Thursday, July 06, 2006
Political Hot Topics
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE: ...Bush's birthday party Tuesday was a low-key affair -- a buffet dinner of fried chicken, Cajun shrimp, potato salad and roasted corn, plus an oversize three-tiered chocolate cake. His actual birthday today will be business as usual. Bush will meet with the prime minister of Canada, then fly to Chicago, where the most powerful Baby Boomer (and Republican) in America will spend the evening he turns 60 having dinner with civic leaders and Mayor Richard Daley -- a Democrat. New York Times: A Touchy Topic: Boomer in Chief Hits the Big 6-0

NORTH KOREA THREATENS TO TEST MORE MISSILES: A defiant North Korea on Thursday threatened to test-fire more missiles and warned of even stronger action if opponents of the tests put pressure on the country, amid signs of further activity at the reclusive regime's launch sites. The further show of bravado by Pyongyang came amid intense diplomatic jockeying by the United States and its allies to prod the U.N. Security Council to take stern action against the North's seven missile tests Wednesday. In its first statement on the launches, North Korea's Foreign Ministry insisted the communist state had the right to test its missiles and argued the weapons were needed for defense. AP via Yahoo! News: U.S. dismisses N. Korea's 'wild' threats

CLOSED CASINOS COSTING MILLIONS FOR NJ: New Jersey's unprecedented government shutdown extended yesterday to Atlantic City's casinos, one of the most visible and lucrative casualties of the budget impasse between Gov. Jon Corzine and his fellow Democrats. The 12 casinos, which generate $1.3 million in revenue for the state each day and power the city's economy, officially went dark at 8 a.m., leading to an exodus of irritated gamblers and the furlough of some 20,000 casino workers, from pit bosses to busboys. New Jersey's two horse-racing tracks also were shuttered, along with state parks, beaches and historic sites. The state health commissioner warned that if the budget deadlock continued into next week, it would imperil funding for a prescription drug program that aids 190,000 senior citizens and disabled people. Newark Star-Ledger: In shutdown, all bets are off

"SAD DAY" FOR THE DONALD: Casino mogul Donald Trump yesterday called it "a sad day indeed" and said "Las Vegas is laughing" at New Jersey after Atlantic City's 12 casinos closed shop because of the budget crisis. "Nobody thought a thing like this would happen," said Trump, whose three eponymous Atlantic City casinos - the Taj Mahal, the Marina and the Plaza - stopped taking bets along with the other gambling halls at 8 a.m. yesterday. "I'm in Los Angeles now... and the biggest story out here is that the Atlantic City casinos closed," Trump told The Post. "I think it's a sad day for Atlantic City." New York Post: Trump: You Bet I'm Sad

HOW HASTERT MADE MILLIONS: During his long career in public service, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune through real estate holdings that belies the humble image of a former small-town high school wrestling coach. He lives on a 127-acre homestead near Plano that includes farmland, a pond and woods, situated along a creek and adjacent to a private forest preserve. Based on the price Hastert received for a sale of adjoining undeveloped farmland in December, his land alone is now valued at more than $4.5 million. In all, Hastert's net worth has soared from no more than $290,000 to more than $6 million during his 19-year tenure on Capitol Hill that has seen him rise from the back benches of Congress to speaker of the House. Chicago Tribune: Hastert's wealth is grounded in land

FEC NAMES PERMANENT STAFF DIRECTOR: After a shake-up spurred on by a sexual harassment lawsuit involving top officials of the Federal Election Commission, the agency has hired a new permanent staff director. Patrina Clark, formerly the regional executive director for the Naval District Washington, will begin her new job July 10. Clark will replace Robert Costa, who had been serving as both acting staff director and the agency's top audit officer since October 2005. That's when the former staff director, Jim Pehrkon, was placed on leave and the FBI began investigating whether he and other former agency officials tried to settle a sexual harassment complaint by attempting to embezzle $100,000. Roll Call: FEC Names New Staff Director

COPELAND LOWERY'S "INADVERTENT" ERROR? A Washington lobbying firm at the center of a federal corruption probe failed to disclose at least $755,000 in income from 17 nonprofit organizations and governmental entities, and $635,000 from 18 other clients between 1998 and 2005, according to the firm's recently amended filings with the clerk of the House. Lawyers for the Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White firm say that the errors were inadvertent. But some experts have called them unusual and suggested that Copeland Lowery might have been trying to play down how much money it was paid by those who received federal grants the firm arranged, particularly the clients who paid its lobbying fees with tax-exempt or public funds. Washington Post: Lobbying Firm Underreported Income

PROMINENT BEANTOWNERS TAKE ON MITT: Taking on Governor Mitt Romney and the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, 165 prominent business and civic leaders are publicly calling for the Legislature to reject a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The group, which includes leading bankers, healthcare executives, lawyers, and leaders of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, has purchased an ad in The Boston Globe that says the amendment would "take away rights." It urges lawmakers to"`move on to other important issues like strengthening the economy, improving our schools, and protecting our neighborhoods." The signers include Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his wife, Myra; real estate developer Robert Beal; Mayor Thomas M. Menino; chamber president Paul Guzzi, and more than 20 members of the chamber's board of directors; architect Graham Gund; author Robert B. Parker; venture capitalist Richard M. Burnes Jr.; Boston Foundation president Paul S. Grogan; and Stacey Lucchino, who is married to Red Sox chief executive Larry Lucchino. Boston Globe: Leaders oppose bid to ban gay marriage

FOR MCCAIN, GOP NOMINATION IS "HIS TO LOSE": Some top Republicans at odds with Sen. John McCain on core conservative issues say privately that the party's 2008 presidential nomination is "his to lose." They cite the Arizona senator's head start in fundraising, a primary calendar that is shaping up in his favor and a growing belief that he enjoys the tacit support of President Bush. In state after state, Mr. McCain has been passing out money to Republican candidates for other offices, to state party organizations and even to Republican county chairmen. Extending such largess to the county level is unheard of in pre-nomination campaign maneuvering, party officials say. Now, one of the most widely respected conservatives in the country says he is ready to help pull the McCain campaign bandwagon whenever the senator makes his 2008 Republican presidential run official. Washington Times: McCain sitting pretty for 2008 race

WHAT BACKING LAMONT MEANS FOR HILLARY: Leading Democrats in the Senate - including Senator Charles E. Schumer, the head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts - are also planning to back [Lieberman's] challenger, Ned Lamont, if he defeats Mr. Lieberman in the primary next month, their advisers said yesterday. But for Mrs. Clinton, the announcement had a special tactical significance. It allowed her to signal to her party's liberal base that she is not in lockstep with Mr. Lieberman in defending the war in Iraq, without actually changing her own position that her vote in 2002 to authorize the war was justified by what she knew then. New York Times: Clinton Moves a Bit From Lieberman, and the War

BIDEN, BOXER, AND SALAZAR TO CAMPAIGN FOR JOE: Embattled Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman is getting a little help from his Senate friends as he tries to fend off an anti-Iraq war challenger in an intraparty fight. Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Barbara Boxer of California and Ken Salazar of Colorado plan to campaign in Connecticut for Lieberman between now and the Aug. 8 primary. Their goal is to reassure the party faithful of the three-term senator's loyalty to Democratic causes, including women's issues, labor and the environment. AP via Yahoo! News: Senate colleagues to help Lieberman

BLOOMBERG'S GOT HIS BACK: Veering sharply from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday he would support Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman if he loses in the Democratic primary and runs as an independent. "I don't agree with Sen. Lieberman on everything, but what this country needs are people who have their beliefs and go out and overlook partisan politics and express their views," Bloomberg said in Philadelphia. "We need more people like Joe Lieberman to be out there, even if they're people that we don't necessarily happen to agree with. New York Post: A Boost for "Indy" Joe

LAMONT READY TO SPEND $1 MILLION OF HIS OWN MONEY: Businessman Ned Lamont said Wednesday that he is prepared to dump more of his own money, perhaps $1 million more, into his Democratic primary battle against U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. Lamont, a Greenwich multimillionaire who founded a cable television company, wouldn't say how much he plans to spend between now and the Aug. 8 primary. His campaign has cost $1.5 million so far. "It depends. Let's see what happens over the course of the next 30 days," Lamont told The Associated Press. "If the senator says, 'I'm going to put up a million dollars on TV and start hammering Ned Lamont and where he's from,' then I'll have to match that." AP via Yahoo! News: Lamont prepared to spend vs. Lieberman

WHITE CANDIDATE FACES HURDLES IN BROOKLYN: David Yassky has a solid résumé, lots of campaign cash and plenty of ideas for improving the slice of Brooklyn he wants to represent in Congress. In another Democratic stronghold, he might be the runaway favorite. But in New York's 11th District, Yassky's candidacy has touched off a controversy about race and turned a sleepy primary contest into an emotionally charged debate over minority political representation. The 11th District is one of the dozens of majority-black seats created in the aftermath of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. And Yassky, unlike his three primary opponents, is white. The City Council member's bid has not been well received by the district's black establishment. Washington Post: Candidacy Fosters A Debate On Race

BRENNER DROPS NY SENATE BID: A Republican long shot vying to challenge U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton quit the race Wednesday, leaving two front-runners to battle over the party's nomination. William Brenner, a tax attorney, said collecting the 15,000 signatures needed to make the Sept. 12 primary ballot was too expensive and daunting, given his business responsibilities. "However, we have two good Republican candidates," Brenner said in an interview with The Associated Press. Polls have shown a tight race developing between former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland. Clinton is far ahead of either potential competitor in those polls. AP via Yahoo! News: Long shot Republican ends Senate race
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 7/06/2006 09:28:00 AM ET | Permalink
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