Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Political Hot Topics
LAWMAKERS RILED UP OVER JEFFERSON RAID: The FBI's raid on a congressman's office is rippling through Capitol Hill, with majority Republicans in the House complaining to President Bush and predicting a constitutional showdown in the Supreme Court. Lawmakers predict this may be the beginning a long dispute over the FBI's search of Rep. William Jefferson's office last weekend. Historians say it was the first raid of a representative's quarters in Congress' 219 years. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was so angry that he complained to Bush about the FBI's conduct. "My opinion is that they took the wrong path," Hastert said of the FBI, after meeting with Bush in the White House. "They need to back up, and we need to go from there." AP via Yahoo! News: Speaker Hastert protests to Bush over raid

VETERANS AFFAIRS WAITED 2 WEEKS BEFORE REPORTING DATA THEFT: The Veterans Affairs Department learned about the theft of electronic data on 26.5 million veterans shortly after it occurred, on May 3, but waited two weeks before telling law enforcement agencies, officials said Tuesday. The officials said investigators in the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were furious with the leaders of the veterans agency for initially trying to handle the loss of the data as an internal problem through the agency's inspector general before coming forward. Officials said the investigators in the Justice Department and F.B.I. had complained that the delay might have cost them clues to the whereabouts of the data, stored on computer disks that were stolen in a burglary on May 3 at the home of an agency employee in Maryland. New York Times: Agency Delayed Reporting Theft of Veterans' Data

BUSH OFFERS "QUALIFIED" ENDORSEMENT OF WEST BANK WITHDRAWAL: President Bush yesterday embraced Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's strategy of withdrawing from isolated Jewish settlements on the West Bank and unilaterally imposing final borders over Palestinian objections if he cannot negotiate a peace plan with their leaders. Welcoming Olmert to the White House for the first time since his election eight weeks ago, Bush reserved judgment on the specifics of any "realignment" plan but called the concepts "bold ideas" and expressed satisfaction that the new Israeli leader would first make a serious attempt to craft an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Washington Post: Israel Has 'Bold Ideas,' Bush Says

LIFE IN BAGHDAD: Three years after the U.S. invasion, during which most of the Iraqi capital's infrastructure collapsed, rudimentary services here remain sporadic at best. Decades-old water treatment plants that were supposed to have been fixed during postwar reconstruction meet only 60 percent of Baghdad's needs, said Lt. Col. Chris Hall, whose unit, attached to the 101st Airborne Division, is helping Iraqis rebuild power and water facilities. Garbage chokes the city of 4.5 million people. Trash collection is erratic or nonexistent, depending on which part of the city you live in... Garbage clogs sewage pipes, causing raw sewage to overflow into the streets and fill the air with the stench of decay. In the Shiite slums of Sadr City in northeastern Baghdad, residents live in dwellings made of bits of corrugated metal, chunks of concrete and rusted oil canisters. Snowy white egrets skim the surface of putrid, greenish-black pools of sewage in the streets. San Francisco Chronicle: Violence aside, Baghdad is broken

HAYDEN GETS INTEL PANEL APPROVAL: Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden won a bipartisan endorsement from the Senate intelligence committee yesterday to head the CIA at a time of reorganization and troubled morale, and legislative leaders said they hope to have the full Senate confirm him for the job by Thursday. The panel voted 12 to 3 to recommend that Hayden, a four-star general with substantial experience in electronic surveillance, succeed Porter J. Goss, who leaves the CIA post on Friday after 18 stormy months. Hayden won the backing of the committee's eight Republicans and four of seven Democrats. Voting against him were Democrats Evan Bayh (Ind.), Russell Feingold (Wis.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.). Washington Post: Intelligence Panel Backs Hayden as CIA Director

SENATE COULD PASS IMMIGRATION BILL TODAY: The Senate is expected to approve as early as today the most significant and wide-ranging immigration reform legislation in two decades. The bill would grant citizenship rights to an estimated 10 million illegal aliens currently in the country and allow them to collect Social Security benefits for work they performed while illegally employed in the U.S. The bill also grants complete amnesty to employers who have drawn the estimated 12 million aliens to the U.S. by illegally providing them with jobs. In addition, an estimated 2 million new foreigners will be admitted to the country annually under the bill, more than doubling the current flow of legal immigration. Washington Times: Senate likely to pass bill on aliens

HOUSE CONTINUES TO RESIST AMNESTY: House Republican leaders Tuesday resisted the latest White House effort to move beyond the enforcement-only approach they have taken in rewriting immigration laws, emerging from a meeting with President Bush emphasizing their continued opposition to the broader approach the Senate is taking. "The basic difference of opinion that we have seen on this issue between the House and Senate and the White House is real, it is honest, and it was exhibited at this meeting," House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said. His comments came as the Senate worked toward a final vote - expected Thursday - on its immigration bill. The remarks underscored that the divide between the two chambers would be difficult for legislators to bridge. Los Angeles Times: House GOP Not Budging on Border

FOX KNOCKS BORDER FENCE IN UTAH VISIT: Mexican President Vicente Fox was silent on the volatile issue of immigration when speaking to Utah business and political leaders. However, he broached the topic Tuesday to hundreds of Mexican-Americans, saying cooperation and not "fences" will best settle differences. "We don't set up walls," Fox said in Spanish, with English interpretation, at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. "It is not with fences we are going to solve this problem, but hand-in-hand... We are neighbors, we are friends, and we are partners." Salt Lake Deseret News: Fox targets 'walls'

FCC WON'T INVESTIGATE NSA: The Federal Communications Commission declined Tuesday to investigate whether a spy agency has access to millions of Americans' telephone records. It cited the secrecy of the National Security Agency. The decision drew a call for congressional hearings from a Democratic congressman who had requested a probe. "The FCC has abdicated its responsibility to protect Americans' privacy to the National Security Agency without even asking a single question about it," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said. Markey had asked the regulatory panel to look into a report in USA TODAY that the NSA has been secretly collecting the phone call records with the help of telecommunications companies. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wrote Markey that "the classified nature of the NSA's activities make us unable to investigate the alleged violations" of privacy. USA Today: NSA secrecy makes investigation impossible, FCC says

BERNANKE CALLS MONEY HONEY COMMENTS "LAPSE OF JUDGMENT": Ben S. Bernanke, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, is likely to be a lot less interesting at dinner parties from now on. On Tuesday, not quite four months after taking over at the Fed, Mr. Bernanke publicly admitted to a "lapse of judgment" in earlier telling a television reporter at a banquet here that investors had "misunderstood" him. Mr. Bernanke's remarks to Maria Bartiromo of the financial news channel CNBC, made at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, April 29, touched off a brief furor among stock market traders when Ms. Bartiromo reported the conversation as an important disclosure the following Monday. New York Times: Fed Chief Swears Off Improvising

LOTT KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN ON WHIP, LEADER BIDS: Senator Trent Lott keeps a dog-eared piece of paper in his pocket showing which senators supported his proposal to spend $700 million to move a railroad line in his home state of Mississippi, and which opposed him. Lott keeps the paper so he can "pull it out and remind people who voted with me and who didn't," he said. A former Senate majority leader, Lott, 64, has never stopped keeping score as he eyes a possible return to the Republican leadership after the November elections. Lott said he might run for whip, the No. 2 job, if Mitch McConnell of Kentucky moves up to replace retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist and the No. 3 Republican, Rick Santorum, loses his tight re-election race. Lott doesn't rule out a bid for the top spot if Republicans lose so many seats in November that the caucus demands leadership changes and resists promoting McConnell. Bloomberg News: Lott Prepares for a Possible Return to Senate Leadership Role

CARTER, MONDALE HAVE LIVED LONGEST SINCE LEAVING OFFICE: Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale have surpassed John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as the president and vice president who have lived the longest since leaving office. As of Tuesday, Carter and Mondale had lived 25 years and 123 days since leaving the White House in 1981. That's a day longer than Adams and Jefferson, who both died July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. More important than their longevity, some observers contend, is the legacy of productivity the pair have crafted. AP via Yahoo! News: Carter, Mondale surpass Adams, Jefferson

DODD'S RUN ALL ABOUT THE $$$: Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd said Tuesday that his ability to raise millions for a White House bid would be a deciding factor in whether he pursues the party's presidential nomination. The five-term Connecticut senator said he is optimistic that he can garner enough money and support to be a credible candidate, although he won't decide on a presidential run until early next year. High-profile Democrats such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee, have several times more than the roughly $2 million Dodd has in campaign cash. AP via Yahoo! News: Conn. senator says run depends on money

OTTER WINS GOP GOV PRIMARY IN "REDDEST OF THE RED STATES": C.L. "Butch" Otter and Jerry Brady will face each other in the fall to replace Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. Brady and his wife had traveled to Idaho Falls to vote Tuesday, but were back in Boise by evening to celebrate with other Democrats Downtown. Otter was in Washington, D.C., where Congress is in session. He spoke to the Republicans gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel Riverside over the phone. Idaho is the "reddest of the red states," he said "and we're going to stay just that way." Brady didn't wait to start drawing comparisons between the two candidates. "Oh, yeah, this has been a long wait - I'm really eager to get on with the main event," he said. "This is a great way to start. He's in Washington and I'm here, hooray." Idaho Statesman: Otter, Brady to compete for vacant governor's seat

SCARY MOMENT FOR SC LT GOV: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and a friend survived a fiery plane crash just after takeoff Tuesday evening from a dirt airstrip in a rural area near the town of Blacksburg in Cherokee County. Azalia Leonhardt, the wife of John M. Leonhardt Sr., of Columbia, said Bauer was piloting the plane and her husband was the co-pilot... She said Leonhardt told her the plane's engine seemed to cut off as the plane took off. She said Bauer was taking off from a dirt airstrip on private property that the two had flown from before... Bauer's political consultant and adviser, Rod Shealy of Lexington County, said he spoke with Bauer's sister and an agent with the State Law Enforcement Division who said Bauer should recover fully. Shealy said Bauer has injuries to his head, for which he received stitches, and a broken ankle. Columbia State: Bauer's plane crashes

MY SUPER SWEET SENATE INTERNSHIP: Like, ohmigod! Guess who's soooo interning in the office of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)? Jacqueline Barkett, a star from "My Super Sweet 16," the MTV show about spoiled, rich teenage girls whose parents throw them outrageously extravagant birthday bashes and coming-of-age parties. We were tipped off to Reid's reality-show intern by a posting on craigslist.com, which said, "One of these former Paris Hilton wannabes is now working [in] the Senate. Her name is Jacqueline and she is a lonely intern who landed the job thanks again to daddy." Seems true enough. Daddy, aka William Barkett, is an investment banking executive in La Jolla, Calif., who has given generously to Democratic campaign committees, including $41,700 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2005 and 2006. Roll Call: MTV Star-Turned-Reid Intern
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 5/24/2006 09:59:00 AM ET | Permalink
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