- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2000

The front line

We've ventured with 15,000 other scribes beyond the Beltway to the City of Brotherly Love, to witness the sport of politics.
Or so we thought.
"Recent political protests over everything from World Bank meetings to the Elian Gonzales case have had one thing in common the arrest of, interference with, or outright assault on journalists covering the news," we're warned by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
"To prevent or at least minimize these disruptions during the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, a hot line has been established to ensure that cost-free legal assistance will be only a telephone call away."
Wait a minute, we're covering a political convention, a Republican one at that. Are you saying we might need legal counsel?
"Philadelphia attorney Samuel Klein and his law firm, Dechert, have volunteered to [assist] credentialed journalists covering the convention."
Do you mean we could wind up in the slammer?
"The Philadelphia Police Department and other officials will cooperate with hot-line lawyers to minimize problems for journalists arrested or detained."
Will we be locked up overnight?
"If you are arrested for a felony, such as assaulting a police officer, your detention will be longer and your legal problems more serious."

Uh, oh

The opening of the Republican National Convention here in Philadelphia has been overshadowed by "The Bill Clinton For Vice President Committee," initiated yesterday. All concerns should be addressed to Steven A. Swan, committee organizer.

Do I hear a dime?

Figuring Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush might fool everybody by selecting Richard B. Cheney as his running mate, Inside the Beltway reader Gary Mittin weeks ago registered the Internet domain "gwbush-cheney.com." Now the domain is up for auction on Yahoo, with bidding starting at $1.
However, Mr. Mittin notes that "reflective of today's apathetic political scene, there have been few views and no offers."

Engaging America

Move over, Jim Lehrer.
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsors and produces the general-election debates, says John Q. Public can now log onto the Internet and suggest topics for the upcoming 2000 presidential and vice-presidential debates.
While final question selection will remain the decision of the independent debate moderator, Americans at least now have a tool for making their preferences known.
"We strongly believe technology can expand the ways in which citizens learn about issues central to the debates and the election," says Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chairman of the debates.
The directions: click onto the Web site www.debates.org and complete the questionnaire, designed to identify the issues the public wants discussed at the three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, all being held in October.

Indoctrinated

Georgia's newest senator, Democrat Zell Miller, certainly hasn't traveled to this Republican powwow, but he has adapted quickly to political life in Washington, holding his first fund-raiser hours before he appeared on the Senate floor to be sworn into office Thursday.
For just $1,000 per person, or $5,000 per political action committee the maximum donation allowed by law one could have breakfast with the former governor at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill.
The event was hosted by Senate Minority Leader Tom Dashcle and Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That committee is in charge of getting Mr. Miller elected in November to the seat formerly held by the late Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell.
Some members of Congress found the timing of the invitation tasteless it was faxed out the Monday following the previous senator's funeral.
"The tears had not even dried on the widow's face," one congressman tells us.

No tear gas

We actually did stumble upon several protests in Philadelphia yesterday, and we didn't get arrested for assaulting anybody.
There was the Unity 2000 march and rally of the left 200 left-wing groups calling attention to everything from "sexism and homophobia" to "rapacious globalism and growing militarism."
The cleanest-cut bunch were young libertarian activists promoting individual liberty as a constructive alternative to Republican Party goals and the "negative anti-globalization" message of Unity 2000 protesters.
Says Kendra Okonski: "Libertarians believe liberty is the best way to promote peace and tolerance, and to improve the well being of the world's poor, not just the world's elite."

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