- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

Budget labor

It was a big week in the House, where members approved a federal budget that would allow $1.6 trillion or more in tax cuts over the next 10 years.

And as Rep. John M. Spratt Jr., South Carolina Democrat and ranking member of the House Budget Committee, pointed out, it isn't so much the congressmen who accomplish the arduous "labor" that goes into putting together a budget.

It's their staffs.

"We have one particular staffer that I want to recognize tonight," said Mr. Spratt, adding that when "working another night well past midnight, I looked at Sara Abernathy and I said, 'When are you due? … For goodness sake, get yourself home.' "

Sure enough, at 10:30 p.m. on Monday, March 26, a bouncing baby was born.

And what did Mrs. Abernathy deliver?

"It is a Democrat," Mr. Spratt announced.

Money doesn't pay

Most, if not all, senators on Capitol Hill are offended, quite frankly, at the suggestion that minus campaign finance reform they are not to be trusted.

"The idea that every time there is a dollar out there you change your vote is ridiculous," says Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican.

While Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, recalls how in 1907 Teddy Roosevelt got burned by revelations that Wall Street corporations had given millions of dollars to his 1904 campaign.

Of course, notes Mr. Schumer, one of Roosevelt's famous wealthy supporters, Henry Clay Frick, came to despise the president for his progressivism, saying: "We bought the S.O.B., but he didn't stay bought."

Confused country

Mary Ellen Bork, writer, lecturer and wife of former federal Judge Robert Bork, says the United States is in a "spiritual crisis."

As quoted by the Arlington Catholic Herald, Mrs. Bork told students of Christendom College: "The dominant culture of the world tolerates divorce, lying even by presidents, violence even by children, vulgarity in manner and music and dress.

"Hostility toward religion forbids the Ten Commandments to be posted in schools, and bristles at prayer before high school football games. Culture, which is the human environment in which we live our lives, is influenced more by the economy and technology than the more humanistic standards that used to guide it and is becoming more confused."

Allegiance and more

Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, was allowed the honor of leading lawmakers in the Pledge of Allegiance this week, only to remain put at the lectern to blast the Bush administration for ignoring the "economic disaster" he says is spreading to every resident, school, business and local government in his district.

California's electricity crisis, in other words, which the congressman warns will spread throughout the entire nation, making the current downturn in the stock market "pale by comparison."

Disaster preparation

James Lee Witt, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is opening his own international emergency and crisis management firm.

The former Clinton Cabinet member says the primary goal of James Lee Witt Associates is to provide the most comprehensive and innovative solutions internationally to corporations and communities to minimize disaster losses.

"With the United States spending billions in disaster recovery each and every year, it is time to cut economic-disaster losses," Mr. Witt explains, adding "whatever the cause global climate change or natural variation there is no denying that weather extremes are becoming much more costly."

New York nests

You never know what you'll find in Harper's Index, as demonstrated by this unusual fact culled from the April index:

"Blocks separating Monica Lewinsky's apartment from Bill Clinton's Harlem office: 135."

Stork market

While their cohorts are making big bread,

Staying childless and planning ahead;

Folks with families of four,

Five, six, seven, or more

Are investing in children instead.

F.R. Duplantier

Politics aside

"Nothin' but net, Mr. Speaker. Fear the turtle!"

Advisory issued on the House floor by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, whose University of Maryland Terrapins tomorrow night face the Duke University Blue Devils in the final four of the NCAA's March Madness.

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