I feel guilty for not keeping closer tabs on the immigration-bill talks up on Capitol Hill. But whenever I try to catch up I encounter passages like this one: Senate GOP Conference Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.), an opponent of last year's bill turned White House ally in the negotiations, tamped down talk of a filibuster on the motion to proceed to placeholder legislation - provided that it would be only a stand-in for a complete agreement that has yet to emerge. Sigh.
It's true, as Mike points out, both Obama and Bush are proposing similar-sounding CAFE increases. The main difference, I think, is that the White House has given every indication that it intends to be much more, um, "flexible" about things. Here's a telling caveat from the president's State of the Union address, which estimated that his CAFE plan would reduce gasoline consumption by 8.5 billion gallons in 2017: These amounts are based on an assumption that on average, fuel efficiency standards for both light trucks and passenger cars are increased 4 percent per year....
Dems seem to be mulling over two funding options for Iraq. They could send the White House a short-term, string-free bill that forces the president to come back in a few months for more money (at which point they might have enough votes for a timetable). Or they could pass a full funding bill that doesn't set deadlines, but does contain "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government and readiness standards for the troops. Greg Sargent runs down the pros and cons of each option with a House Democratic aide. Worth reading, though I'm not sure I quite understand the downsides of the short-term bill.
Ramesh Ponnuru says I'm being unfair and that the White House opposes the hate-crimes bill because of concerns over federalism, not because the bill would add sexual orientation to the list of protected categories. That might well be true. In the past, people like Barney Frank have claimed that the GOP leadership scuttled versions of the bill mainly because they included protections for gays and lesbians, but hey, it's possible that Frank's wrong and they really were doing so out of a principled concern for federalism.
Yesterday, on the anniversary of George W. Bush landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino ripped Democrats for a "trumped-up political stunt." How very rich. Actually, Perino's press gaggle yesterday makes for entertaining reading. Here's an excerpt: Q Is there any, shall we say, reluctance on the President's part to actually go through the veto today, being that it's the fourth anniversary of the "mission accomplished" banner, his speech -- MS.
Has George W. Bush ever visited the "White House for Kids" Freedom Timeline vocabulary page? Here's the very first entry: diplomacy n 1: Negotiation between nations 2: Tact and skill in dealing with people. 3: Wisdom in the management of public affairs I'm guessing not. --Michael Crowley
by Richard Stern A bit too much beef on George Tenet. A bit too much of everything, gestures, words, passion, too many professions of devotion to the wonderful men and women of CIA, to his own unremitting labor, his day-and-night brooding about al Qaeda. How this beefy, expressive gentleman has worried about what more he could have done, how prevented 9/11, how capture bin Laden and Zawahiri. God knows he tried: He put the warning of imminent, bloody al Qaeda deeds into Condi Rice's hands weeks and weeks before 9/11, and what did she do but turn it over not to the president but to her deputy?
Timothy Noah points out that former USAID director Randall Tobias is a hypocrite for cavorting with call girls, seeing as how he oversaw USAID's policy of refusing AIDS funding to any group that didn't sign an anti-prostitution loyalty oath. That's an amusing bit of irony, but now seems like a good time to note that the policy really isn't very funny at all. When Congress first told USAID to make all its recipients sign the pledge, in 2003, lawyers at the Justice Department argued that the policy violated the First Amendment and should be ignored.
Sunday's Times reported that Saudi Prince Bandar, then the country's notorious ambassador to the US, simply gave a Jaguar to Colin Powell days after his 2005 resignation as Secretary of State. A incredulous Josh Marshall asks how often this sort of thing happens. From Bob Woodward's State of Denial, here's another instance of Bandar's generosity: When Michael Deaver, one of President Reagan's top White House aides, left the White House to become a lobbyist, First Lady Nancy Reagan, another close Bandar friend, called and asked him to help Deaver.
NYT: If lawmakers remain in Baghdad, said one senior American official who did not want to be identified because he was discussing internal White House deliberations, "we'll have some outputs then." He added, "That's different from having outcomes," drawing a distinction between a sign of activity and a sign of success, which could take considerably longer. --Michael Crowley