Thursday, November 8, 2001

Ackerman vs. Bush
If members of Congress disagree with the president, they should express it “in a way that’s not divisive,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, told the Hill newspaper.
Apparently that advice did not reach Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, New York Democrat, who is unhappy about the $3.2 billion in federal aid dispensed to New York City in the eight weeks since the terrorist attacks.
Congress has allocated $20 billion to help the city, and the administration says it will use about $9.5 billion of that by the end of December. But Mr. Ackerman and some other members of the New York congressional delegation think the money faucet should be wide open.
“To turn your back on New York in its time of greatest need is unconscionable,” Mr. Ackerman told reporter J.P. Cassidy. And when the reporter asked whether the headline on the story should resemble a famous 1976 front page of the New York Daily News, Mr. Ackerman offered this suggestion: “Bush to New York: ‘I’m with bin Laden.’”

Anti-tax Democrats
“Democratic victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections on Tuesday are, predictably, being characterized as proof that the era of big government is back,” Stephen Moore and Jeff Bell write at National Review Online (
“Political pundits are also suggesting that the tax-cutting message of the GOP, which was pay dirt for Republicans in the 1990s, is no longer appealing to the median 21st-century voter. Only people who paid zero attention to what was said in these two races could make that claim,” said Mr. Moore, president of the Club for Growth, and Mr. Bell, a former Senate candidate and a political analyst for the pro-tax-cut “club.”
“Surely the defeats of Bret Schundler in New Jersey and Mark Earley of Virginia are blows to conservatives. Both ran as strong anti-tax candidates. Both attacked the victorious Democrats (Mark Warner in Virginia and Jim McGreevey in New Jersey) for their secret plans to raise taxes. And both lost. But not because New Jersey and Virginia voters opted for a return to Democratic tax-and-spend policies.
“Just the opposite. One of the most remarkable features of these two races was that Warner and McGreevey both veered as far to the right on fiscal issues as Democrats are permitted to without entirely alienating the left-wing base of their party. They ran successful campaigns as Bill Clinton new Democrat fiscal conservatives eschewing the era of big government. They both pledged in their debates that they would not raise taxes to balance the state budget.”
The writers added: “The New Jersey and Virginia elections were a vindication, not a repudiation, of the power of fiscal-conservative values in America. When Democrats have to run as anti-tax advocates of fiscal restraint to win office, and when they have to distance themselves from the party’s tax-and-spend liberal roots, the battle for pro-growth economic policies is being won.”

“Americans will go to the polls a year from this week in the quaint belief that they will be electing a new Congress. But the real story is that nearly all of those races have already been decided by politicians in backrooms and long before anyone even votes,” the Wall Street Journal says.
“The reason is the bipartisan scandal known as redistricting, or more colorfully as the ‘gerrymander.’ That is the process by which state politicians sit down every 10 years to carve up congressional districts. This time they’re doing it with an even more blatant mix than usual of partisanship and incumbent protection. The result is that perhaps only 30 of 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will even be competitive next year,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
“The process is turning American democracy on its head. The House was supposed to be the legislative body closest to the people, the one built to reflect swift changes in the popular will. But nowadays the Senate is more open to popular opinion, despite six-year terms, because no one has yet figured out how to gerrymander an entire state.”
The newspaper added: “The sad truth is that incumbents and party hacks are using this year’s gerrymanders to fix next year’s elections in advance. It’s no consolation that this time around the smarter, more brazen hacks are Republicans.”

Message to media
Comedian and “Monday Night Football” commentator Dennis Miller, in an appearance Tuesday on NBC’s “Tonight” show, made fun of reporters who insist that the American public needs to know every possible detail of American military operations in Afghanistan, the Media Research Center reports.
As his appearance neared its end, Mr. Miller said: “You know if there’s one thing that I want to say before I leave here, Jay, I know we gotta wrap up. If the working press is listening out there, you always say that during this war it’s the public’s need to know about our ground forces being in there and stuff like that. They always put it on us. And I’m sitting at home and I’m always exasperating. And you never have the chance to say it, I don’t think many of us have a chance to say it and I want to say it to you tonight. We don’t want to know. OK? They’re young boys. It’s scary enough. Leave ‘em alone. Everybody say it: We don’t want to know.”
Mr. Miller then got the audience to join him in shouting, “We don’t want to know.”
Mr. Miller then sent this message to the Washington press corps: “OK, there ya go. Now next time you think that. No, it’s not for us; it’s for you and your cocktail chatter at parties in D.C. But we don’t want to know. Leave our boys alone over there. All right?”
That prompted loud applause from the NBC audience, the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes.

A painful sigh
“Roland Burris wants to be governor of Illinois. He’s leading the Democratic field in a recent Tribune poll. But the guy worries me,” Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass writes.
“My worries began when I took him to Gene & Georgetti the other day,” the columnist said.
“Gene’s is the famed steakhouse and hangout for political types and other entertaining insiders. All the regulars were fascinated.
“I’m not worried about Burris’ qualifications. He has been state comptroller and Illinois attorney general.
“He defeated the Republican front-runner, Attorney General Jim Ryan, the last time they ran against each other in a statewide race.
“What worries me is his behavior in an excellent steakhouse while other diners are discreetly watching to see what kind of governor he might be.
“The waiter appears.
“‘I’ll have a cranberry juice and spaghetti,’ Burris says.
“A painful sigh escaped from diners all across the room, and many grabbed their cell phones to report Burris’ behavior.
“They probably thought the Mormons had arrived, but at least he didn’t order lime Jell-O, which wasn’t available anyway.”

Interns wanted
The political science department at Columbia University recently posted the following e-mail notice, according to New Yorker writer Nick Paumgarten.
“Bill Clinton’s office, located at 55 West 125th Street, is seeking interns in its understaffed scheduling department. Intern will answer phones, take requests and follow through on such requests. Also will be responsible for light computer work and keeping track of calendar. Flexible days/hours. For consideration, please fax resume to: David Slade, Deputy Director of Scheduling.” One graduate student told the New Yorker that she considered applying for the internship until she heard that Mr. Clinton had recently snubbed Howard Stern at a benefit concert for terrorism victims. Now she is thinking about applying for an internship with Mr. Stern.

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