shape for '08. LINK
(Note to E.J., with all due respect: you are about 18 months behind on the terms of the 43-McCain relationship, and inserting the Jeb stuff only served to put you a bit in fantasy land.)
7. Michael Cousineau of the Manchester Union Leader writes that six former New Hampshire governors gathered together yesterday and hammed it up while deliberating on requisite next steps for the state. LINK
(If you are working for someone who might run for president in 2008 and you don't read this piece, your pay should be docked.)
8. The New York Times' Jason DeParle , explaining how well Heritage Foundation interns get treated (the most must-readest of all of these, by the way). LINK
(This story explains more about why the Left is behind the Right than pretty much anything we've read since . . . well . . . since the transcript we obtained of the last time John Podesta had dinner with Joe Lockhart.)
The political conch today is being held -- as it usually is -- by the President of the United States, whose schedule is redolent with meaning, power, and brio.
After eating lunch at a Santorum for Senate fundraiser in Bryn Mawr roundabout 11:35 am ET, he heads over to Penn State to speak on Social Security at 2:20 pm ET.
The NRSC and NRCC toast him tonight at its 2005 President's Dinner at 7:00 pm ET in the Washington Convention Center. Scheduled to be in attendance: adult film star Mary Carey, who is holding a fashion show and news conference at 3:00 pm ET this afternoon to show off her outfit of choice for the evening gala. The NRCC's packages are linked here: LINK
Question: who is staking out the lunches and other events?
Meanwhile, First Lady Laura Bush speaks at a Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities event at 7:30 pm ET in Washington.
Happy Birthday to the U.S. Army, which celebrated its 230th anniversary this morning with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Senate begins floor debate on an energy bill today; the House is in approps land.
At 9:30 am ET, members of the Federal Reserve Board, Cato Institute, and Heritage Foundation discuss solutions for increasing personal retirement savings at the Rayburn House Office Building. Meanwhile, the Social Security debate continues in congressional committee meetings all day long. At 10:00 am ET, the Senate Securities and Investment Subcommittee discusses the role of financial markets in Social Security reform. The House Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing on protecting and strengthening Social Security at 2:00 pm ET.
At 10:30 am ET, Sen./Dr./Leader Frist and Sen./Soldier/Compromiser John McCain hold a joint press avail to discuss the Bolton nomination. Frist has a noon stakeout scheduled following the party policy luncheons.
The Senate Finance Committee marks up the DR-CAFTA bill at 10:00 am ET. At 2:00 pm ET in the House, the Government Reform Committee holds a hearing on the impact of drug trafficking on U.S. borders.
Following the Supreme Court's controversial decision on medical marijuana last week, Reps. Maurice Hinchey, Dana Rohrabacher, Sam Farr, and Supreme Court plaintiff Angel Raich hold a news conference at 10:30 am ET. today to discuss a possible medical marijuana amendment to an appropriations bill.
At 6:30 pm ET, the Hispanic Council on International Relations hosts an awards dinner honoring Sen. John McCain and Rep. Robert Menendez.
Two actual elections to keep an eye on today:
Voters in Virginia get to decide, among other things, who will become the GOP candidate in the gubernatorial race. Polls open at 6:00 am ET and close at 7:00 pm ET. Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and former mayor George Fitch are seeking the Republican nomination in hopes winning when election time rolls around later this year. If Fitch gets more than, say, 15 percent of the vote, take notice.
In Ohio, polls open today at 6:30 am ET and close at 7:30 pm ET in the special primary election for Ohio's 2nd congressional district seat. The field of candidates includes 11 Republicans and six Democrats, among them Democrat Charles Sanders, who has lost to former 2nd District Rep. Rob Portman a total of four times, and Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine (R).
At noon today, the Pew Hispanic Center holds a telephone briefing prior to the release of its most recent report, "Unauthorized Migrants: Numbers and Characteristics."
The DC Pro Chapter inducts the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, CNN's Candy Crowley, and the Baltimore Sun's Lyle Denniston into its hall of fame as part of its journalism awards dinner at 7:00 pm ET.at the National Press Club.
If Morgan Spurlock's brand of activism is your fat-laden breakfast sandwich, join him and liberals for a screening of his new FX documentary, "30 Days," at the Regal Gallery Place Cinemas in Washington at 5:45 pm ET.
Heads-up for Sunday:
C-SPAN profiles two potential candidates for the 2008 presidential campaign in "Road to the White House 2008" airing at 6:30 pm ET on Sunday. This week's program showcases Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark.
The Washington Post's Michael Shear Notes the change in Virginia's voting today, as both parties hold their primaries simultaneously. LINK
Pamela Stallsmith of the Richmond-Times Dispatch reports that campaigns still seem to be going strong even with doors swinging open for today's Virginia primaries. "The two Republican lieutenant governor candidates, who were virtually tied at $1.5 million each as of June 1, continue to pick up late gifts in what's considered one of today's tightest races." LINK
Ray McAllister, also of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, proposes to move the primary to early autumn -- even though Larry Sabato won't commit unwavering support -- when people's minds are clear of the summer hubbub. LINK
The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Julian Walker explains why some last-minute voter registrants in Chesterfield county might have a problem at the polling booths. LINK
The AP reports, "Turnout is expected to be light in today's special primary election in Ohio's Second Congressional District, which stretches from Cincinnati's suburbs to the Appalachian counties in the east . . . Elections officials predict a turnout of about 20 percent . . . " LINK
"DeWine's campaign has spent the final week on life support with observers and strategists alike debating whether he still has even a remote chance of winning today's crowded GOP contest, which will be tantamount to election in this heavily Republican suburban Cincinnati seat," reports Roll Call.
The Hill takes a look at DeWine's use of his father's financial rolodex. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon writes that high gas prices might be the thing that pushes the energy bill to passage in the Senate, and explains not only the details of the legislation but also the factors that are making lawmakers more amenable to hashing it out. Note in particular the issue of gas additive MTBE, cast as a looming issue in 2008 last week by Roll Call's Mark Preston, which could pose a major stumbling block as members of both houses of Congress wrangle over liability protections for its manufacturers. The Senate bill, Simon Notes, does not contain a provision for oil and natural gas drilling in ANWR. LINK
Per the AP: "Florida's U.S. senators and a coalition of their colleagues will delay a vote on a federal energy bill until a ban on drilling in federal waters off Florida and other states is extended, Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday." LINK
Continues Roll Call's Emily Pierce: "Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) may have successfully avoided the traditional Senate land mines, opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and giving the makers of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether immunity from lawsuits, but it looks like Nelson is going to try to turn the issue of offshore oil and natural gas drilling into this year's ANWR and MTBE."
"Domenici acknowledged the debate over how to ensure that Louisiana gets more money from it's (sic) current offshore oil rigs, while protecting Florida and other states with moratoria on offshore drilling is a 'very hot, volatile' issue. Although Nelson and Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) -- along with other opponents of allowing energy companies to drill off their states' coasts -- have been working to craft a compromise with offshore drilling proponent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said Friday that Nelson is ready 'to grind the doggone place to a halt.'"
"That could mean forcing votes to end debate on unrelated amendments and employing other procedural tie-ups in an attempt to slow down the bill, McLaughlin said. By objecting to unanimous consent requests to vote on amendments, Nelson could force a protracted debate on even the most innocuous of proposals, which, in turn, could thwart Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-Tenn.) plan to push for final passage by the end of next week."
President Bush's meeting with Kang Chol Hwan, a journalist and author of "The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in a North Korean Gulag," could provoke the North Koreans just as the negotiations were getting back on track, the Washington Post's Baker and Kessler write, but activists are happy nonetheless. LINK
"A senior State Department official said Monday that he believed North Korea wanted to return to six-nation talks on its nuclear weapons program, but that the United States would not parrot language demanded by North Korea like a circus animal to lure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table," writes Los Angeles Times' Efron. LINK
The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher wraps President Bush's promise yesterday to the leaders of Mozambique, Botswana, Ghana, Namibia and Niger to boost foreign aid to Africa by pushing to add more countries to the Millennium Challenge Account, and his praise of the African Growth and Opportunity Act for lowering trade barriers between the U.S. and 37 African nations. LINK
"President Bush on Monday called President Jalal Talabani of Iraq to encourage him and other leaders to break the stalemate over how many Sunni Arabs to include in the writing of a permanent constitution and to meet an Aug. 15 deadline for completing a draft of the document," report the Washington Post's Jonathan Finer and Salih Saif Aldin. LINK
The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Josh White wrap Vice President Cheney's assertion yesterday that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba should be kept open. "Although President Bush kept open the possibility of closing the prison outpost in Cuba, Cheney said such a move would be unwise because the United States needs a special prison to hold and interrogate potential terrorists captured around the world. Cheney said prisoners there are treated 'far better' than they would be by any other government and disagreed sharply with critics who charge the United States' image has been undermined by allegations of abuse at the facility." LINK
AP looks at the Republicans defending the existence of, and the conditions at, Guantanamo Bay. LINK
AP reports that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is aiming for a Bolton vote this week. LINK
Duke Cunningham's "deal:"
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) defended the sale of his home to a Nevada company whose corporate officer is a defense contractor that has gotten millions of dollars in deals -- some approved by a committee on which Cunningham serves -- saying Monday in a written statement that "this was an above board transaction." The company, 1523 New Hampshire Avenue LLC, sold the house at a $700,000 loss. LINK
"Democrats are calling for a full-scale investigation of Rep. Duke Cunningham's (R-Calif.) sale of his San Diego home to a defense contractor," reports Roll Call's John Bresnahan. "Cunningham sold his home in San Diego in November 2003 to a Nevada-based corporation owned by Mitchell Wade. Wade is president of MZM Inc., a defense contractor specializing in classified intelligence work. The Nevada corporation, for which Wade is the only officer, lost nearly $700,000 when it resold the home more than eight months later. As a senior member of the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees, Cunningham helps oversee contracts awarded to MZM. The Defense Department reported that MZM received $65 million in federal contracts in fiscal year 2004, placing it 37th among all defense-contracting firms."
"The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported Cunningham's home sale on Sunday." "In a statement released Monday, Cunningham denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with Wade. Cunningham insisted that the house he sold to Wade went for a price that was in line with other home sales in the area. Cunningham used a local real estate firm to help establish the sale price, although the actual sale was a private transaction between Cunningham and Wade's Nevada company. The San Diego realtor, Elizabeth Todd, and her husband, Whitney, donated $3,000 to Cunningham's re-election campaign in the 2001-02 election cycle, according to federal campaign records."
"A bribery or illegal gratuity case against Cunningham would rest largely on whether Wade paid an excessively high price for Cunningham's home in return for an official action, noted several ethics experts, and would be difficult to prove."
Seriously, it's almost more fun to read Mike Allen's story about the Republican fundraiser (or, in Rep. Jack Kingston's comparison, church-building fund) than to attend it -- not to mention the hard slog of fundraising for the members of Congress. LINK
Grover Norquist on the AMT or "stealth tax" as told to The Hill's Schor: "'This is a favor to the blue states,' he said. He has coordinated a Zero AMT Caucus on Capitol Hill but adds, 'Democrats have to explain why a Republican Congress should take time out of their busy schedules to help on this. I'm certainly not in favor of fixing their problems for nothing in return.'" LINK
Norquist is not expected to testify at the upcoming Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings on lobbying abuses, reports The Hill. LINK
Avis Thomas-Lester of the Washington Post examines the roots and ultimate resolution of the Senate's apology for its failure to enact anti-lynching legislation long ago. LINK
Mary Curtius of the Los Angeles Times turns in a spectacular view of the Senate's apology from the point of view of those who were victimized by lynchings. LINK
Samantha Levine of the Houston Chronicle covers congressional leaders who are ready to work on immigration reform as soon as President Bush puts forth his plans in July. LINK
The housing market:
Three resonating graphs from a Wall Street Journal editorial: "For the list of worst Congressional legislation ever, we have a new candidate: last month's debacle in the House Financial Services Committee on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In the name of reforming these 'government-sponsored' mortgage giants, the Members voted to make them even more financially dangerous, while grabbing a chunk of their profits for political payola to boot."
"Chairman Mike Oxley and friends voted to create a new 'affordable housing fund' to the tune of $600 million or more a year. Already facing deserved criticism for being under-capitalized, Fannie and Freddie would have to dole out 5% of their after-tax income each year to an assortment of 'non-profit and for-profit housing organizations, government agencies and lenders.' This means passing out $3 billion and potentially much more over five years to anyone in the housing industry who is politically well connected -- say, anyone with a pal on the Financial Services Committee."
"It's no surprise that Democrats favor this kind of income redistribution to Acorn and other liberal interest groups, but the key to its passage was Republicans. California's Gary Miller (a homebuilder by trade) and Ohio's Bob Ney led a bloc of eight or so GOP Members who told Mr. Oxley they'd defeat the entire Fannie reform package if the 'affordable housing' subsidy wasn't included."
Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor looks at the new conventional wisdom being espoused by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, which focuses on the ever-increasing disparities of wealth among the U.S. population, and the need for greater education to keep the U.S., indeed capitalism, functioning in the global economy. LINK
"Charitable giving rose somewhat last year, reflecting economic stability and stock gains that helped pump up foundation assets and corporate profits," writes the New York Times' Stephanie Strom. "Americans and their institutions gave away an estimated $248.52 billion, a 2.3 percent increase on an inflation-adjusted basis over their 2003 contributions, which were essentially unchanged from the previous year." LINK
In his New York Post column, John Podhoretz explains why Howard Dean may be exactly what the Democratic Party needs these days. LINK
". . .it's not quite clear Republicans should be gleeful. Dean serves several useful purposes for his party, and history may record that he was the perfect man for the job in 2005."
"Democrats generated a great deal of passion in 2003 and 2004, and to some extent that passion produced spectacular results: 59 million votes cast for John Kerry, the second largest vote total in American history."
More: ". . .by defining the outer limit of his party, Dean may be offering the Democrats who want to run for president an unmistakable opportunity. By playing the role of the lunatic leftist, he makes it far easier for them to seem like the souls of moderation. By talking crazy, he makes everybody else seem sane."
The Boston Herald previews Dean's trip there. LINK
House of Labor:
The Washington Times' William Glanz fills in a sketch of the new coalition for growth that five unions plan to announce tomorrow. "Today, the executive board of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union also plans to discuss leaving the AFL-CIO. The new coalition could serve as an umbrella organization for the dissident unions. Union officials yesterday cautioned that it is premature to say the five unions are forming a new federation, but the Web site outlined some goals of the 'Change to Win Coalition.' The Change to Win Coalition said its campaign is rooted in enlisting millions of women, immigrants and minorities in unions. The coalition also proposes the formation of a 15-member executive committee that includes four positions for minorities." LINK
Carl Campanile of the New York Post writes up the day full of endorsements on the New York City mayoral campaign trail. Former Deaniacs for Miller, RWDSU for Weiner, and some Hispanic elected officials for Ferrer. LINK
Michael Bloomberg is off to Africa (with former Mayor David Dinkins in tow) this weekend to push for the city's revised Olympic bid. LINK
And how's this for a typical Manhattan-centric photo caption: "Queens has most of the city's cemeteries and airplane noise. 'Men In Black' joined many residents in mocking the leftovers from the 1964 World's Fair. The Elmhurst Gas Tanks were beloved landmarks until they came down in 1996."
If Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) hopes to make the first-ever Capitol Hill corridors-direct-to-Iowa's governor's chair transition, he may first have some splainin' to do, reports Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register. With the public's prevailing woe-is-me attitude toward Congress, Iowa Democrats are/will continue interjecting the current deficit -- and Nussle's hand in drafting the federal budget -- into the debate. Nussle's reply: "bring it on." LINK
"America Coming Together (ACT), a 527 soft-money group allied with the Democratic Party, has raised nearly $6 million since early January and plans to spend roughly $30 million in a handful of battleground states this year and next," reports The Hill's Alexander Bolton. LINK
Be sure to Note the battle over control of the voter files and S. Rosenthal's assertion that tensions in the labor movement have not affected ACT's fundraising.
Andrew Cuomo is posting a 9-point lead over Mark Green in the latest Siena College poll of the Democratic primary race for New York Attorney General. LINK
We're not sure if the story Robert Caro told last night at a Mark Green fundraiser about his remembrances of a young Green as a Senate intern in 1967 will help or hurt the candidate's poll position, but we do know that any journalist in his right mind should use the anecdote as his lead when next profiling Mr. Green.
Roll Call's Paul Kane reports that Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV) are seeking the numbers 3 and 4 Republican leadership spots -- Republican Conference chairman and Policy Committee chairman, which are expected to come open after the 2006 elections.
A joint appearance in Virginia by Gov. Mark Warner and Sen. George Allen.
Thank you to the Hampton Roads, Virginia Daily Press (and to the National Journal Group, Inc., for the tip-off):
"Direct and unflinching in their comments on education, their attitude changed while chatting with reporters about politics." LINK
"'Asked about the possibility of an all-Virginia presidential election in 2008, Allen turned to Warner and said, "Governor?'"
"Warner: 'No. You're in the business much longer than I am.'"
"Neither strayed from his script: Allen is running for re-election to the Senate and wants to concentrate on that. Warner said he has several initiatives he wants to complete during his final few months in office."
"Warner downplayed any urgency."
"'I think there will be plenty of time for both of us to make decisions on what, if anything, we do in politics in the future,' he said."
"Allen smiled and said, 'I just love the faces of all these reporters here.'"
"Later, he addressed the gaggle of media again."
"'Gang,' he said, 'why don't we just celebrate the fact that when one looks at the future of this country and the future of this commonwealth, one of the key things that we both agree on is that we do need to make sure our youngsters are learning?'"
We do not mean to undermine the dignity of the Senate's apology for failing to pass anti-lynching legislation by putting this article in this section; the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg leaves us no choice, Noting quite explicitly what some see as mixed motives for Sen. George Allen's prominent role in pushing the resolution.
"Others described the resolution as an act of expediency for Mr. Allen, who is a likely presidential candidate and who has been criticized for displaying a Confederate flag at his home and a noose in his law office. Mr. Allen said that they were part of collections of flags and Western paraphernalia and that he was motivated not by politics, but by a plea by Dick Gregory, the civil rights advocate, who wrote him a letter urging him not to 'choose to do nothing.'" LINK
The Schwarzenegger era:
The Los Angeles Times' Jordan Rau lays out the issues that will be on the ballot in the Nov. 8 special election that Gov. Schwarzenegger called yesterday, and does an excellent job of explaining how and why Schwarzenegger reached this point. LINK
"The election will be the most critical test of Schwarzenegger's administration, a test in which he faces well-funded opponents and some reluctance even from powerful figures in his own party," write Hubbell and Martin of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK
"It sets the stage for a political war for control of Sacramento pitting the governor's big-business allies against Democrats and labor unions, two of his principal detractors. And it's a confrontation that political experts say could have national ramifications."
Scott Malyerck has been named the head of the South Carolina Republican Party. Malyerck replaces Luke Byars, who stepped down to work as state director for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe writes that although some Senate members are efforting proposals to lower emission standards that cause global warming, the White House is side stepping the issue and has no current plans on the table. LINK
John McCain and James Carville go Hollywood in the upcoming movie, "The Wedding Crashers," reports The Hill. LINK
A Superior Court judge in Spokane, WA ruled on Monday that residents who want Mayor Jim West to leave office should get a chance to gather signatures on a recall petition, the Spokesman-Review's Jim Camden reports. LINK