- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2001

Freedom of assembly

Some bureaucrats are up in arms over word that the Rev. Al Sharpton has been invited to deliver an address at Labor Department headquarters this week.

"The union membership strongly voted it down, but the union [leadership] said he is coming anyway. That's the way the union works," says our union source in Labor. Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees tentatively has scheduled Mr. Sharpton's appearance for 11 a.m. Wednesday.

No word on the Sharpton visit from newly confirmed Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who made an appearance before a similar union gathering at Labor headquarters on Thursday.

"He won't get the reception she did," our source says of the black activist and labor secretary. "She got two standing ovations."

It was Mr. Sharpton who issued a warning in the wake of President Bush's election that "this can end up as a black-and-white issue," referring to charges that blacks were kept away from the polls in Florida.

Mr. Sharpton later led a "shadow inauguration" on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, calling on participants to take a vow to uphold the Voting Rights Act, which he felt was abridged during the presidential election.

Heard enough

Two attractive young women are waiting in line at Rowland's, a Capitol Hill grocery store frequented by congressional staffers, eying a stack of newspapers headlining a story about Hugh Rodham, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's brother, and his $400,000 fee to lobby for two presidential pardons.

Tapping vigorously on the headline, one woman explains out loud to the other: "That's why I am no longer an apologist."

Tired of jokes

"Finally, let me note my motivation for filing this complaint. I am a solo practitioner tired of hearing jokes, criticisms and complaints about the practice of law. Most of all, I take my ethical obligations seriously. My license and reputation are all I have to support myself … but I simply feel that when the unethical conduct of those admitted to the bar dominate national headlines month after month, year after year, our system is harmed. When the same unethical conduct goes unpunished, month after month, year after year, the system itself is jeopardized."

Part of a formal ethics complaint filed by Washington-area lawyer J. Christian Adams against Hugh Rodham, brother of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, accusing him of violating provisions of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar in his role as pardon attorney for Carlos Vignali and Almon Glenn Braswell.

Last-minute legacy

A magazine cover depicting President Bush as Harry Houdini, bound in chains and red tape and struggling to free himself from the shackles of President Clinton's regulatory legacy, is about to land on the desks of 60,000 high-level bureaucrats in the federal government.

The cover story in the monthly Government Executive magazine, titled "Escape Artist," focuses on the likely fate of more than 25,000 pages of new rules sent to the Federal Register in the last few months of the Clinton administration.

The Clinton executive orders and assorted rules fence off 5.6 million acres of Western lands as federal monuments, ban road construction in 60 million acres of national forests, require businesses to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries, create new medical privacy rights and, if that's not enough, force Americans to stop using top-loading washing machines in favor of more expensive front-loading models within seven years.

No peace left

"I hate those people who bring their cellular phone."

Brookings Institution Vice President Ron Nessen, former spokesman to President Ford, upon being interrupted by the ringing of a cellular telephone at the opening of last week's forum on "Iraq and America: Ten Years After Desert Storm."

Pinch me

We heard from Beltway reader Lawrence A. "Buck" Cohagan Sr., of Atmore, Ala., the tale of a man who goes to the White House and asks to see President Clinton. The Marine standing guard replies that Mr. Clinton is no longer the president, so the man leaves.

The next day the same man goes back to the White House and asks to see President Clinton. The Marine repeats that Mr. Clinton isn't president, and asks the man to please go away.

The man returns to the White House the following day, where the same Marine is on duty, and asks to see President Clinton.

"Why do you keep coming here asking for him?" the Marine wonders. "Clinton is not the president anymore."

The man smiles and says, "I know, I just like hearing it."

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