WASHINGTON, June 28
Dear Mr. President:
Which would more completely blot out your speech -- a SCOTUS retirement announcement or a resolution to the Natalee Holloway case?
That's potentially the most important factor to consider as you do that final run-through of the text on the flight to the Tar Heel State.
Other things by which you shouldn't let yourself be distracted:
Matt Lauer said this on network TV this morning:
"Twenty-one after the hour. If you'd like to watch President Bush's address to the nation tonight on Iraq, you can see it at 8:00 Eastern Time on MSNBC. Back in a moment on a Tuesday morning, this is Today, on NBC."
(A Note program Note: At this writing, as far as we know, here's what is on NBC instead of you:
Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back LINK
"Stunning 26-year-old red-headed Anna is looking for love. Can she find it with an average Joe? Watch as this unsuspecting model is surprised by the arrival, not of traditional leading men, but by a swarm of well-intentioned average Joes."
"The enthusiastic guys hope to woo and win her over with their charm and personalities. But first, they'll have to navigate through an all-new series of dramatic challenges, outrageous surprises - and their toughest competition yet - seven strikingly handsome jocks who are cocky and confident that Anna will only have eyes for them."
"Plus, each week one lucky Joe gets a total makeover and surprises Anna with his new look. With plenty of romance, a trip to Tahiti and new twists at every turn, this new season promises lots of summer fun. Hunks beware, the Joes are fighting back!")
Also, Mr. President, don't take your eye off of the ball to focus on:
The Boston Globe's obsession with Gov. Romney's political life; Gov. Vilsack's pending DLC ascendancy; or Sen./Leader/Dr. Frist's rumination and constitutional/nuclear taunt.
Instead, please focus on what some people call "the speech," but we call "The Speech."
There was a time early on in your national political career where it was fashionable for the Gang of 500 to knowingly remind each other that you always rose to the moment when a big speech was called for.
More recently, sir, as Dan Bartlett is honest enough to tell you, you have had some misses. Perhaps the main measure of success tonight is whether or not you offer some effective straight talk about the violence people are seeing on their TV sets each morning and night. We're quite sure you understand that.
Your goal: to provide Americans with some context for those images. Our sense is that you will seek to explain how, despite the violence, Iraqis are meeting important deadlines in the political process -- including deadlines that some handwringers in the Senate (most of them know who they are) have suggested be postponed (elections and the transfer of sovereignty). You'll likely suggest that those naysers represent a defeatism that you do not share.
The left is already trashing the speech, calling the troops at Ft. Bragg "props" and the media "stooges" for even covering your talk.
But the nation is at war and you are the Commander-in-Chief. Events on the ground matter, of course -- but so do your words. Democrats and left-leaning independents matter, of course -- okay, maybe they don't all that much in this context. Tonight is about winning back the base, and turning some of those 55-45-against poll numbers back around.
As your friend Jacques Chirac would say, "Bon chance."
So -- barring a Supreme Court retirement or retirements today, the intense bracketing of the President's speech tonight on Iraq will consume the continuous news cycle.
And yes -- you can catch it live on the regular ol' ABC television network beginning at 8:00 pm ET.
(And full coverage on your local ABC station, ABC News radio, ABC News.com, and ABC News Now.)
The President's speech marks the first anniversary of the transfer of power in Iraq. ABC News' Karen Travers reminds us that that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan described the speech as new and very specific about the United States' two-track strategy for success there and an opportunity for the American people to hear directly from the President. Just as Joe Biden wanted.
Before his speech, the President will meet with families of fallen soldiers at Fort Bragg at 3:40 pm ET.
This morning, Mr. Bush broke bread at the White House with congressional leaders at one of their regular breakfast meetings that was delayed from weeks ago. (At the stake out, Rep. Nancy Pelosi said, ""This is a situation we created and now it is a magnet for terrorists." Per ABC News' Jessica Yellin, Pelosi had this advice for Bush: "stabilize, energize and Iraqitize.")
Democrats attempted to pre-butted the speech in a news conference yesterday; today, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid addresses the Senate stakeout at 2:15 pm ET; Pelosi holds a press conference with Rep. John Murtha this afternoon; expect to lots of members on cable and local television.
Sample message: "I hope tonight the President gives the troops at Ft. Bragg and all of us who support them more than just a pep rally. Those soldiers deserve a real plan for victory: one that sets a realistic course for the future."
On the left, Moveon.org unveils new TV and print ads with the message "We got into Iraq the wrong way . . . let's get out the right way" at 10:00 am ET today. The ads are scheduled to beginning running on television shortly before the President delivers his speech. They feature Sen. Chuck Hagel's criticism of the White House's public posture on the war. The $500,000 national buy suggests that the ad is intended attract attention to itself. Ergo: see the last line of Dick Stevenson's short New York Times preview. LINK
MoveOn professes to be thrilled with all the attention the Administration is giving to it of late (Karl Rove's speech, Sec. Rumsfeld on the Sunday shows). Lots of hits to the website, millions of angry members, etc. Not incidentally, the more MoveOn associates itself with the "Bring Out Troops Home" wing of the Democratic Party, the happier the White House is. A classic example of mutual, cycle-interpartisan, partially-intentional back-scratching.
The Republican National Committee plans a research release today entitled "Democrats Continue To Call For Withdrawal Of Troops And Claim Liberating Iraq Has Made Us Less Safe."
Lots of Ted Kennedy references therein.
In Fayetteville, anti-war activists and veterans groups hold a press conference at 1:00 pm ET.
At 10:30 am, Sen. Bill Frist elucidates his philosophy of jurisprudence and judicial nominations in a speech at the Heritage Foundation. This is the first time, we are told, that the Majority Leader has publicly given voice to his criteria for acceptable Supreme Court nominees. And the speech seems to be a primer on Dr. Frist's self-perception of his leadership acumen: what he's been able to do on judges, where he's failed, and what remains.
In his speech, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News, Frist calls for civility, and suggests that the so-called "constitutional option" of changing Senate rules to provide up or down votes on judicial nominees remains on the table, especially if Democrats hint at filibustering a potential Supreme Court nominee.
Frist stops short of threatening to unsheathe that option immediately, but he promises his audience that "should there be a vacancy" he will "continue to lead on principle" -- which means that he'll work to give every nominee "the courtesy of an up or down vote."
Frist calls on Senators to "commit themselves in word and deed to repairing the judicial confirmation process. And they should do so right now . . . at this moment . . . in this Congress."
Frist acknowledges that Democrats want a consultative role in the process (which Republicans believe is a code word for "filibuster") but counters that they must give their opinions and advice in a "fair" way, which Democrats will doubtless read as "he's gonna trigger the nuclear option if we filibuster."
Frist, who says he will retire at the end of the term, also presents six questions he asks himself to determine whether a particular nominee is acceptable: "What makes a good Supreme Court justice? Will the nominee be fair, independent, and unbiased? Will the nominee place the Constitution and the law above any personal political ideology? Does the nominee understand that his or her job is to interpret the law, not legislate from the bench? Is the nominee qualified and experienced in comparison to his or her peers? Is the nominee a person of demonstrated character and integrity?"
Frist is also expected to appear before the party policy luncheon stakeout around noon ET today.
The Senate itself starts to vote today on the energy bill. House Minority Leader Tom DeLay has a pen and pad at 10:55 am ET.
The Supreme Court meets at 10:00 am ET to release orders (and maybe a paper statement announcing a retirement?).
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a 10:00 am ET hearing on the regulation of Indian gambling.
The House Military Personnel Subcommittee conducts a hearing at 2:00 pm ET to examine the religious climate of the Air Force Academy.
At 9:00 am ET, the Senate Finance Committee marks up CAFTA, approving the removal of Burmese import restrictions.
The 9/11 Public Discourse Project hosts a panel at 9:30 am ET on "Securing the Homeland" with former Senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey.
The Federal Election Commission meets at 9:30 am ET for the first of two public hearings on proposed rules for the Internet and politics.
A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee begins two days of hearings today on a bill that would permit the deportation of aliens involved in street gangs.
Treasury Secretary John Snow speaks to the Council of Foreign Relations at 5:30 pm ET, wrapping up a two-day visit to Connecticut and New York to promote President Bush's economic plans.
Former Sen. John Edwards travels to New Mexico and Arizona today for the first of a series of ACORN-sponsored events calling for an increase in the minimum wage.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean takes the stage for the "Moving America Forward" rally shaking Columbia, SC at 5:00 pm ET.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) holds a pen-and-pad press briefing at 11:30 am ET to discuss Bush's strategy for Iraq as well as Social Security reform.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich weighs in on the future of conservatism with Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) at 8:15 am ET at the American Enterprise Institute. At 10:15 am ET, Gingrich speaks at the DC Primary Care Association's 2005 Minority Health Conference.
The Institute for Policy Studies and Cities for Progress toast Rep. Barbara Woolsey (D-CA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the new co-chairwomen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, at a 5:00 pm ET reception.
At 9:00 am ET, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) headlines a conference entitled "Is the European Union in the Interests of the United States?" sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. Stick around to hear Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) share his views on restoring fairness to the Senate's judicial confirmation process at 10:30 am ET.
The New Politics Institute convenes its first forum on the future of progressive media at noon ET.
The Progressive Student Initiative -- a new organization striving to cull and rally the nation's next generation of progressives -- celebrates its birth at a 6:00 pm ET reception today.
The President's speech: the ABC News/Washington Post poll:
The new ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests Americans remain unhappy with the situation in Iraq, but nearly six in 10 are willing to stick it out by keeping U.S. troops in place until order is restored there.
"That expression of resolve works to President Bush's advantage as he prepares to address the nation on Iraq, as does a slight improvement in some bottom-line measures," reports ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer. "But steep challenges remain: Recriminations against his administration have jumped, with a majority for the first time saying it "intentionally misled" the public in going to war, and nearly three-quarters saying it underestimated the challenges involved." LINK
"A record 57 percent also now say the administration intentionally exaggerated its evidence that pre-war Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Views such as these cut to the administration's basic credibility and competence, vital commodities as Bush tries to turn public opinion in a more favorable direction.."
Fifty-three percent of Americans say the war was not worth fighting, 53 percent say they're optimistic about progress in Iraq over the next year, and 52 percent say the war has improved the security of the United States over the long term. That said, majorities emerge negatively characterizing the situation right now. Bush's approval rating remains at 48 percent.
The Washington Post's Rich Morin and Dan Balz lead with the skepticism of a majority of the American public toward President Bush's positive claims of progress against the insurgency in Iraq, and their willingness to see it through. LINK
"So far, continuing spasms of violence in Iraq are competing with regular declarations of progress in Washington. Few people agree with Vice President Cheney's recent claim that the insurgency is in its 'last throes.' The survey found that 22 percent of Americans -- barely one in five -- say they believe that the insurgency is getting weaker, while 24 percent believe it is strengthening. More than half -- 53 percent -- say resistance to U.S. and Iraqi government forces has not changed, a view that matches the assessment offered last week in congressional testimony by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. John P. Abizaid."
". . . For the first time, a narrow majority -- 52 percent -- said the administration deliberately misled the public before the war, a nine-point increase in three months. Forty-eight percent said the administration told the public what it believed to be true at the time."
The President's speech: in context:
Susan Page of USA Today looks at her paper's poll with Gallup and CNN, which shows one in three Americans saying the U.S. and its allies are winning the war in Iraq. The survey showed Bush with a 45 percent approval rating, and Page Notes that "[b]y a record 61%-37%, those surveyed say the president doesn't have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq." Fifty-one percent said they want to see a timetable for withdrawing troops. LINK
John Yaukey of Gannett News Service looks at the stakes of the President's speech. LINK
The Washington Post's Glenn Frankel offers an excellent look at the spate of documents from British officials to Prime Minister Tony Blair in the spring of 2002 indicating private worry about American policy toward Iraq and predictions of problems for both Britain and the U.S., from poor planning to a lack of public support, while publicly they supported President Bush's push to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. LINK
"Pentagon auditors have questioned more than $1 billion in costs by contracting giant Halliburton Co. for its work in Iraq, a number several times higher than previously disclosed, according to a report by congressional Democrats," reports the Washington Post's Griff White. This includes $442 million that were "unsupported." LINK
Bloomberg's Janine Zacharia and Tony Capaccio highlight what one prof calls the "Vietnamization" of Iraq.
The President's speech: hometown pride:
The Raleigh News & Observer tees up its coverage with a handy dandy Tar Heel State poll. LINK
"The statewide survey, conducted over the weekend for The News & Observer and WRAL-TV, found that 42 percent of active voters agree the war has been worth it, but 49 percent say it has not."
"That's a sharp erosion in support for the war since January 2004, when Bush defended the invasion of Iraq in a State of the Union address that kicked off his re-election campaign."
"Back then, the survey showed that 58 percent of Tar Heel voters said the war was worthwhile."
More: President Bush "also plans to meet with families of soldiers who have been killed. More than 2,200 of the 82nd's troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq. The division has seen more than 40 soldiers killed and more than 450 injured in action since 2001, officials say."
The Fayetteville Observer's Matt Leclercq provides an excellent hometown curtain raiser. LINK
On some of the reasons Fort Bragg was chosen for tonight's presidential backdrop: "Fort Bragg's 18th Airborne Corps is the force that's in charge of Iraq operations. Add in a bit of politics - North Carolina is an important state to Republicans -- and Bush is likely to get a warm reception."
On presidential visit history: "The last few times that presidents have swooped into town haven't been under such weighty circumstances. In September 1974, President Ford flew into the Tar Heel state to dedicate the World Golf Hall of Fame in Pinehurst. President Carter graced a Haymount church in 1977 to attend his nephew's wedding. And 10 years later, when Bob Hope was filming a television show at Pope Air Force Base, President Reagan stopped by to wish him a happy birthday."
"Less jovial was President Clinton's 1994 stopover. He met with Fort Bragg soldiers injured in the fiery crash of a fighter jet and a C-130 that left 23 dead."
Our favorite line: "Depending on what the president says tonight, history books could forever mark this his 'Fort Bragg speech.'"
The Raleigh News & Observer asked readers to submit some thoughts they would like to tell the President as he arrives at Fort Bragg today. Here's a sampling of the response: LINK
The N&O also has the schedule of anti-war protests and vigils. LINK
The Charlotte Observer's Mark Johnson headed over to Jacksonville's Kettle Diner and got an earful on Rep. Walter Jones' (R-NC) call for a timetable to withdraw troops. LINK
The President's speech: opinions and questions and answers:
John Kerry, a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, writes in a New York Times op-ed that " The reality is that the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war - a breeding ground for jihadists. Today there are 16,000 to 20,000 jihadists and the number is growing. The administration has put itself - and, tragically, our troops, who pay the price every day - in a box of its own making. Getting out of this box won't be easy, but we owe it to our soldiers to make our best effort." LINK
"So what should the president say tonight? The first thing he should do is tell the truth to the American people. Happy talk about the insurgency being in 'the last throes' leads to frustrated expectations at home. It also encourages reluctant, sidelined nations that know better to turn their backs on their common interest in keeping Iraq from becoming a failed state."
"The president must also announce immediately that the United States will not have a permanent military presence in Iraq. Erasing suspicions that the occupation is indefinite is critical to eroding support for the insurgency. He should also say that the United States will insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the Constitution and holding elections in December. We're doing our part: our huge military presence stands between the Iraqi people and chaos, and our special forces protect Iraqi leaders. The Iraqis must now do theirs."
Dan Senor writes in the Wall Street Journal on the war as he sees it today: "With no coverage of pre-election politics, it is not surprising that Americans were caught completely off-guard when some eight million Iraqis risked their lives to vote. Since the election, coverage of the violence, as valid as it is, has once again obscured major developments. In political terms, Iraq followed the timeline we envisioned, achieving a string of concrete and unprecedented political successes: the drafting of an interim constitution in February 2004; the formation of a multi-ethnic interim government in June that year; followed by the early hand over of sovereignty the same month; culminating in the dramatic election in January this year."
"But we also expected the insurgency to progressively dry up as Iraqis became politically empowered and democratic institutions took shape. This hasn't happened, at least not at the rate we had anticipated. And so, Iraqis find themselves in an awful paradox: vibrant democratic politics that gives them hope coexisting with a drumbeat of terrorist attacks that gives them fear. How do Iraqis endure these conditions? To understand the Iraqi experience, we must keep in mind that they are emerging from three decades of totalitarianism. The majority of Iraqis are under the age of 35 and have only known the fear, torture and genocide of life under Saddam Hussein. They have yet to experience an environment free of violence."
Sen. Evan Byah wants the President to give the "unvarnished" truth to Americans. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Chris Cooper sketches the evolution of media coverage of the DSM.
The President's speech: from the notebook of Karen Travers:
Not including his Feb. 2 State of the Union address and Republican National Convention speech (Sept. 2), President Bush's last prime-time address was at the Army War College Carlisle, PA on May 24, 2004.
That speech was one in a series of speeches on Iraq that the President delivered leading up to the transition of power there on June 28, 2004. In the Army War College speech, the President also sought to reassure the public that the United States had a clear plan for success in Iraq.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll from May 23, 2004 found that 40 percent of Americans approved of the way President Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, while 58 percent disapproved.
In the latest poll released Monday, those numbers were 43 percent who approve and 56 percent who disapprove of the President's handling of Iraq.
On May 23, 2004, 65 percent of those polled said that the U.S. has gotten bogged down in Iraq. Today 62 percent agree with that statement.
Yesterday, McClellan said that the American people are "rightly concerned" about where the U.S. is in Iraq.
"That's a top priority for this country; it's a top priority for the President of the United States," he said. "The American people want to see our troops return home, but I think they understand the importance of succeeding in Iraq. And the President will talk about that in his remarks. I think we all want to see the troops come home sooner than later, and the way to get our troops home is to complete the mission."
SCOTUS: the next nominee:
Jeanne Cummings in the Wall Street Journal deciphers the code of corporate interests and judicial nomination politics. It's a must-read.
"The emerging corporate agenda is different from, and at times contradicts, that of their religious-conservative allies. The Christian right, represented by groups such as the Family Research Council in Washington, has been lobbying the Bush administration to appoint a Supreme Court justice who opposes abortion and gay marriage and favors school prayer and public religious displays. Top business priorities include more protection for intellectual-property rights, more flexibility in clean-air emissions standards, restriction of jury awards and a lenient interpretation of the Sarbanes-Oxley law that imposes new accountability and disclosure requirements on businesses."
"Business cases, many concerning the reach of regulation and interaction of state and federal governments, consume a large chunk of the Supreme Court's docket. Now for the first time, the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents big corporations, is creating a committee of executives to screen the business rulings of prospective nominees. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a broader business constituency, is combing federal rulings and readying a team to analyze a nominee's record as 'a liability expander or a liability restrainer.'"
"Business advocates concede that previously they hadn't been as aggressive as social conservatives when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. The complexity of the business issues that come before the high court and worries about alienating Senate allies help explain the difference."
"What business wants from the high court sometimes undercuts basic conservative principles. One example has to do with federal authority and states rights. Corporations increasingly have sought protection from unfavorable state laws and court rulings by arguing that federal law 'pre-empts,' or sets aside, that of the states. This argument could be used to rein in ambitious state attorneys general, such as New York's Eliot Spitzer, who has tried to apply more stringent standards for corporations than those sought by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency."
"Religious conservatives, by contrast, tend to embrace the more traditional conservative position favoring states rights. So they encourage states and municipalities to stretch or go beyond high court precedent on abortion, prayer in public or religious displays. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a former Louisiana legislator, says he is well aware that businesses wants national rules that pre-empt the sometimes-conflicting patchwork of state and local regulation. But 'that is inconsistent with the predominant judicial philosophy that the president has nominated,' he says."
"In some cases, the biggest heroes of social conservatives -- Justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia -- have given jitters to corporate lawyers."
SCOTUS: the term's end:
The New York Times' Linda Greenhouse gets to the heart of the Ten Commandments cases: "To the extent that the decisions provided guidelines for the further cases that are all but certain to follow, it appeared to be that religious symbols that have been on display for many years, with little controversy, are likely to be upheld, while newer displays intended to advance a modern religious agenda will be met with suspicion and disfavor from the court." LINK
A judge in Washington, D.C. will hear arguments Wednesday about when Judith Miller and Matt Cooper should begin their jail time. LINK
The New York Times' Adam Liptak writes that recent court rulings from all levels of the judiciary show an increasing skepticism about special protections for the press. LINK
The New York Times' Todd Purdum on the vacancy that wasn't (yet): LINK
USA Today's Joan Biskupic Notes Chief Justice Rehnquist's Mona Lisa smile about his future. LINK
The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont writes that as the Democratic Leadership Council -- headed once upon a time by Bill Clinton -- bids adieu to Chairman Evan Bayh and Tom Vilsack steps up to the helm, experts agree that the Iowa governor will need more than just this credit on his Democratic transcript to vie for (that most coveted previously-held-by-Clinton-role) the presidency. LINK
Roll Call's Mark Preston Notes that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will take a key policy-making role at the DLC.
We wish a speedy recovery to Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who took a fall from his bike yesterday as part of the Valley Byways Tour and broke two bones in his right hand. LINK
OK, so things might've gotten a little out of hand at the College Republicans convention last week, but thank goodness Grover Norquist clarified his comment calling Sen. John McCain "the nut-job from Arizona" to "gun-grabbing, tax-increasing Bolshevik." We also imagine that Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are relieved that he didn't mean to insult them by calling them the "two girls from Maine." LINK
Roll Call's Mary Ann Akers got a much better statement from Mark Salter in the McCain v. Norquist fistfight than the Washington Post did: "'There's never been a shortage of blowhards and bores in this town. I'm sure Grover is comfortable in their crowded ranks, but that hardly merits the attention he craves. I assume he wants to provoke us, but it's hard to work up much interest for someone who in his continued warm embrace of Jack Abramoff is doing a more than adequate job of marginalizing himself. . . . Most Reagan revolutionaries came to Washington to do something more patriotic than rip off Indian tribes.'"
Republicans from Macomb and Oakland Counties in Michigan are putting pressure on John McCain to help revive Henry Saad's appellate court nomination, reports Alexander Bolton of The Hill. LINK
Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe covers the New England Governors Association at Faneuil Hall yesterday. The national landmark was closed to tourists who were upset and disappointed, but the doors were opened to politicians and corporate donors, including representatives of Halliburton and Exelon. Gov. Mitt Romney, the national vice chairman, hosted the reception that ran donors up to $50,000.
Phillips reports: "Romney and other Republican leaders seemed uneasy, too. Members of the Republican Governors Association staff instructed some participants leaving the hall to remove their nametags -- some bearing the names of corporate giants -- to avoid being identified by a reporter." LINK
Make sure you read the Ron Kaufman kicker quote.
And just when you thought the Boston Globe couldn't take its Romney coverage to a more absurd length:
After much to-do, Gov. Romney released his mother's statement on abortion from her 1970 run for Senate. Lenore Romney's statement is somewhat semi-enigmatic and could be read into either way. Romney declined to comment on the release. LINK
Brian McGory a Boston Globe columnist, reports that Sen. Ted Kennedy is furious over Republican strategist Charley Manning's column featured in the Globe earlier this month saying that, ''running against Kennedy is one of the best moves a woman or man who wants to be a major figure in Massachusetts politics can make." Interviewed this week Kennedy warns his opponents about political campaigns that "no one should come to it lightly…everything is fair game." LINK
How would the media react if a Republican titan made this kind of not-so-veiled threat?
House of Labor:
From the Change To Win coalition: "The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America announced today that it is joining the Change to Win Coalition, the labor reform movement created on June 15, 2005 by the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Service Employees International Union, UNITE HERE! and the Laborers' International Union of North America."
So the C2W coalition now has 6 million members. That announcement came on the same day as the AFL-CIO executive committee, in a voice vote, overwhelmingly approved the Sweeney's "Winning for Working Families" plan.
We could easily waste your time with our own thoughts, but Jonathan Tasini's are more pithy and, well, he already wrote them down, so, by all means, read them: LINK
A correspondent of ours poses this question:
"I went online to the Department of Labor Web site at LINK and checked LM-2 reports for the past four years and found that from 2000 to 2004, four of the five unions indeed lost members. The food workers lost 42,000, the hotel workers 7,402, UNITE 23,400, and the teamsters 74,000. These aren't disastrous losses, but neither do they recommend any of the unions involved as organizing geniuses. Even the carpenters union, which condemned the AFL-CIO for lack of organizing before abandoning the federation four years ago, lost 10,752 members."
" . . . . Why do these five unions, with a combined net worth of nearly $500,000,000 need to ask the AFL-CIO for rebates in order to spend more on organizing. Specifically, why are the carpenters and UNITE (which now includes the hotel workers) sitting on nearly $200,000,000 each while their membership numbers shrink? Explanations, anyone?"
A senior official for one of the C2W unions responds: "Where are the numbers for the IAM, UAW, Steel, AFSCME? When you look at that side of the ledger you find that most have effectively surrendered on the organizing front and have no new strategy. Wasn't it Leo Gerard who in Las Vegas said that he owes his members an apology for spending $100 million in unsuccessful organizing? The only strategy they seem to have is one to punish any union(s) that leaves by developing a raiding program. Hardly the fight we need to be waging to build worker power. Collectively we have failed. Some of us want to do something about it and our position papers make clear what. While we are changing to win others are not changing at all. . . . . Finally with respect to the question of assets and rebates it is apples and oranges and not relevant. What is relevant is what have the other unions of the AFL-CIO done to demonstrate a capacity and desire to organize and win. C2W unions each have had to meet unique circumstances, UFCW the West Coast strike, the IBT a costly government presence etc. Yet each of us is prepared to commit substantial resources to a new strategic approach to meet the global challenge workers face. Where are the others?":
Washington and politics:
Reports Robert Pear of the New York Times, "Two-thirds of the states use consultants to help them get more federal Medicaid money, often by using 'questionable billing practices,' and then reward those consultants by giving them a share of the money as a contingency fee, Congressional investigators said on Monday." LINK
"The Senate is set to approve a wide-ranging energy bill today as House lawmakers hope to find a middle ground on a fuel-additive provision that has derailed the bill for four years running," Notes Brody Mullins in the Wall Street Journal.
"After two weeks of floor debate, senators are prepared to endorse a package that aims to spur U.S. production of oil, natural gas, coal and renewable energy. In doing so, bill supporters and the Bush administration hope to lower U.S. dependence on oil imports and cut energy prices. But much of the legislation, such as tapping oil and gas reserves in areas now off limits to development, will take as long as a decade to yield results."
"The Senate bill largely tracks legislation that has cleared the chamber twice in previous congresses. But House and Senate negotiators have never been able to merge their versions of the bill in order to send it to the White House. Now, as then, the Senate bill differs in key ways from its House counterpart, which cleared that chamber in April."
ABC News' Jonathan Karl writes in the Weekly Standard how Secretary of State Rice is takin' it to the Saudis. LINK
E.J. Dionne calls the remarks last week by the deputy White House chief of staff "a kinder and gentler form of McCarthyism." LINK
Outside groups are stepping up their pressure on House Speaker Dennis Hastert to end the impasse over the ethics committee, reports Roll Call's John Bresnahan, but Hastert's pushing back and not getting involved (thus far) in the fight between Reps. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Allan Mollohan (D-WV).
Tom Edsall of the Washington Post looks at the Monster crash in the midst of the hiring process by the Department of Homeland Security, which seems to indicate that outsourcing might not always be the best course of action. LINK
"Sen. Trent Lott is considering a return to the GOP leadership -- the culmination of a multiyear effort to rehabilitate his image after being forced to resign his post as majority leader," reports The Hill's Geoff Earle. LINK
"Lott has set his sights on the job of party whip -- the No. 2 job in the GOP leadership — a position expected to be won without opposition by GOP Conference Chairman Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) if Santorum wins reelection."
Sometimes pigs do fly. The New York Post editorial board gives kudos to Sens. Schumer and Clinton on small airport security improvement. LINK
Beyond the beltway:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on Jim Petro's (R-OH) efforts to get ahead of the coin investment scandal enveloping his party as he gears up for his 2006 gubernatorial bid. LINK
AP picks up the new Pew Hispanic Center's analysis of Census data showing that while the Hispanic population grew by 5.7 million between 2000 and 2004, their political clout didn't follow accordingly -- just 2.1 million were eligible to vote, and the number of Hispanic voters grew by 1.4 million. LINK
Spokane, WA Mayor Jim West is appealing the court decision allowing the effort to recall him to go forward. LINK
And slammed his coverage in the Spokesman-Review. LINK
Editor Steve Smith responded. LINK
Our condolonces to the entire family of Marcia Lieberman. LINK
We have fond memories of her on the campaign trail. And judging by what her family has said about her, she blessed the lives of everyone she encountered.