John McCaslin

"The vice president won't be strolling any Baghdad markets."

— White House pool report explaining Vice President Dick Cheney's surprise visit to Baghdad this week to meet with Iraqi government officials.

Confrontation 101

Imagine the pride a young girl feels when looking down from the gallery above the U.S. Senate floor as her grandfather deliberates on the war in Iraq.

Imagine the grandfather — in this case, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — pausing during the proceedings to note that his granddaughter, Silvi Specter, and 58 of her seventh-grade classmates from Robert Saligman Middle School outside Philadelphia, were seated in the gallery observing the U.S. Congress in session.

Then imagine Mr. Specter spontaneously weaving his position on continued funding for the war in Iraq into a lesson for the visiting students about the legislative process.

"This is basic civics, but it is good to repeat it," Mr. Specter noted, glancing toward the gallery. He said there are 100 senators and 435 congressmen, and he explained how bills they pass go to the president for his signature, although that's not always the case.

"We have a fascinating part of the legislative process right now with the issue of the funding of the Iraq war," the senator observed. "We have a unique constitutional confrontation. I think it is not an overstatement to say it is of historic proportion — perhaps the most dramatic constitutional confrontation between the Article I power of the Congress to appropriate, commonly known as the power of the purse, and the authority of the president under his power as commander in chief.

"The president is insisting on carrying out the program he has in mind with the addition of troops, a surge in Iraq, to try to restore order to that country. I believe had we known Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, we would not have gone into Iraq to start with, but once there, we do not want to leave it in a state of turmoil. So we are trying to work our way through the problems as best we can."

Weather extremes

"We know we have a 10-year window to address global climate change before it's too late."

— Sen. John Kerry, in remarks yesterday at a global-warming hearing called by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Where's the global warming? It's freezing in here."

— Music legend Bob Dylan, asked during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine whether he is concerned about global warming.

More Mark Felts

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 .

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