- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

Meredith’s megaphone

Uh-oh. NBC’s morning hostess Katie Couric has her liberal leanings — but will her replacement be worse? The network has hired ABC’s Meredith Vieira to replace Mrs. Couric in September when she leaves “Today” to go play anchorwoman over on CBS.

NBC made the announcement yesterday, a day after Miss Couric said she would leave “Today.”

“I’m very honored that NBC has asked me to co-host the ‘Today’ show,” Miss Vieira said on her program “The View” to a long burst of applause from her co-hosts and the in-studio audience.

Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center was not happy.

“NBC promises to poison Americans’ mornings with liberal bias by hiring Meredith Vieira,” he said yesterday. “She is not bashful about her disgust of the Bush administration and her anti-war stance. She even declared in 2004 that ‘everything’s been built on lies. Everything. I mean the entire pretext for war.’ How can NBC consider her a credible journalist when she spouts anti-war propaganda?”

“Today” quite possibly could remain a feel-good forum for liberals, feministas and the blame-America-first crowd.

“Ms. Vieira is a megaphone for the liberal cause and will continue the drumbeat of unbalanced reporting in the mornings over at NBC. At a time when trust in the news media is at an all-time low, NBC continues to turn a deaf ear to their own prejudices,” Mr. Bozell concluded.

Raise up Old Glory

Things have gotten so touchy in schools out West that students are now prohibited from wearing camouflage-patterned clothing because such sartorial persuasions constitute a “political statement.”

Officials fear youngsters might think cammies are a sign that the wearer supports U.S. troops in Iraq.

Meanwhile, schools in Longmont, Colo., Apache Junction, Ariz., and Oceanside, Calif., have banned the display of national flags — including Old Glory — to “prevent violence” between Anglo and Hispanic students. That has irked Jack Wheeler, publisher of To the Point News, an online conservative news site.

“When American schools prohibit the display of American flags by their students, you know political correctness has become truly pathological,” Mr. Wheeler said. “What we need now is a civil rights movement for American citizens. This will require acts of civil disobedience. Students in any school with a ban on displaying the American flag should be encouraged to disobey the ban, and should take to court any school administrator who punishes them.”

Mr. Wheeler added, “Anyone who doesn’t like to see the American flag and prefers another country’s flag should go to live in that other country. Mexicans need to be happy with Mexico. If they don’t like their country the way it is, they need to stay there and change it.”

Hola, America

Disgruntled immigrants — illegal and otherwise — who wave Mexican flags at protest rallies are defending their actions.

“Nobody gets upset with the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Gabriela Lemus of the District-based League of United Latin American Citizens. The group is now advising protesters to consider carrying both the American and Mexican flags at a rally in Tucson on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

“The Mexican flag is like a symbol of dignity and identity and pride for the people who carry it. If people try to read more into that flag than what it is, they’re wrong,” said Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers of America.

Isidro D. Ortiz, a political scientist at San Diego State University, said Hispanics wave their own flags “to express dissatisfaction with how they are treated.”

The insistence on waving native flags ultimately may cloud the protesters’ message, however. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, called the flags “a distraction.”

She added, “What the marchers were marching for was to say, ‘Hey, we are here, we work, we’re tired of being made to blame for every ill that people experience.’ ”

Live free, make nice?

“Live free or die?” Or maybe not.

New Hampshire is wrestling with its distinct, succinct motto, which has appeared on license plates and state signs for decades. Some want to replace the phrase with something more cuddly.

“I think it’s an in-your-face motto. It’s misinterpreted. It’s out of context. That’s not who we are,” said state Rep. Tim Robertson, a Democrat who prefers “Scenic New Hampshire” or “You’re going to like it here,” a motto developed by a Portsmouth, N.H., ad agency.

But “Live free or die” — attributed to Revolutionary War hero Gen. John Stark — has some hefty support in Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat. “It’s a part of who we are and part of our history, heritage and culture, and I think that is what people should see as they come across our borders,” he told the Associated Press.

Save the date

So what if it’s more than two years away? The Republican National Committee has announced its decision to hold the 2008 Republican National Convention Sept. 1 through Sept. 4.

“Our next nominee for president will enjoy the benefit of an exciting and dynamic national convention,” said committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

But where, Ken, where? The GOP now must find the right city to stage its highly coveted shindig, which could bring $30 million in revenue to the host city. The deadline for official convention bids is May 22; a selection committee will decide the finalist cities by midsummer, with the winner selected by Feb. 1.

Top of FEMA

FEMA will keep its temporary leader, in part because nobody else wanted the job.

President Bush yesterday nominated the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be permanent head of the disaster-response body, just two months before hurricane season begins, the Associated Press reports.

R. David Paulison, a 30-year firefighter, took over leadership at FEMA in September when Bush named him to replace Michael D. Brown, who quit in the face of unrelenting criticism over the agency’s sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Paulison would be undersecretary for federal emergency management at the Homeland Security Department.

“I’d be darned if I was going to turn my back on it,” Mr. Paulison said at a press conference after he and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged that others were not interested in the job.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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