** WHILE BUSH COOLS HIS HEELS, NEW SENATE LEADERS MOVE. SORT OF. While President George W. Bush waits around for a day, he hopes, in Jordan, for his postponed summit with our man in Iraq, incoming leaders of the U.S. Senate are pushing for a new move in the strife-torn country. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, incoming Senate Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller, and incoming Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin want Bush to appoint a special envoy to Iraq. His or her charge? To work with the various factions in the country to gain a ceasefire and a broad-based political settlement.
** President George W. Bush’s scheduled summit today in Jordan with the Iraqi prime minister has just been delayed until tomorrow. Pro-Shiite militia forces have threatened to pull their members out of the country’s parliament, possibly bringing the government down, if the Bush summit went forward.
** OBAMA GETS RELIGION. Rising Democratic superstar and presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) is courting evangelicals. He is slated to appear Friday at one of the biggest evangelical churches in the country, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, a community in Califonria’s Orange County. Pastor Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” is said to draw 20,000 people to weekly sermons there.
Obama and Warren have apparently struck up a seemingly unlikely friendship. The senator’s appearance at Warren’s big evangelical church is part of a two-day summit on the global AIDS crisis scheduled to include U2′s Bono and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. But anti-abortion forces are striking back against Obama’s appearance, since Obama is pro-choice.
** A PREVIEW OF THE POST-IRAQ TERROR WAR. Next week’s Senate hearings on the confirmation of Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates are likely to provide an early preview of what America’s post-Iraq moves will be in the War on Terror. Gates, a former CIA director under Bush I, will, sources say, be questioned extensively about his ideas on prosecuting the Terror War aside from Iraq, where the US position has dramatically deteriorated.
** FRIST OUT OF PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is also out of the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. The good doctor is expected to make an announcement later today.
** SUPREMES HEAT UP. Oral arguments take place today before the U.S. Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. The state argues that the EPA should be regulating greenhouse gases. The Bush Administration EPA argues it does not have the authority. A read of the Clean Air Act indicates that the Bush EPA are wrong. California and other states have joined in the suit, which will not be decided until next spring at the earliest.
Depending on how it goes, and how it is cut, the decision could strengthen or impede California’s leading edge movest to cut greenhouse gas emissions. There is a separate but related case going currently. Automakers have filed suit against California’s 2002 law to cut tailpipe emissions. The case will be heard next January in Fresno.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are around $62 per barrel.