Monday, May 09, 2005

Pete Is Ready To Go "Nuclear," The Veep's Closed Doors, Plus: Pearce's Copycat Staffer, And: More APD Angst; It's Your Big Monday Blog 

Nuclear Option
Despite pleas to make the peace, Pete is ready to go nuclear. That's the inside word as the U.S. Senate inches closer to a showdown over whether to lower the number of votes from 60 to 50 needed to get Bush's controversial federal appellate judge picks in place. A senior GOP Alligator at the ABQ Old Town Thursday lunch for VP Cheney where Pete was in attendance has the inside scoop: "During his talk, Pete thanked Cheney for being ready, if necessary, to cast the deciding vote to end Democrat filibusters over judges. It was clear that the senator will be voting for the "nuclear option" if it comes to that, informed our source.

It's called the nuclear option because if the majority GOP makes it just 50 votes to end a filibuster, it would be a radical change to the rule of the senate and unleash all kinds of consequences.

Domenici and other "moderate" R's have been getting pressure to tell their brethren to back off. Here's an example in the Capitol hill newspaper "Roll Call" from political junkie Norm Ornstein:

"The fate of the Senate now rests in the hands of a handful of Republicans who have been great figures of the Senate,
each will be judged by history on their choice in this matter. They include Pete Domenici of New Mexico.

Through most of his 32 years in the body, Domenici has fulfilled...promise of being an institutionalist. But now comes the real test.

The Senate is on the verge of meltdown over the nuclear option, an unprecedented step that would shatter 200 years of precedent over rules changes and open up a Pandora's box of problems..." opines Ornstein.

But judging from our insider's report, Pete is ready to let the nuclear trigger be squeezed, If it comes to that. Stay tuned.

Maybe I'm an old school, but I don't remember the Prez or VP coming to NM and having no contact with the general public or press. But so it was at that Cheney lunch for ABQ GOP Rep. Heather Wilson at which over $200 grand was raised for her campaign kitty. Thanks to my on scene Alligators, I can report that the speeches were rather boring, with Cheney starting off with Social Security and then riffing on national security and terrorism.

But Domenici's statement was real "news" because of the tension back in D.C. There should be at least a pool reporter allowed at these events, and there should be protests from the media if there isn't. Oh, I forgot. We're at "war" and we do this in the name of "security." If you did not cough up the $1000 for the lunch, here's the meal you missed: salad, pork roast, squash medley and dessert of cheesecake with cherries and caramel sauce. No booze at the event.


I received a number of responses to my plea for help to determine what discretion, if any, a judge might have if a group of citizens petitioned for a grand jury investigation into the ABQ police department evidence room scandal. I had speculated that he might have some and it turns out I am probably correct. First, the law:

"... a grand jury shall be ordered to convene by such judge upon the filing of a petition...signed by not less than the greater of two hundred registered voters or two percent of the registered voters of the county."

Yes, the petitions mandate a grand jury, but a legal beagle with experience at the district attorney level, tells me the petition language must be specific and ask for something in the jurisdiction of the court. "It just can't be a broad brush statement. There has to be a specific probe requested," our beagle reports. So, it seems if citizens did craft a narrow and specific petition for a grand jury for the APD evidence room affair they could get one. How come no one has?


Let's go back to D.C and that plagiarism scandal out of GOP Rep. Steve Pearce's office. His press secretary Jim Burns copied portions of a think-tank article and passed it off in NM as original Pearce thinking. Burns is 52 and has been around the block. What was he thinking? As a former Hill press secretary myself (early 80's, Rep. Manuel Lujan) I don't have much sympathy. All Burns had to do was rewrite the relevant sections in Pearce's style and tone.

Some commentators are closing ranks behind him, but from this corner the U.S. Congress and its constituents deserve better. There are plenty of other jobs for the wayward press secretary, but they should not be on Capitol Hill. As for Pearce, this is his third press secretary in the last year or so. Time to tighten things up.


Around here, we never plagiarize, we just mangle the English language. The latest example is when I referred to the critics of Sen. Bingaman who called him "disinterested" in the job. How about "uninterested" write my critics...And did I say "empanel" a grand jury last week when I should have said "impanel?" Guilty again, but constantly repenting .

Thanks for tuning in today. Let's get together again tomorrow for more from the wonderful world of La Politica.

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