- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

Betting on Snow

In this gambling-crazed country of ours, one can place a wager on just about anything — or anyone — these days.

The continued shuffling of the White House staff is no exception, including the latest resignation announcement by press secretary Scott McClellan. BetUS.com, one of the world’s largest online betting organizations with more than 500 employees, already has posted odds on who will become Mr. McClellan’s replacement:

Peter Watkins: 8 to 1

David Gergen: 8 to 1

Dana Perino: 6 to 5

Dan Bartlett: 6 to 5

Tony Snow: 4 to 1

Victoria Clark: 12 to 1

Dan Senor: 12 to 1

Paul Bremer: 15 to 1

Ari Fleischer: 40 to 1

George Stephanopoulos: 80 to 1

Nixon over Hillary

When he’s not powdering his nose for the television lights, the ever-feisty political commentator Pat Buchanan is busy penning his weekly column for the American Conservative, a no-holds-barred magazine he co-founded in 2002.

This week, beneath the headline “Conservative Crack-Up,” Mr. Buchanan suggests a conservative civil war is approaching over four specific issues where “no conservative consensus exists, and where populists are in open rebellion” — trade, immigration, foreign policy and big government.

Never a publication to mask its dissatisfaction with the policies of President Bush, one also reads in the current issue about the ongoing strife in Iraq, and how “Republicans secure in their partisan cocoons continue to maintain that Iraq is transforming into a democratic Disneyland.”

Don’t bank on seeing Mickey Mouse anytime soon, Mr. Buchanan will be the first to tell you.

As for losing three million manufacturing jobs in Middle America, a trade deficit that in January crossed the $820 billion mark, and the impending death of General Motors and Ford, had Democratic Sen. John Kerry “been less of a wind-surfer and more of a populist, he could have ripped Ohio and the presidency away from Bush on the jobs and trade issue” alone, the commentator adds.

But most intriguing to us is that it’s not just disgruntled conservatives who find solace and refuge in the pages of the American Conservative. Liberals abandoned by their own party are also subscribing, it would appear. Consider this week’s letter-to-the-editor from Cliff Story of Murfreesboro, Tenn.:

“As a leftist of long standing, I decline to accept the leadership you wish to impose upon me (‘Hillary the Hawk’). Hillary Clinton is a creature of the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council), that GOP core at the Democratic Party’s heart. I’d prefer the leadership of Richard Nixon to hers. In revenge for this insult, I shall continue to call George W. Bush a conservative.”

Military factor

The non-partisan Overseas Vote Foundation, which provides voting information services to U.S. military and other American voters living overseas, finds a “strong sign” that overseas voter registration activity has picked up in advance of the crucial November 2006 mid-term elections.

The foundation’s main goal this election year is to maintain a voter help desk that can provide a turnaround response time of less than 12 hours.

Progress, by golly

The fact that not a single Code Red day for poor air quality was declared in the nation’s capital during the long hot summer of 2005 is proof that the march of environmental progress continues.

So states the 2006 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, just released by the Pacific Research Institute and Washington-based American Enterprise Institute. Indeed, ozone levels are falling in 19 eastern states where smog has been a recurring problem in the summer.

Even in Los Angeles, the number of exceedances of the ozone standard during the last 30 years has dropped significantly, from 201 in 1975 to 75 in 2005. There are large scale areas of the Los Angeles air basin that have had no exceedances of the ozone standard for the last several years, the report states.

Watershed moments

“Promptly a few minutes before 12 I looked up from the desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway.”

Or so we read for the first time in President Truman’s personal diary, describing his first meeting with Josef Stalin on July 17, 1945. The diary is just one sample of a major exhibition entitled “Eyewitness: American originals from the National Archives” — letters, diaries, photographs and other materials selected from billions of documents in the holdings of the Archives — set to open in Washington this summer.

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

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