- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

'Fool from the East'
"Has celebrity environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. taken leave of his senses, or did he ever have any to begin with?" asks Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and editor of Overlawyered.com.
"The question arises, given the furor that has broken out in Iowa after Kennedy flew in to inform state residents that as the Des Moines Register last week quoted him as saying 'large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.'
"Kennedy offered that bizarre comparison at an April 5 rally on hog-farm issues in Clear Lake, Iowa, sponsored by his Waterkeeper Alliance. The White Plains [N.Y.]-based alliance, which benefits mightily from the visibility of Kennedy's name, has been pushing a nationwide campaign against large animal-raising operations, teamed up with wealthy trial lawyers to pursue massive lawsuits against pork, chicken and beef producers for their alleged environmental sins," Mr. Olson said in an opinion piece in the New York Post.
"With all the adoring press coverage he gets in his back yard, Kennedy may have had no idea how his remarks would go over in a Midwestern state that prides itself on both patriotism and pork production."
For example, Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen referred to Mr. Kennedy as "this fool from the East."

Special-interest group
"Funny how things work in Washington," the Prowler column says at www.americanprowler.org.
"Common Cause, one of the greatest opponents of special-interest fund-raising and influence in the nation's capital, is putting pressure on its state organizations to raise more dollars to support its fight against fund-raising and influence-peddling. And if the state organizations don't pay up? 'They shut us down,' says a former Common Cause volunteer in Virginia, where that state's CC office was shuttered last year after it couldn't meet the national organization's minimum fund-raising goals. 'I got involved, my friends got involved in Common Cause because we believed that money was destroying our democracy. My Dad's a Republican. He told me I was being naive. And he was right. Common Cause is no better than the Republicans and Democrats they claim are the problems.'
"According to insiders in Common Cause's national office, several state operations are having trouble raising money, including Texas and Nevada. State offices are expected to raise money to support many of their operations. The national office, in turn, provides additional funds to round out the state program budget. 'But most of us can't do what we're expected to do without support from Washington,' says the former Common Cause volunteer.
"Perhaps most interesting, Common Cause doesn't seem to discriminate over who actually helps foot the bill for their state offices, which are encouraged to seek money from area nonprofit foundations, wealthy individuals, even small businesses and area companies. 'Part of what we promise [donors] is that they will be given a voice in Washington and in our state capitals,' says a Common Cause staffer in California. 'In a lot of ways, we're lobbying for money the same way the special interests lobby.'"

New leadership
A group of centrist House Democrats known as the New Democrat Coalition announced leadership changes yesterday, with three new co-chairmen and a newly formed steering committee.
The group will be headed by Reps. Jim Davis of Florida, Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Adam Smith of Washington. They were handed the reins by the founders and outgoing co-chairmen of the 74-member group, Reps. Cal Dooley of California, James P. Moran of Virginia and Tim Roemer of Indiana.
The group says it is pro-business, pro-growth and fiscally conservative, seeking innovative "third ways" to get things done.
Mr. Smith said Democrats "have to learn how to harness the power of both the private sector and the government to offer citizens the best quality of life possible."
Mr. Roemer said he and the other two founders thought it was time for new leadership in order to bring new ideas and energy.
He said they interviewed members who were interested in leading and then selected the three, before the full group voted on them.
Mr. Roemer said the group is the future of the Democratic Party and that most seats Democrats have picked up in recent years have been won by centrists in the party.
"I think a moderate Democratic Party is what we need to become the majority in Congress again," said California Rep. Jane Harman, who will serve as president of the group's new steering committee, designed to guide policy decisions and build relationships with the rest of the Democratic Party.

Democrats' complaint
"Usually, it is the GOP that complains that their press coverage is unfair and biased toward the opposite point of view. In an unusual move, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, have written to the heads of CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel complaining about the way the three cable news channels are covering Democrats on Capitol Hill," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"'We are writing to bring to your attention an issue that has become more pronounced in recent months: the lack of television coverage of press events featuring elected leaders of the Democratic Party,' the letter begins.
"Claiming 'The statistics we have demonstrate this disparity,' the two Democrats complain that administration officials were covered live on CNN 157 times while Democrats were only covered seven times over an approximately four-month period. The two men also say, 'Anecdotal evidence indicates that Fox News and MSNBC coverage follows the same pattern.'
"They close by telling Fox's Roger Ailes, MSNBC's Erik Sorenson and CNN's Walter Isaacson that they 'Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue.' So do a lot of other people."

European opinion
Europeans have a better opinion of President Bush now than they did before the terrorist attacks on this country, according to polls in four countries. But they generally oppose his policies on steel tariffs and think the United States has not done enough to bring about peace in the Middle East.
The president's popularity has risen among Europeans owing to their broad support for the administration's anti-terror efforts in Afghanistan, which get majority backing in Britain, France, Germany and Italy. While approval for the president's international policies was one-third in France and Germany and about evenly split in Italy and Britain, that had doubled from a similar poll taken in August.
"There's broad support for the war in Afghanistan, even though Europeans do not think we have listened enough to their point of view," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which conducted the surveys. "They're almost as worried about a terrorist attack in their countries as we are."
Europeans overwhelmingly approved of the U.S. decision to increase foreign aid to poor countries, while that decision was approved by half of Americans, the polls suggested.
The survey is based on roughly 1,000 telephone interviews with residents in each of the four European nations polled, as well as a separate poll that included 1,362 interviews in the United States. The polls, conducted in early April, have an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The survey was done in partnership with the International Herald Tribune and in association with the Council on Foreign Relations.

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