- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Mirror, mirror

That was former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell backstage for Monday night’s sold-out Rolling Stones concert at the MCI Center, glad-handing fans just prior to Mick Jagger‘sdedicating the song “Back of My Hand” to controversial Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.

“We’ve got a good partisan crowd here tonight,” Mr. Jagger told the crowd, which included our reporterAudrey Hudson. “We’ve got some Democrats, we’ve got some Republicans. We’ve also got Harriet Miers here tonight.

“You know, she was in charge of the Supreme Court justice selection committee,” Mr. Jagger noted. “She looked high and low for a judge, you know. But she couldn’t find one. And one day, she woke up and looked in the mirror. She said, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest judge of all?’”

Return to sender

Maudelle Shirek won’t get her post office after all.

Ask a majority of congressmen on Capitol Hill, and they’ll tell you the 94-year-old former vice mayor and city council member of Berkeley, Calif., is far too liberal for them to have approved naming Berkeley’s U.S. postal facility the “Maudelle Shirek Post Office.”

Such a designation, pushed hard by Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, failed by a vote of 215 to 190.

So who is Maudelle Shirek, and why is her record so controversial?

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) calls our attention to past descriptions of Ms. Shirek, including when the San Francisco Chronicle labeled her “a giant in Bay Area leftist circles,” who “traveled extensively on political missions, to Palestinian territories in protest of Israeli policies … Nicaragua and Cuba, where she dined with Fidel Castro.”

Even while pushing 90, she signed an International Action Center petition blasting a newly elected President Bush “and his racist, anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-environment program,” which “poses a grave danger to the people and the planet on many fronts.”

A native of Jefferson, Ark., Ms. Shirek moved to Berkeley in the 1940s.

Hurricane heyday

Given massive waste and fraud associated with the use of government-issued credit cards, another potential disaster is on the horizon now that Hurricane Katrina legislation approved by the House increases the credit limit on government purchase and travel cards from $15,000 to $250,000.

Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and former judge, can’t help but recall 15 percent of 300 Department of Agriculture employees audited in 2003 who used Uncle Sam’s credit cards to make personal purchases such as car payments and cash advances, to the tune of $5.8 million.

And at the Pentagon, Air Force and Navy personnel were discovered in 2002 audits to have spent $73,950 at exotic dance clubs and/or for prostitutes, $102,400 for tickets to entertainment events and $48,250 on gambling, while others took ocean cruises (not on Navy ships) to the tune of $69,300 — and this was just in one recent 18-month period.

“If these examples were perpetrated with relatively low credit limits, imagine the fraud, waste and abuse that will take place now that the credit limit has increased 16 times its original limit,” says Mr. Poe, who is introducing legislation to require that every government credit-card bill be posted on a specific agency’s inspector general’s Web site within 15 business days of the transaction.

Furthermore, he wants any federal employee caught abusing government credit cards to either be fired on the spot, forced to pay the bill or return the items.

Roasting roasters

For this evening at least, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes gets to do the roasting, as the Spina Bifida Association puts TV personality Barbara Walters in the hot seat at the Hyatt Regency Washington.

Joining Mrs. Hughes, who still is reeling from negative reviews of her maiden Mideast diplomacy tour, will be Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, who allowed her emotions to take center stage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And what roasting is complete without a Clinton in the house — for this event, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who at press time still remained a Democrat.

“We’re thrilled to have a stellar lineup of roasters to entertain and intrigue our many, supportive guests while delivering our message of preventing spina bifida,” says SBA Chief Executive Officer Cindy Brownstein. Spina bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in this country, affecting 70,000 men, women, adolescents and children.

The annual roast was founded in 1989 by reporter Judy Woodruff and columnist Al Hunt whose son, Jeffrey, has spina bifida, a neural-tube defect that occurs in the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column doesn’t close completely.

Also on hand this evening will be ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson, with political commentator Mark Shields serving as master of ceremonies.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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