John McCaslin

The Democratic Party is having a difficult time recruiting a recognizable cast of characters to help retake control of the Senate. The latest to say "no, thanks" is former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who didn't let several months of courting from the Democratic National Committee sway him into seeking Georgia's open seat.

Other familiar faces ruling out senatorial bids in recent weeks are former Clinton Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman in Kansas, former Democratic presidential aspirant Gary Hart in Colorado, Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell in Missouri, even Philadelphia 76ers general manager Billy King in Pennsylvania. Jay Timmons, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, detects "minority party" disenchantment.


Three federal grants have been awarded to American universities to "partner" with Iraqi universities, and additional grants will follow in the coming weeks.

The first $4.1 million grant, for the study of archaeology and environmental research, goes to the State University of New York at Stony Brook to partner with Baghdad University, Al Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, Mosul University and Basrah University.

Columbia University, Boston University and Oxford University in England will assist Stony Brook in providing tools and training to modernize Iraqi curricula in archaeology.

In addition, $3.8 million goes to the University of Hawaii to partner with the University of Mosul's College of Agriculture and Forestry in Hamam al-Alil, to strengthen academics in agricultural sciences at the University of Mosul and the University of Dohuk.

Finally, another $3.8 million goes to DePaul University's College of Law to work with the University of Baghdad. The U.S. Agency for International Development sees the partnerships as "a central and necessary element of the nation's transition to democracy."


We've learned that 11 former commissioners who served on the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission have endorsed a new plan to apply the BRAC model to closing "stagnant" U.S. Postal Service facilities.

The plan was originally proposed this summer by a panel appointed by President Bush to consider the future of the postal service.

"Because of its vast and outdated infrastructure, the U.S. Postal Service would benefit from the same kind of dispassionate review that we applied to the Department of Defense," the former commissioners say in a letter to Congress.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.