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A Ballistic Missile Base to Call Your Own

An eBay bidder might win this Titan ballistic missile facility, formerly Larsen Air Force Base, which includes 57 acres, three 160-foot-tall missile silos and much more.
An eBay bidder might win this Titan ballistic missile facility, formerly Larsen Air Force Base, which includes 57 acres, three 160-foot-tall missile silos and much more. (By Bari Hotchkiss)

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In one e-mail, Fratto, talking about Nussle's appearance on television Tuesday, the day the Federal Reserve cut its prime rate by half a point, tells Kevelighan:

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"We don't comment on FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] decisions -- and neither should anyone else.

"The appropriate reaction is: 'We don't comment on Fed decisions. We respect the independence of the Fed in setting monetary policy.'

"If pressed: 'We have confidence in Chairman Bernanke.' "

Kevelighan replies: "Yep. Made that clear to Jim."

Then Kevelighan sends another e-mail to Fratto: "Jim just laid groundwork. She [CNBC'S Maria Bartiromo] was not happy."

In the interview, Bartiromo notes, "I realize you can't comment about the Fed, right?" and asks Nussle for a general comment about cutting interest rates.

"We don't like to comment on . . . the Fed policy," Nussle said, hailing "an independent Federal Reserve" and saying he has "a lot of confidence in Chairman Bernanke."

But, as we all know, message control begins at the top. So here's President Bush, asked yesterday about the Fed's move. "I do not comment on the decisions made by the Fed," Bush said. "I will comment on Ben Bernanke; I think he's doing a fine job."

Bipartisan Support for Craig

Idaho GOP Sen. Larry Craig's heroic legal battle to rescind his disorderly conduct guilty plea -- an issue heading for a showdown next week in a Minneapolis courtroom -- is picking up strong support from liberal and conservative legal experts.

The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, has filed a brief on his behalf saying, among other things, that the sting operation was unconstitutional. "Solicitation for private sex, regardless if it occurs in a bar or a restroom, is protected speech under the First Amendment," the ACLU says. Craig probably would strongly disagree with that, but no matter. This is no time to get picky.

Much more important, the Bush Justice Department is on record objecting to the tactics used by the Minneapolis airport police to ensnare the senator.

A 2005 Justice Department report, "Illicit Sexual Activity in Public Places," finds that using undercover decoys has "limited effectiveness" in such cases. The report, writes Slate's Bruce Reed, also says: "It is important to note that engaging in same-sex activity does not necessarily imply a homosexual identity; in fact, many men who have sex with men in public places are married or otherwise heterosexually involved, and do not consider themselves to be gay."

So there you have it.

The Unbureaucrats

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff are naming special representatives to coordinate their departments' sluggish admission of Iraqi refugees to the United States, tapping former U.S. ambassador to Haiti James B. Foley and Lori Scialabba, associate director of refugee, asylum and international operations for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, sources said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Rice is looking for a "bureaucratic brick-breaker" whose "full-time job and whose preoccupation" will be to clear logjams.

Nasty jobs even in the best of times.

Send In the IRS

Bushism of the midweek. From yesterday's news conference: "We dealt with a recession, a terrorist attack and corporate scandals. And we did it by cutting taxes."

One more cut in capital gains, and Osama's toast.


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