- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2001

Civil strife
When members and staff of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission are not busy propping up imaginary Democratic charges of voter disenfranchisement in Florida or denouncing Indian names for sports teams, they enjoy nothing more than picking fights with each other.
For example, here is a March 12 memo to staffers from General Counsel Edward A. Hailes Jr.: "In support of our new office policy for all attorney advisors to keep their doors wide open throughout the workday while they are in their offices, I am urging every staff member to avoid making noises that you know, or should know, may be distracting to your colleagues. For example, I have been told that members of the staff have been distracted from their work by slamming doors, excessive chatter and loud laughter in the suite."
Whew. Once those distracting noises are quelled, they can go on with the taxing job of restoring our civil rights.

Giulianis tax cuts

President Bush is not the only Republican trying to push through tax cuts opposed by Democrats. New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has proposed a $585 million package of tax reductions for his city, which is known as the nations capital when it comes to separating citizens from their earnings.
"If there arent sufficient tax cuts in the budget, then I will not be able to approve the budget," Mr. Giuliani declared Tuesday.
However, Council Speaker Peter Vallone, a Democrat who is running to succeed Mr. Giuliani as mayor, says he wants establish spending levels before considering any reductions in taxes.
"Giuliani aides are anticipating a brawl over the plan, the first major budget fight between the two sides of City Hall since 1998, when Vallone was running for governor," New York Post reporter Maggie Haberman writes.

Contingency plan

"A handful of Democratic leaders in New Jersey have begun to prepare a contingency plan in case they have to find another candidate" to replace Sen. Robert Torricelli, the New York Times reports.
Mr. Torricelli is under federal investigation in a case involving gifts from a contributor convicted of illegal fund-raising.
"Several senior Democrats in the state met Monday to discuss a possible replacement for Mr. Torricelli in next years election. They said they had asked United States Rep. Robert Menendez, a Democrat of Union County, to consider running. Mr. Menendez declined to comment ," reporters Raymond Hernandez and and Alison Mitchell write.
Mr. Torricelli passionately proclaimed his innocence Tuesday in a closed-door meeting with fellow Democratic senators, the reporters said.
"Democrats described Mr. Torricelli as characteristically forceful and defiant. And several Democrats said that at one moment, in an implicit reference to investigations faced by President Bill Clinton, he turned to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and said that she was the one who knew what his situation felt like."

Arnold says no

Arnold Schwarzenegger is opting out of the 2002 race to become Californias governor, saying his film career and family take precedence over politics.
"I have to be selfish at this point … and take care of those things," the 53-year-old actor told the Los Angeles Times. "The movie projects came together… . I have to keep up my end of the deal. Its not like it could have gone this way or that."
He said that he was not abandoning the idea of running for office as a Republican, but was only postponing his plunge into politics until his four children, ages 3 to 11, are older, the Times said yesterday.
Mr. Schwarzenegger, whose film credits include "Pumping Iron," "Total Recall" and "End of Days," has two film projects in the works. He said he will focus on finishing a sequel to "True Lies" and production will begin later this year on "Terminator 3."
Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones already has declared his candidacy and William E. Simon Jr., a Los Angeles investment banker, also is considering seeking the GOP nomination.
Incumbent Democrat Gray Davis, who likely will seek a second term, so far faces no serious threat from within his party.

Feingold, too

Sen. Russell D. Feingold, who was spotted in New Hampshire recently, does not rule out a run for the presidency in 2004. But in any case he hopes Democrats will choose a "progressive" as their standard-bearer, the Hill newspaper reports.
"Well, I have never said absolutely not," the Wisconsin Democrat told a constituent when asked whether he will run for the Oval Office. He said he is more inclined to seek re-election as a senator.
"I will tell you this: I want a progressive to run for president and New Hampshire is an important place, whoever that candidate is, and Im going to be involved in trying to elect a progressive Democrat," he said.
He said the "conservative Democratic approach" of recent years was a failure, and that "its time for us to have a more progressive Democratic Party."

Hillarys target

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has chosen what could be her first high-profile fight against the Bush administration.
The New York Democrat and former first lady announced Tuesday she will oppose President Bushs choice to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission, USA Today reports.
In an interview with reporters Kathy Kiely and Jayne ODonnell, Mrs. Clinton accused Mr. Bush of trying to "undermine the purpose of the commission" with his plan to nominate Mary Sheila Gall, a member of the commission for the 10 years who criticized many of the agencys policies.
"This is a political appointment. The manufacturers wanted a philosophical shift when it came to consumer product safety," Mrs. Clinton said.
Mrs. Clinton told the reporters she is afraid that child safety regulations enacted during her husbands administration would be overturned.

The coming meltdown

"Federal Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali couldnt do a worse job than Gov. Gray Davis of managing Californias power crisis if he were a North Korean agent. And he might just be the last man who can do anything to mitigate a summer of blackouts," Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes.
"The governors latest Potemkin initiative, a legislative bailout of the states No. 2 utility, Southern California Edison, is going nowhere. It has no legs. It doesnt even have stumps. Mr. Davis decided long ago to surrender to the electricity crisis. His only purpose is to spin himself as the victim of a disaster made by others," Mr. Jenkins said.
"The bailout agreement was thrown together in the hours after PG&Es; bankruptcy, and then merely to save Gov. Davis the ignominy of losing two utilities in one week. But the basic scheme (disguised as a state takeover of the power grid) had been the subject of desultory press releases for weeks. It was already clear the legislature had no stomach for the deal, and even clearer after Mr. Daviss expletive-filled lobbying trips last week. Meanwhile, real steps could yet be taken that would lessen the coming meltdown."

Still counting

While Al Gore has kept a low profile since losing the presidential election last year, there is one political subject that he finds irresistible, USA Today reports.
"Friends say he follows every detail of ballot recounts by news organizations in Florida," reporter Susan Page writes.In the doghouse
The White House has apparently given up hope that Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont Republican, might vote for its tax-cut and budget plans.

In what Vermonts other senator called a "petty" move, the White House did not invite Mr. Jeffords to a ceremony Monday honoring the Teacher of the Year.

The teacher, Michele Forman, is from Vermont and Mr. Jeffords is chairman of the Senates education committee. Mr. Jeffords voted early this month to reduce a proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut because he was unhappy about the amount of special-education funding.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat, also called the non-invite "short-sighted," adding "you have to be careful about punishing people in a 50-50 Senate."

"We were surprised that he wasnt invited," said Jeffords spokesman Erik Smulson. "But this story is about Michele Forman, not Senator Jeffords."

White House press aide Claire Buchan said yesterday that there were teachers from all 50 states at Mondays ceremony.

"To have invited that many members would have been 100 senators and 50 members of Congress," Miss Buchan said. "The focus was the teachers."

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