- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2000

Ducking a suit

Further proof we live in a litigious society is when you can't even quack like a duck and not face a lawsuit.

Former Republican Sen. Mack Mattingly, who is campaigning to unseat Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, had been running a humorous TV ad in which a duck quacks "Back Mack."

No sooner did the ad appear than Georgia insurance company AFLAC got its feathers ruffled, charging the "Back Mack" quack sounded too much like the "AFLAC" quack in its own TV commercials.

Mr. Miller stopped quacking after AFLAC threatened to sue, citing copyright infringement.

Military magic

A Catholic congressman is furious that the U.S. Army command in Europe "has denied Catholic soldiers the right to hold Mass" at a military base chapel, yet does allow "witchcraft and pagan ceremonies at the base."

"When the U.S. Army allows Satan in one door and will not allow God in the other door America is so screwed up we do not know where we are going," shouted Democratic Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Ohio.

The congressman took to the floor of the House last week to quote one Army spokesman as explaining: "The Army will not pay for the cost of a priest. If we allow the Catholics in, we must allow all religions in."

The Army spokesman said "the witchcraft groups pay for their own pagan ministers."

"Now, if that is not enough to shred the Bible," said Mr. Traficant.

Pentagon pets

The current level of defense spending and resulting state of our armed forces were central issues in the presidential campaign long before last week's attack on a U.S. Navy warship in Yemen.

"George W. Bush asserts that years of insufficient funding, combined with a significant increase in deployments during the Clinton-Gore administration, has left our armed forces poorly trained, poorly equipped and stretched too thin," Eric V. Schlecht, director of congressional relations at the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union (NTU), noted days before the bombing of the USS Cole.

"Vice President Albert Gore Jr., meanwhile, claims that whatever minor funding problems may have existed are already being corrected by recent increases in military spending," he said.

At first blush, said Mr. Schlecht, the Texas governor has a better understanding of the situation facing the Pentagon. Recent testimony by the Joint Chiefs of Staff pointed to serious problems in spare parts, weapons procurement and military readiness.

Now, get a load of this: While many of America's fighting men and woman are forced to rely on food stamps, and you can't find enough pilots or spare parts for military airplanes, hundreds of millions of defense dollars are being spent on totally unrelated "social" programs.

A short list of the Pentagon's "pet projects" for this year, as compiled by the NTU:

• $2 million for the Bosque Redondo Memorial in New Mexico.

• $2.5 million for marijuana eradication in Hawaii.

• $7.5 million for national counter-drug support.

• $5 million for the Hawaii federal health care network.

• $50 million for the overall peer review medical research program.

• $3 million for historically black colleges and universities.

• And finally, $115 million to remain available for transfer to other federal agencies.

Double trouble

War hero John McCain will no doubt add his two cents' worth on the state of the U.S. military when he ducks into Harvard University tomorrow to discuss the presidential campaign he's no longer in.

The Republican senator from Arizona says his address to Harvard's Kennedy School will be titled "Campaign 2000: Straight Talk or Double Talk?"

Split personality

"The problem with Congress is we are Jeffersonians on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Hamiltonians on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays."

Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, referring last week to Thomas Jefferson and his calls to limit federal government by sharing power with the states, and Alexander Hamilton, who desired a strong centralized government.

Feast or famine

106th Congress, 2nd Session accomplishments, as judged by scrolling screen savers on computers used by reporters in the Senate Press Gallery:

January through September: "Hurry up and pass something… ."

October: "The Congress that would never die… ."

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