- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Sign of the times

There's sad Clinton news from Arkansas, one-time home of the spouse of the senator-elect from New York.

When the state Highway Department announced that it would soon take down the 100 highway signs posted at the state's borders boasting that Bill Clinton is a native son, the department said it would make some of them available to museums and others to preserve as "historical artifacts."

So far only 10 requests have been filed. Says one employee of the department: "They're not our hottest item. We thought a lot of people would want them just for target practice. Shooting up highway signs is a sport right up there with deer and duck hunting down here."

The 90 or so signs that won't go to museums will be repainted with a safety message: "Buckle Up for Safety."

Says Meredith Oakley, an early Clinton biographer ("On the Make," Regnery Press) and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock: "Buckling up for safety is what our boy should have done in the first place."

Butterfly eradication

Flanked by a voting machine and preceded by a salesman touting the machine's benefits, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government wasted no time examining "Chads, Dimples and Butterflies: Fixing the Mechanics of Voting."

"Everyone who attends the forum will receive a blank punch card," the school promised in advance of last evening's event.

A panel of seven players in the U.S. voting process discussed how to fix the system so that a "Florida situation" doesn't happen again. Among them: Trevor Potter, former head of the Federal Election Committee; R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, which writes the standards by which voting machines are judged; and Ernest R. Hawkins, registrar of voters in Sacramento, Calif., and head of the National Council of County Election Workers.

Problem profiteer?

Americans all over the country, regardless of their race, are being urged to condemn the "irresponsible" comments made by the Rev. Jesse Jackson in this newspaper after the U.S. Supreme Court hearings this week.

"Jackson is very close to inciting a race riot over this election," says the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, an interdenominational group comprising more than 43,000 church members. "Jackson said blacks will take to the streets to do whatever it takes to discredit George W. Bush."

Mr. Jackson predicted that there would be a "civil rights explosion" if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Bush.

Final announcement

President Clinton's former spokesman Mike McCurry was always masterful at diverting attention from the news of the day, especially when it wasn't so pleasant.

Yesterday, as the entire world awaited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on George W. Bush's plea to bar all further vote recounts in Florida, it was officially announced that Mr. McCurry has become chief executive officer of Grassroots.com.

An appointment everybody already knew in mid-November.

As the dot-com recalls Thomas Jefferson saying: "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."

Ghost writingGhost writing

"I shall not seek and would not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

No, President Clinton isn't getting any ideas. Rather, President Johnson wrote the pledge on March 31, 1968. It is one of 37 original documents that "charted the course of American history" and soon will go on display for the first time at the National Archives.

Our favorite "American Original," as Archives calls each document, is President Harry S. Truman's letter to Bess Truman, written at the White House on June 12, 1945:

"I sit here in this old house and work on foreign affairs … all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway."

Florida flakes

In the spirit of the season, the Web site for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions www.senate.gov/~labor/ has a picturesque winter scene of snow actually falling over the U.S. Capitol.

But don't be fooled.

"Given the Supreme Court oral arguments," suggests Larry Zaglaniczny, director of congressional relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, "it struck several of us at the office [that] the electronic falling snow looked to us like falling chads."

We'd say so, too, Mr. Zaglaniczny. Particularly given that the "snow" is falling out of a bright blue sky.

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