- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

One of the crowd

Capitol Hill's popular coffee shop Stompin' Grounds, near Eastern Market, has attracted a new and high-profile customer: Chelsea Clinton.

Taking a semester off from her Stanford University studies, the first daughter took a break from escorting her dad around the country and helping her mom campaign in New York to sample life on the other side of the U.S Capitol.

She casually strolled into Stompin' Grounds alone (OK, we did detect one very discreet Secret Service agent) and happily chatted with fellow customers standing in line.

"Yes, it was wonderful," she answered enthusiastically when one admirer asked about her recent trek to the Olympic games in Australia.

Reaching the front of the line, vegetarian Chelsea promptly ordered a zucchini muffin and "skinny cappuccino." She took a seat at the counter and ate the muffin in quick time before her coffee was even served. So she ordered a second muffin, and wolfed that down in fine style, too.

Imagorenation

Aides offer an explanation

For Albert's exaggeration:

It's not that he lies,

It's just that he tries

To use his imagination.

F.R. DuPlantier

Flag gaffe

Veterans were among those who noticed that the American flag was hung incorrectly at a campaign event for Vice President Al Gore in Florida yesterday.

Old Glory was displayed at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla., hanging vertically with its blue field, known as the union, in the upper right corner as viewed by observers who were facing it.

The union should always appear in the upper left corner to those who are facing it, according to Title 36 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 10, as amended by P.L. 322, approved by the 103rd Congress on Sept. 13, 1994:

"When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left," states the law as posted on the American Legion's official Web site.

A spokesman for the Gore campaign could not be reached for comment immediately yesterday on the gaffe. But if sheepish aides did fess up and bring the mistake to the attention of the vice president, we have a feeling that Mr. Gore must have rolled his eyes and sighed audibly.

Politics & potato chips

With campaign finance reform on the congressional agenda, it's worth repeating this intriguing counterargument: publicize political donations, don't regulate them.

"The poet William Stafford has warned, 'If you purify the pond, the water lilies die.' In a similar way," says the National Issues Forum book "Money & Politics: Who Owns Democracy?", "excessive regulatory efforts to purify election of dirty money is wilting democracy.

"Nothing can stop political corruption which erupts relatively rare in America but strictly enforcing fuller and faster disclosure of donations would strongly deter every possible type of campaign finance abuse, in this view."

It was Peggy Ellis of the Cato Institute who once wrote that not enough money is invested in the democratic process in the first place.

"If you look at every race in the country, from dogcatcher to president, the amount spent is less than $10 per eligible voter," she notes. "As a society, we spend more on potato chips … than we do on politics."

Another chapter

Rich Cohen, author of "Tough Jews," says while he's not surprised by the current round of fighting in the Middle East, he is disturbed by the region's never-ending cycle of violence.

As a teen-ager traveling to Israel with his family in 1977, Mr. Cohen says, he began to absorb what the conflicts mean and eventually began writing about them. His latest book, "The Avengers: A Jewish War Story" (Knopf), is the story of three friends who banded together to move beyond the violence of the Holocaust.

Now, in light of Israel's latest turmoil, tomorrow evening's book launching at the home of former CNN producer Tammy Haddad and her husband/lawyer, Ted Greenberg, is a double-edged sword. A high-profile guest list includes Health & Human Services Secretary Donna M. Shalala, Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett and Ambassador Richard Carlson.

Also attending will be authors Larry Leamer, Diana McLellan, Dan Moldea, Elizabeth Drew and Myra MacPherson, as well as media colleagues John McLaughlin, Greta van Susteren, Tony Blankley, Margaret Carlson, Margaret Werner and Gloria Borger.

Perhaps the most special guest of the evening will be Mr. Cohen's father, Herb, whose own best-selling book, "How to Negotiate Anything" first published in 1989 continues to sell on Amazon.com.

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