- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Conflicts of interest
The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a preliminary inquiry into whether energy consultants advising California Gov. Gray Davis used inside information to trade stocks of power companies doing business with the state, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing "a source with knowledge of the matter."
"The federal agency began its review late last week, the source said, in response to a request from California Secretary of State Bill Jones. A Republican rival of Mr. Davis, Mr. Jones charged that stock trading by consultants may have violated federal laws barring buying and selling based on information not available to the public," the newspaper said.
"In his written request to the SEC, Jones said that recently filed disclosure documents showed that at least one consultant bought and sold shares of two energy companies within the same month, raising a 'red flag' about the possibility of insider trading."
Anonymous "top aides" to the Democratic governor told the newspaper last week that Mr. Davis had fired five of his private consultants for possible conflicts of interest.

NOW's new slogan
The National Organization for Women, which once insisted that "women don't lie," apparently has changed its slogan to "accused rapists don't lie," at least if they are politicians who agree with NOW's far-left agenda.
No, we're not talking about Bill Clinton, even though NOW's national leadership continued to swoon over him even after a woman came forward to accuse him of raping her when he was Arkansas attorney general. This time it's William Kennedy Smith, the nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. In 1991, a woman accused Mr. Smith of raping her, but a jury decided otherwise. Now Mr. Smith is reported to be considering a run for Congress from Chicago.
"Michelle Dewlen, president of the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, says Smith would have to advocate women's issues to succeed," USA Today reports.

'Lower the rhetoric'
Robert Johnson, founder and CEO of Black Entertainment Television, is calling on Democrats to quit bashing President Bush's Social Security commission, of which he is a member.
"I would encourage my fellow Democrats to lower the rhetoric and stop the kill-the-messenger strategy, and focus on trying to address a very serious problem that will not go away simply by calling out names and trying to hide in the sand," Mr. Johnson said last week at the commission's meeting to approve an interim report.
"The money will not be there to pay the full benefits that people expect if we don't fix the Social Security problem, despite what Democrats say. I think it's irresponsible for them to say that" no changes are needed, he said.

A travel probe
A special review committee has been created to investigate Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris' $3.4 million travel bills, the St. Petersburg Times reported yesterday.
Spokesman David Host told the newspaper that Mrs. Harris welcomes the examination. He would not comment further.
Mrs. Harris, a Republican who is considering a run for Congress in 2002, was condemned by Democrats and praised by Republicans last year for her handling of the presidential recount.
During her first 22 months in office, Mrs. Harris amassed more than $106,000 in travel bills, more than any Cabinet officer or the governor. The international-relations budget rose $783,000 in 1999 to $3.4 million in 2000-2001 and remained the same in the current-year budget.
Mrs. Harris has defended her international travel and the focus of her office on it in frequent speeches citing the importance of international relations to the state's economy.

Old-friends week
"Monday's 'Good Morning America' made the odd ethical judgment that instead of having Diane Sawyer handle the subject [of Bill Clinton's office-opening in Harlem], they would allow former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos, the substitute co-host of the show, interview current Clinton spinner Joe Lockhart, who orchestrated the PR for Clinton's office opening. But Stephanopoulos wasn't the ABC reporter who gushed the most over Bill Clinton," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes.
"Before the interview, Robin Roberts checked in from Harlem to preview the upcoming celebration. She maintained that there are two Bill Clintons, 'the one who loves glamour, the one who wants to make the world a better place.' How nice. Where's the mean, dishonest and disreputable Clinton? Later, she raved: 'Today, by public relations design, he becomes an honorary homeboy.' That gush led into another from Clinton's former chief of staff, John Podesta, who exulted: 'He's a person who always is thinking about tomorrow.'
"Stephanopoulos naturally didn't ask any tough questions, instead starting by worrying about how Clinton's mood during the pardon controversy 'was even darker than it had been during the height of the impeachment scandal.'"

Vote counters
Campaign-finance reformers are planning to use the August recess to convince members to sign a petition to bring their bill to the floor of the House for a vote.
Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican and one of the chief sponsors of the proposal, said he will work up a list of Republicans who have supported campaign-finance reform in the past or in whose districts reform could be a popular issue, and he'll spend the recess trying to help those constituents let their representatives know they care about it.
On Monday, the Blue Dog Democrats filed a petition to bring the bill, which is stagnant in committee, to the full House for a floor vote. Within 24 hours, they already had 178 of the 218 signatures required to force the vote, which they hope will take place in September. Most Democrats are expected to sign the petition and Mr. Shays says he hopes to have 18 Republicans sign before the recess begins at the end of this week.
In 1998 and 1999, it took the threat of successful petitions to spur a floor vote on reform. Both times the bills passed, only to die in the Senate.

Veterans' benefits
The House voted Tuesday to expand the list of service-connected illnesses for Vietnam and Persian Gulf veterans and approve a cost-of-living increase for veterans' benefits.
The legislation, passed 422-0, adds Type II diabetes to the list of diseases presumed to be service-connected in Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides.
It also, as of next April, adds chronic fatigue syndrome; fibromyalgia, a painful disease of the connective tissue; and chronic multi-symptom illness to the list of undiagnosed diseases that can qualify a veteran of the 1991 Gulf war for compensation.
"There are thousands of veterans, who bravely served during the Gulf war, today suffering from undiagnosed illnesses deserving of compensation," New Jersey Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith, chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, told the Associated Press.
Mr. Smith, the sponsor, said the bill would also extend the period for providing compensation to Persian Gulf veterans to Dec. 31, 2003, so that newly eligible veterans have time to have their claims considered. The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration.

Rampant racism
"Courtland Milloy's column in Monday's paper titled 'Colin Powell: Bush Man or Black Man' is a good example of the institutional racism at The Washington Post. This is the second racist column in a month written by a black staffer," conservative pundit David Horowitz writes at frontpagemag.com.
"It suggests that Secretary of State Colin Powell is somehow not 'black,' since he has failed to support the U.N. World Conference Against Racism with sufficient enthusiasm," Mr. Horowitz said.

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