- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

Sharpton vs. Rangel

“The Rev. Al Sharpton is working behind the scenes to oust Harlem’s most famous and powerful elected official, Rep. Charles Rangel,” the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker reports.

“Sharpton, furious at Rangel’s support for retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s ailing presidential campaign and convinced the 73-year-old lawmaker is past his prime, took time from his own quixotic bid for the Democratic presidential nomination a week ago to encourage [New York] Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV to enter the race,” Mr. Dicker said.

“‘He told me he would back me if I run,’ said Powell, an East Harlem Democrat who’s backing Sharpton for president. …

“Powell’s father was the legendary and controversial Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who died in 1972.

“Rangel narrowly ousted Powell Jr. in 1970 and fought off a challenge by Powell IV 10 years ago.

“A source close to Sharpton confirmed the activist’s interest in ousting Rangel and sarcastically declared, ‘If you are running this year for Congress in Harlem, who would you rather have backing you, Wesley Clark or Al Sharpton?’”

Edwards’ explanation

Sen. John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat and presidential candidate, has conceded that infant cerebral palsy usually is not the fault of the doctors who deliver the baby — even though he argued otherwise in his days as a trial lawyer.

Mr. Edwards was responding to a story first reported by Marc Morano of CNSNews.com on Jan. 20. The CNSNews.com report said that a large part of Mr. Edwards’ legal career was based on “junk science,” which allowed him to win hugely lucrative legal judgments or settlements against the medical profession.

According to Saturday’s New York Times, “Mr. Edwards did not dispute the contention … that few cases of cerebral palsy are caused by mishandled deliveries.” Mr. Edwards did say that during his legal career, he represented only the few cases that were the exceptions to the rule.

Dean’s jab

Howard Dean took a jab at presidential rival John Kerry, suggesting the Massachusetts Democrat had received Botox injections to smooth out wrinkles in his previously craggy face.

During an event Sunday in Roseville, Mich., Mr. Dean telephoned supporters around the country. When the former Vermont governor glanced up at a giant television screen and caught a glimpse of country singer Willie Nelson, he smiled broadly and remarked, “It looks like he had Botox injections, too,” Reuters news agency reports.

After the laughter subsided, Mr. Dean quickly added: “I didn’t say who the other person was. I didn’t say who the other person was.”

Mr. Kerry has denied that his suddenly more youthful countenance has anything to do with the muscle-paralyzing drug.

Dean pays up

Howard Dean’s presidential campaign has paid the $963 it owed to an Iowa deli, WHO-TV in Des Moines reports

A UPS delivery brought the check to the Brown Bag Deli in West Des Moines on Friday.

“The deli’s owner, Scott Hoffman, gladly accepted the check that had been due since Jan. 16,” the TV station said. “Hoffman says he has even named a sandwich after the former governor — he says it’s made with ‘bologna and cheese.’”

The hemp vote

The endorsements just keep rolling in for Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich. The man who is beloved by vegetarians and incense sniffers everywhere has been given an A+ for his views on industrial hemp by the folks at Vote Hemp.

In a survey given to the presidential candidates last fall, “He expressed full support for keeping hemp food products legal, despite the Drug Enforcement Administration’s attempt to ban edible hemp,” according to the ratings at votehemp.com.

John Edwards earned a B- for his views — and the fact that he was the only other presidential hopeful who responded. Extra demerits go to Sen. John Kerry, who, according to the Web site, “Personally promised Vote Hemp an answer to our survey. Did not keep his promise.”

Richardson’s plan

After predicting that today’s New Mexico caucuses will be “a huge success” in highlighting the West, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Sunday that he plans to push for a Western regional primary in four years to increase the political clout of the Rocky Mountain states.

“My hope is that we Western states can get together and hold a regional primary early on, like Feb. 3,” the Democrat told the Denver Post. “I would think the Republicans would want an early say in the election and the Democrats would want to take this the next step.”

Tax troubles

Three Georgia lawmakers, including the chairman of the state’s House Ethics Committee, are named on a list of 287,000 people and 80,000 companies owing back taxes to the state.

Georgia’s Department of Revenue announced yesterday it will begin posting the names of those individuals and businesses on its Web site starting next week.

Included are the names of Democratic state Sen. Vincent Fort, and Democratic state Reps. Barbara Mobley and Lynmore James.

Miss Mobley, who leads the House Ethics Committee, owed a total of $3,192 for tax years 1996 and 1997, while Mr. James owed $995 for tax year 1997. Mr. Fort owed $1,150 in taxes, interest and penalties for tax years 1993 and 1998.

Political laundry

“Reality television hits the 2004 campaign this month with ‘Staffers,’ a Discovery Times show chronicling the lives and dirty laundry, literally, of the grunts behind the candidates,” Shailagh Murrary reports in the Wall Street Journal.

“Watch a Dean intern in South Carolina find out she isn’t getting her next paycheck and a Clark aide race through Banana Republic in search of clean clothes. The Kucinich camp, says producer Steve Rosenbum, is ‘like a Fellini movie.’”

Smaller paychecks

Several San Francisco officials have accepted Mayor Gavin Newsom’s call to take a 15 percent salary cut, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Newsom said he will reduce his $168,867 salary by $25,000. He also asked employees earning at least $125,000 to accept a pay cut. Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who took a 7.5 percent cut last year and planned to do the same this year, called Mr. Newsom’s move “grandstanding.”

Ramones for Reagan

Not all rock music icons are kneejerk liberals.

In an article in the latest issue of Reason magazine, Northwestern University senior David Weigel writes that Johnny Ramone, guitarist for seminal punk-rock band the Ramones, “vehemently objected” to the original title of the band’s anti-Reagan song, “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg.” The song was retitled “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down,” on the group’s 1986 album, “Animal Boy.”

Johnny Ramone later explained: “I thought Ronald Reagan was the best president of our lifetime.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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