First, the House last night passed a campaign-finance package last night on a strict 218-209 party-line vote:
The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.
Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.
I have a dream that someday, the House of Representatives will represent me. I have another dream involving Angelina Jolie. Which dream do you suppose is more likely to come true?
In other news, the best administration we have (as Molly Ivins likes to say) is once again muzzling climate scientists who dare say there is a link between human activity and climate change. This seems to be because there is a link between human activity and climate change, a link the administration's policies are reinforcing:
Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.
Because if no one talks about it, it isn't really happening, even as the Republic of Kiribati disappears beneath the Pacific...
Experts say the Enron executives' testimony is extremely risky for the pair.
They will have to overcome the obvious conclusion that they knew they were robbing hundreds of employees and thousands of investors before company collapsed. Stay tuned.
Former House majority leader Tom DeLay is not seeking re-election. This is the best political news I've heard in days.
I'm going to bed as happy as I can be back in Nashua.
Krugman weighs in (sub.req.) on the immigration debate roiling the GOP:
For now, at least, the immigration issue is mainly hurting the Republican Party, which is divided between those who want to expel immigrants and those who want to exploit them. The only thing the two factions seem to have in common is mean-spiritedness.
One final quick hit for the morning: I completely forgot that yesterday was the 25th (25rd?) anniversary of President Reagan's attempted assassination. It's hard to grasp that it was that long ago.
It was a full day for the GOP yesterday. First, the National Republican Campaign Committee admitted, after receiving a $2,000 contribution from Duke Cunningham's expiring campaign fund, that they have no "standard practice for dealing with donations from convicted former lawmakers." Also yesterday, Jack Abramoff's defense team called him "a selfless patriot," with character references from 130 Republican lawmakers, some of whom called him, with total lack of irony, "generous."
They finished by killing a measure in the Senate to strengthen ethics enforcement:
On a 67 to 30 vote, the Senate defeated a bipartisan proposal to create an office of public integrity, which its backers said was designed to strengthen enforcement of Senate rules and bolster voters' trust in Congress in the aftermath of the guilty plea in January of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
For the record, my senators (Durbin and Obama, both D-IL) voted for the bill. I'm curious why Clinton (D-NY), Feinstein (D-CA), Boxer (D-CA), and Murray (D-WA) voted against it.
I'm also surprised McCain (R-AZ) voted for it, since he's showing himself to be farther right than Cheney lately; but I suppose it's possible to be an ethical radical right-winger:
American military hero and Arizona Sen. John McCain will deliver the Commencement message at Liberty University on May 13, at 9:30 a.m., in the Liberty University Vines Center. In addition, renowned Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer will speak during the University’s baccalaureate service on May 12, at 7:00 p.m., in the main sanctuary of the Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Didn't he once call Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty University, an "agent of intolerance?"
Finally, if you have extra time today, read Jimmy Carter's op-ed in the Washington Post:
During the past five years the United States has abandoned many of the nuclear arms control agreements negotiated since the administration of Dwight Eisenhower. This change in policies has sent uncertain signals to other countries, including North Korea and Iran, and may encourage technologically capable nations to choose the nuclear option. The proposed nuclear deal with India is just one more step in opening a Pandora's box of nuclear proliferation.
It occurs to me that President Carter is still eligible to serve another term...
Well, this is interesting. MSNBC is reporting this hour that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card has resigned, to be repleced by Budget Director Josh Bolten.
By Joyce Appleby and Gary Hart.
Joyce Appleby is professor emerita of history at UCLA and co-director of the History News Service. Gary Hart is a former U.S. senator and Wirth Chair in the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver.
From today's Washington Post:
Sewage Tested for Signs of Cocaine
Fairfax Participating In Federal Program To Assess Drug Use
Earlier this month, [Fairfax County, Va.,] agreed to participate in a White House pilot program to analyze wastewater from communities throughout the Potomac River Basin for the urinary byproducts of cocaine.
No, uh, kidding.
This time the appointee was NASA Inspector General Robert "Moose" Cobb, refusing to allow further investigation of a 5 June 2002 incident in which the Shuttle Endeavour launched despite a "no-go" from both Air Force safety officers:
Two range officials—the mission flight-control officer and the chief of safety—are responsible for determining whether the command-destruct system is working and the public is protected. During the final poll before liftoff, both responded "no go" because of the system's problems.
[Brig. Gen. Donald] Pettit overruled them, however, and declared the range green "with little if any discussion," according to the briefing document drafted by investigators. Shuttle managers launched Endeavour without ever knowing of the safety officers' actions.
No one interviewed by investigators, or by the Orlando Sentinel, was aware of another example in the history of U.S. human spaceflight in which the range's top two safety officials were "no go" and the range commander overruled them.
But wait! There's more:
Cobb, a White House political appointee, is under investigation by an administration integrity committee after being accused of repeatedly quashing cases and retaliating against those who resisted.
Let's see...groupthink, suppression of dissent, bad decision-making, and a total inability to accept responsibility for dangerous choices. Yep, that's a Bush guy.