Washington Matters


Developments Not to Be Missed ... Sort of


While you were watching Heath Ledger's swan song as the Joker, cutting your lawn or hanging out at the pool over the weekend, politicians and those who watch them kept grinding on. Here are some developments -- and shenanigans -- you may have missed.

Barack Obama began his tour of the Middle East and Europe with a visit to Afghanistan, concluding that he was right all along in saying the U.S. took its eye off the ball in going into Iraq. He discussed it all in an interview on CBS's Face the Nation.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki endorsed Obama's plan for a 16-month timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal. That seemed to upset John McCain's campaign, which suggested Maliki really agrees with McCain and Maliki then said his comments were mistranslated. The New York Times listened to the tape and did its own translation,  which seems pretty hard to refute.  You can check out the context and decide for yourself by checking the text.

Political analyst Stu Rothenberg has updated his forecasts for this year's 11 races for governor. He sees little change from the Democrat's 28-22 advantage. Democrats could add one by winning the open seat in Missouri, which he rates a toss-up. But one Democratic incumbent -- Washington's Christine Gregoire -- also has a fight on her hand, according to a new poll from SurveyUSA.

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Hillary Clinton purchased a web site name for 2012 -- HRC2012. It could be for her Senate re-election, but the purchase came in June, one day after she endorsed Obama. Hard to believe her mind was on a Senate race still four years away. 

A new poll from Pew Research suggests women are getting over their disappointment about Hillary's loss and getting behind Obama's candidacy.

More good polling news for Obama from New Hampshire, widely considered a toss-up in November. Two new polls show Obama ahead by more than 10 points. A Zogby Internet poll shows a closer race, with Libertarian Bob Barr drawing 10 percent, but Internet polls are notoriously unreliable.

With deadlines approaching, congressional officials have eased the new and tougher (still?) rules on lobbying disclosures, Congressional Quarterly reports. Take a look and see if you think they are rollback or if, as the Democrats describe them, the type of reasonable revisions required as real-life situations come up.

The Nevada Republican Party canceled its convention and decided to hold a conference call instead. The party cited a lack of interest among Republicans in the state. It voted twice for Bush -- but by narrow margins and Obama hopes to move the state into the Democratic column this November.

And the Environmental Protection Agency has lowered its estimate of what a life is worth -- from $8 million to $7.2 million. That will make it easier to argue that some pollution reduction measures aren't worth the cost of saving a limited number of lives. The EPA says it switched to a better method of valuing a life's worth. I guess the agency hasn't heard about inflation.



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