In a fundraising e-mail sent last weekend, the Minnesota Democrat attempted to dazzle would-be donors to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee with some number-juggling prowess. He boasted that he often entertains kids on visits to schools in his state by proving the Pythagorean theorem on their chalkboards (we can practically hear the oohs and ahhs from the impressed grade-schoolers) and cheekily referred to himself as a “math genius.”
In the e-mail, Franken makes a math metaphor, urging donors to pay up to prevent Republicans from taking control of the Senate, a proposition he calls “some math I don’t love.”
The e-mail then lapses into a difficult-to-follow equation: “X = President Romney. Y = a Republican Senate. X + Y = Z. Solve for Z,” he challenged.
“Z could mean the end of Medicare as we know it,” Franken said. This is something the Republicans surely would call “fuzzy math.”
Franken then switches to the old hard sell. “But, alas, it’ll take more than elementary geometry to help the DSCC reach its $90,000 goal before Saturday night’s deadline. We need your help. By which, again, I mean your money.”
Ah, some figures we understand.
Once more into limbo
We wrote a happy item last week about nearly four score Obama nominees confirmed after the Senate and White House struck a deal, the confirmations in exchange for a pledge there would be no White House recess appointees over spring break.
But there was sad news for a handful of nominees left on the platform when the train chugged away, awaiting an uncertain future as summer approaches. Some have been subject to “holds” by one or more senators — often for extraneous matters — and may need 60 votes to get confirmed.
Others, including some who got to the floor too late last week — just as they senators were packing to get away — may yet be able to get confirmed, perhaps individually or via a political “package deal,” being paired with a GOP nominee or another sweetener.
Here are some of those still awaiting Senate action:
●Kenneth Kopocis, who was nominated in June to be the Environment Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for water.
■Carol Galante, nominated in October as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s assistant secretary in charge of the Federal Housing Administration.
●Arunava Majumdar, now director of the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, who was nominated in November to be undersecretary of energy.
●Michael Scuse, who was nominated in September to be undersecretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services.
●Mark Lippert, who had been National Security Council chief of staff and was nominated in October to be assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs.
●Carlos Pascual was nominated to be the first assistant secretary of state for energy., Remember, he was forced out as ambassador to Mexico a year ago after WikiLeaks leaked a cable in which he complained about inefficiency and infighting among Mexican security forces in the drug war.
●Adam Namm, a career Foreign Service officer who was nominated in September to be ambassador to Ecuador.
●Mari Carmen Aponte, who had been given a recess appointment in August 2010 as ambassador to El Salvador, lost the job when Senate Republicans blocked her confirmation in December and declined to approve her before leaving for recess.
Costly errors on Stevens
The mistakes by prosecutors handling the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens , who died in 2010, not only cost them the case, they cost taxpayers nearly a cool million bucks.
Our colleague Del Quentin Wilber reports that the law firm of Henry F. Schuelke III , who was appointed special prosecutor, was paid $981,842.42 to investigate the alleged mishandling of the case. Schuelke’s blistering 514-page report concluded that prosecutors had engaged in serious misconduct.
Schuelke testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he told Stevens’s former colleagues that the prosecutors in the corruption case were so intent on winning, they intentionally withheld information they were obligated to give the defense.
But their overzealousness eventually botched the case: A federal judge threw out Stevens’s guilty verdict and ordered the independent investigation after the Justice Department disclosed that evidence was withheld from defense attorneys.
Stevens, who died in a 2010 plane crash, was convicted in 2008 on corruption charges and weeks later lost his bid for reelection.
With Emily Heil
The blog: washingtonpost.com/