Thanks for stopping by. After a weekend of brats and hot dogs, I am aware that “Gravy” probably doesn’t sound too appetizing.
The political Internet tubes were all aflutter over the weekend with discussion about a vote in Congress to fund the Iraq war without instituting a clear timeline for withdrawal. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday:
After a contentious, three-month battle with the White House over Iraq, congressional Democrats limped out of Washington Friday with their sights trained on July for the next round — but antiwar activists are spoiling for a fight far sooner than that.
The Democratic rank-and-file left for the week-long Memorial Day break with a slate of talking points on Congress’s accomplishments whose top bullet point boasts of “working responsibly to end the war.” In the past 100 days, virtually every Democrat has voted to demand troop withdrawals, and a majority of them effectively voted Thursday night to cut off funds for the war.
But to antiwar groups, the only tally that mattered was Congress’s easy approval of a $120 billion war spending bill that was stripped of timelines for troop withdrawals. A majority of House Democrats may have voted against it, but the Democratic leadership in both chambers facilitated its passage.
“Voters elected this Congress to lead the country out of the mess in Iraq,” said Eli Pariser, executive director of the liberal activist group MoveOn.org Political Action. “We expect great political fallout for all of the representatives — Republican and Democrat — who stood in the way.”
Democratic leaders argue that for the first time Congress had required the Bush administration to track military and political progress in Iraq in 18 prescribed areas and to report back to Congress as soon as July.
Some nonmilitary aid could be jeopardized if the Iraqi government fails to make progress.
The funding bill’s passage “was the start of a whole new direction in Iraq,” declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). “I think that the president’s policy is going to begin to unravel now.”
Ed Perlmutter was the only Colorado congressional member to vote against the measure, which won’t make many liberals very happy.
Governor Bill Ritter ended last week with a flourish, signing a measure to protect homosexuals from discrimination in the workplace. As The Associated Press reports:
Gay people would be protected from being fired based on their sexual orientation under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Bill Ritter.
Lawmakers have passed similar bills in the last two years but they were vetoed by former Gov. Bill Owens.
People who think they were fired because of their sexual orientation would be able to file a lawsuit against the employer.
The measure originally also would have made it illegal to consider someone’s religion in hiring and firing decisions. But lawmakers amended it to allow small religious organizations to give preference to people who support their religious values.
The measure (Senate Bill 25) was one of 16 bills Ritter signed Friday. He also approved a measure (Senate Bill 139) that will allow out-of-town lawmakers who live in Denver during the legislative session to collect about another $6,200 a year in living expenses.
David Yepsen of The Des Moines Register is participating in an online chat at the Rocky Mountain News this morning. Take a look if you’re interested in Presidential posturing in Iowa.
The Bush administration will never be accused of caving to environmental interests. As The Washington Post reports, the United States is again objecting to climate proposals made by members of the G-8:
U.S. officials have raised a second round of unusually bluntly worded objections to a proposed global-warming declaration that Germany prepared for next month’s Group of Eight summit, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
Representatives from the world’s leading industrial nations met the past two days in Heiligendamm, Germany, to negotiate over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposed statement, which calls for limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Bush administration officials, who raised similar objections in April, rejected the idea of setting mandatory emissions targets as well as language calling for G-8 nations to raise overall energy efficiencies by 20 percent by 2020. With less than two weeks remaining, said sources familiar with the talks, the climate document is the only unresolved issue in the statements the world leaders are expected to sign at the June 6-8 summit.
“The U.S. still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement,” a paper dated May 14 states. “The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple ‘red lines’ in terms of what we simply cannot agree to. . . . We have tried to ‘tread lightly’ but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position.”
The most recent draft, dated May 24, shows that the two sides remain at loggerheads. While Germany has offered to alter language identifying a rise in global temperature of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit as a dangerous tipping point and instead to accept a Russian proposal that targets a range from 2.7 to 4.5 degrees, the United States has yet to accept the modified language.
The United States also remains opposed to a statement that reads, “We acknowledge that the U.N. climate process is an appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change.”
Bush administration officials are still adamant that the true cause of global warming be recognized: Gay marriage.
So much for lobbying reform, eh? As Karen Crummy of The Denver Post reports, special interest groups have been throwing money around the State Capitol like Kevin Federline at a do-rag sale:
Despite recent attempts to crack down on state lobbyists, special interest groups have spent a record amount of money to influence legislation this year.
And they appear on the way to spending more money on lobbyists in 2007 than in any other year in Colorado history, according to an analysis of state records.
In the first four months of this year, more than $11 million was shelled out to support, oppose and monitor bills addressing everything from workers’ compensation to property-tax rates to whether to clamp down on smoking in cigar bars. That’s up 14 percent from the same time last year.
Lobbying money has increased every year for 12 years – from $7.6 million in 1995 to $24.6 million in 2006, according to secretary of state records.
Colorado interest groups and the increasing amount of money they spend on lobbyists are part of a national trend. In 2005, 42 states, including Colorado, reported that their lobbyists and the companies that hired them collectively spent $1 billion influencing lawmakers and legislation, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, D.C.
The United States and Iran are talking…about Iraq. As The Washington Post reports:
The United States and Iran held their first official high-level, face-to-face talks in almost 30 years Monday to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, and officials emerged generally upbeat about the renewed dialogue, suggesting additional meetings were likely.
In briefings to reporters afterward, the chief negotiators — U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi — said the talks focused solely on Iraq and did not stray into the contentious areas of Iran’s nuclear program or the recent detentions of four Iranian American citizens by Tehran.
Jason Kosena of The Fort Collins Coloradoan takes a look at Democrat Angie Paccione’s early start in her bid for congress in CD-4:
Angie Paccione isn’t wasting time.
Running against Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, for the 4th Congressional District seat, Paccione sent a letter to supporters Thursday asking for financial donations and kicking off an early fundraising effort for what some expect will be the most expensive race in the district’s history.
“I hate to come to you this early, but that is the price of change,” Paccione wrote in the letter. “I am fully committed to give 100 percent of my time and effort to work harder and smarter to give the people the victory they deserve.”Paccione spent nearly $2 million during the 2006 election cycle, which saw her lose to Musgrave by three percentage points.
Musgrave spent about $3.3 million.
Paccione said she believes 2008 will be the Democrats’ best shot at the congressional seat in 34 years – the last time a Democrat was elected to represent the sprawling district, which includes much of the North Front Range and the state’s Eastern Plains.
“Sometimes it takes two election cycles to unseat an incumbent,” Paccione said Friday. “Current polling shows that 59 percent of people would vote against (Musgrave), so we think the time is now and we’re ready to give voters in the 4th another opportunity to make the change they want happen.”
Have a swell four-day week.