- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

Overlooked poll
The political storm triggered by Senate Republican leader Trent Lott's remarks about Strom Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrat candidacy occurred at a time when a growing number of black voters are no longer identifying with the Democratic Party.
A little-noticed national survey of black voters by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, released a few weeks before the Nov. 5 elections, found that "there has been a noteworthy change in black partisan identification" away from the Democrats since the 2000 elections.
"In 2002, 63 percent of African Americans were self-identified Democrats (down from 74 percent in 2000), 24 percent were self-identified Independents (up from 20 percent in 2000), and 10 percent were self-identified Republicans (up from four percent in 2000)," the poll found.

Overlooked lawsuit
"The woman at the center of a vote-fraud investigation in South Dakota says the state attorney general is ignoring evidence of other improprieties during the election," Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Democratic activist Becky Red Earth is suspected of falsifying hundreds of absentee ballot applications before last month's vote. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court against attorney general Mark Barnett, she charges that Barnett has 'improperly singled [her] out, notwithstanding hard evidence of substantial voting improprieties at actual polling places during actual voting which has been ignored by [Barnett].'
"The lawsuit also charges that other people were involved in the improprieties. Saying that she is 'on the lowest rung of the ladder,' Red Earth says, 'It is expected that an evidentiary hearing will "flesh out" the selective nature of [Barnetts] choice to single out [Red Earth] to the exclusion of others both higher on the ladder and involved in improprieties during the actual election.'
"Red Earth goes on to allege that Barnett was 'well aware that [Red Earth] was operating on orders from her superiors and that she specifically denied any intent to defraud anyone.' She asks the U.S. District Court in the Southern Division of South Dakota to bar Barnett from taking any action against her," Mr. York said.
"The lawsuit appears to refer to allegations of vote buying, absentee ballot fraud, illegal electioneering, improper voter identification, and other issues raised by Republicans in the aftermath of Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson's 524-vote victory of GOP challenger John Thune. Many of those allegations are contained in more than 40 affidavits from Republican poll watchers, along with interviews with Republican and Democratic election officials, which are featured in the current issue of National Review.
"The Red Earth lawsuit charges that in recent statements, Barnett has 'portrayed indifference to allegations of impropriety at the polls during the actual election of November 5, 2002, saying that sometime in the future he would appoint an investigator to look into allegations of vote buying, and apparently had nothing to say or do about allegations of improper voter identifications and improper opening of polling places.'"

OMB's new system
"Budget bosses throughout government have a few choice words for the latest bid by the Office of Management and Budget to make agencies justify funding increases," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"OMB Director Mitch Daniels, who last year instituted a signal-light system to identify good, bad, and middling programs, is this year requiring 20 percent of all federal programs to prove their worth. It took OMB dozens of pages to explain its new 'program assessment rating tool,' or PART, but it boils down to this: What works gets funded. Do better to get more. That may sound like a big duh to the rest of us, but not in government. 'How much,' says Daniels, 'is the question asked, instead of "How well."'
"Many in government, used to regular, unquestioned increases, hate it. Some even think it's an insult. But Daniels, set to release the 2004 budget in a month or so, is sticking with his promise to make government run more like a business. He told agency budget czars to approach their jobs as parents do allowances. 'Most children seeking an allowance from their parents,' he says, 'know that they will be doing chores in return.'"

Spineless corporations
"Pity the plight of corporate California," state Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel writes in the Orange County Register.
"Dismayed at the stranglehold anti-business liberals have on the state government, two leading business organizations the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business Roundtable intend to qualify a ballot initiative to create a nonpartisan runoff election system modeled on the one used by that hotbed of progressivism and good government, Louisiana. They believe this scheme will increase the number of moderate legislators who will be more sympathetic to their concerns," the Republican official said.
"Normally, my instinct is to support the business community against liberal politicians who poison the economic environment against growth and job creation. But normally, the business community wouldn't pay to elect the liberal politicians who see them as revenue cows to be milked.
"After Gray Davis became governor, the corporate community threw its collective spine out the window and poured millions into Democratic coffers, helping Davis amass the $70 million war chest that bought him a second term.
"The protection money worked until the energy and budget crises so damaged Davis' re-election prospects that he sold his soul to the left and began signing anti-business bills as quickly as the liberal-controlled Legislature could put them on his desk.
"Business leaders shouldn't have been surprised: When the chips are down, Democrats will always favor the interests of unions, trial lawyers and environmentalists over those of business."

Comedian Gore
Former Vice President Al Gore tried to loosen up in an appearance over the weekend on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."
In his opening monologue, he planted a two-minute-long kiss on his wife, Tipper, releasing her from lip lock only after cast members used small stun guns to prod him into submission.
The skit was meant to poke fun at the couple's long some felt staged buss on the stage of the Democratic National Convention during the 2000 presidential campaign.
Another sketch showed a wistful Gore visiting the set of the television show "The West Wing."
In that skit, Mr. Gore is shown unable to pull himself from the faux Oval Office although he knows it is just a faithful reproduction of the real presidential office having finally attained his lifelong goal of reaching the pinnacle of political power.

Keeper of the Flame
"Retiring U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, was presented with the prestigious Keeper of the Flame Award for his commitment to protecting and strengthening U.S. national and homeland security during his tenure in the Senate," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"At a luncheon Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel, Thompson told a crowd of more than 100 people that he did not intend to leave Washington permanently. 'I'm not gone forever. My little job only takes a couple of days a week,' he said, referring to his new role as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's long-running hit series, 'Law and Order.'
"Thompson told the gathering that all the attention 'West Wing's' Martin Sheen and other Hollywood actors have received over the past few days as a result of their letter to President George W. Bush opposing war with Iraq made him 'look forward to getting back into the [entertainment] industry so people will start taking my views seriously again.'"

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