- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Ask Nostradamus

No one can blame Martin Peretz, editor in chief and chairman of the New Republic, for being sorely disappointed over the close defeat of his friend and former student Al Gore.

But Mr. Peretz makes no effort to hide his bitterness in a column in his magazine's latest issue.

"Al Gore's elegant and eloquent short talk congratulating Bush on his election was actually painful for me to hear," Mr. Peretz wrote.

He added: "Neither my son Jesse nor I put much stock in the prophecies of Nostradamus. Especially when Nostradamus's 'prophecies' come from the Web, which has a tendency to manufacture quotes for occasions like these. But I'll share the 'quotation' from the medieval prognosticator that Jesse e-mailed me anyway, because, whoever penned them, the words couldn't be more true, or more sad:

'Come the millennium, month 12,

In the home of greatest power,

The village idiot will come forth

To be acclaimed the leader.' "

Ask Nostradamus II

"Have you all got that phony Nostradamus prediction by e-mail?" Andrew Sullivan asks at his Web site, andrewsullivan.com.

"Here's the offending verse, allegedly penned in 1555:

'Come the millennium, month 12,

In the home of the greatest power,

The village idiot will come forth

To be acclaimed the leader.'

"Brilliant insight, no? What does it say about the caliber of many liberals that the smartest thing they can say now is that George W. Bush is a village idiot?" said the former New Republic editor and present writer of the magazine's "TRB from Washington" column.

"At bottom, many educated liberals honestly believe that anyone who disagrees with them is either dumb or evil. Perhaps that's why they haven't won many arguments lately it's too boring to debate with morons and bigots.

"But my favorite example of this genre comes from where else? France. Le Monde recently described Bush's elevation as the 'cretinisation' of American politics. This is brutal enough about W. But what does it say about the people who voted for him? Well, we may be cretins, I guess. But at least we're not French."

Bogus scorecard

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume last week denounced attorney general nominee Sen. John Ashcroft, saying the Missouri Republican had received a grade of "F" on each of the group's last three report cards.

Well, it turns out that most of the NAACP report card has nothing to do with civil rights; it's just a laundry list of positions supported by the Democratic Party.

Marc Levin, first vice chairman of the National Council for a Republican Congress, pointed out in a prepared statement: "It is bogus to use the NAACP report card as a civil rights barometer, as most of the 15 votes have more to do with political partisanship than equal justice.

"For example, who would have thought that perjury and obstruction of justice would be termed civil rights by the NAACP? Yet, two of the 15 votes used by the NAACP in their 1999-2000 report card are the Clinton impeachment votes."

Mr. Levin added: "Another bill used by the NAACP, which calls for hiring more teachers, has far more to do with one's view of the appropriate federal role in education than civil rights. Likewise, the measures in the scorecard concerning background checks at gun shows and pawn shops can hardly be deemed civil rights issues.

"The same applies to votes on a minimum-wage increase and the Democrats' version of a Patients' Bill of Rights.

"These economic and social issues reflect philosophical differences on the size and scope of the federal government that have absolutely nothing to do with civil rights. To cast these votes off as being referendums on civil rights is disingenuous."

Mr. Levin said it was "quite suspicious that virtually every Republican on the NAACP scorecard received an 'F' while almost all Democrats got an 'A'. The NAACP clearly picked votes having nothing to do with civil rights in order to impugn Republicans while, at the same time, creating the appearance that Democrats are perfect on civil rights."

Taxpayers' friend

The National Taxpayers Union was pleased by the nomination of Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general.

In the NTU's most recent rating, the Missouri Republican voted with taxpayers 79 percent of the time, compared to 45 percent for the average senator.

NTU's annual rating is the only analysis of each member of Congress that includes every single vote on taxes and spending during the previous session.

Sensitive partying

The Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, shrugs off news that Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, is hunting for a posh home in Washington to use as a Democratic salon.

"If she's going to represent me, I want her in Washington, and it's not unusual for her to be giving parties, but it could all be done with a little care and sensitivity," Mr. Butts told New York Daily News reporter Edward Lewine.

Mr. Butts added: "I think one should realize that she's going to run for president. I don't think we ought to be naive about it, dodge it or hold it against her, but she will want to maintain a presence in D.C."

Backdoor regulations

Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is not happy over the avalanche of regulations emanating from the Clinton administration in its final days.

"I've been sitting around here for the last few days sulking and moaning about what you do with a system that waits for Congress to go home and then puts out through the back door 30,000 pages of regulations that you couldn't get through the front door of the White House," Mr. Donohue told New York Times reporter Richard W. Stevenson.

"The president has the right, right up to the 20th of January, to act presidential and instruct the agencies of his administration as he sees fit. But let's not kid anybody. They couldn't get his stuff through if Congress was here."

To tell the truth

The TV networks played up Clinton administration complaints last week that George W. Bush was "running down" the economy, but none pointed out that the gross domestic product grew at a faster rate in the third quarter of 1992 (2.7 percent) under President Bush than in the third quarter of this year (2.2 percent), the Media Research Center reports.

However, Steve Centanni of the Fox News Channel told viewers that "if, as some say, Bush is playing politics with the economy, he wouldn't be the first. Eight years ago, candidate Bill Clinton campaigned on the economy, ignoring signs that an economic recovery was already under way. And as president-elect, Bill Clinton convened a Little Rock summit to talk about mending a broken economy that he claimed to be inheriting from George Bush."

Goetz and Sharpton

Bernie Goetz, the "subway vigilante," is urging New Yorkers to back rabble-rouser Al Sharpton for mayor, New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser writes.

"Right. The minister who made Bernie's life hell 16 years ago, who protested Goetz's shooting of four black youths who were about to mug Bernie, on the subway, has earned Goetz's nod of approval," the columnist said.

Said Mr. Goetz: "The big-name Democrats are exploiting race to get votes. Mark Green, Al Hevesi say that, whatever they do, they're acting in the best interests of black people.

"Well, you may as well vote for a black candidate instead of them."

For his part, Mr. Goetz hopes to run for mayor on the Independence Party line.

"Crazier things have happened," the columnist said. "Geraldo Rivera said he wants to run, too."

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