- The Washington Times - Friday, December 27, 2002

The Murray whitewash

"Sen. Patty Murray's outrageous comments extolling Osama bin Laden as a humanitarian continue to draw mostly silence from the national media," James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.opinionjournal.com.

"Blogger Robert Musil notes that a piece by Adam Nagourney in [yesterdays] New York Times discusses Democrats who 'are beginning to challenge President Bush's record on terrorism' but makes no mention of Murray. Indeed, a Factiva search turns up no mention of Murray at all since she made the speech," Mr. Taranto said.

"Those who're skeptical of liberal media bias should ponder this hypothetical: Suppose that during President Clinton's Kosovo war, a Republican congressman had sung the praises of 'great humanitarian' Slobodan Milosevic. Is it even imaginable that the Times would omit such a comment in an article on GOP critics of the war let alone that the paper would ignore it altogether?"

Mr. Taranto added: "The Murray whitewash may prove to be an example of how liberal media bias helps Republicans. Murray probably feels vindicated, having won the support of her hometown paper [the Seattle Times] and escaped criticism in most of the national press. Thus, she doesn't appear to have done anything to make amends. If she runs for re-election in 2004, this will be a big problem for her. WorldNetDaily reports that her comments have 'generated an Internet and talk-radio firestorm,' especially in Washington state. Two years from now, Murray's voters will know what she said about Osama bin Laden even if most people elsewhere don't."


Tough-dove party

"It's too early to speak with any confidence about the fate of individual [presidential] candidacies, but not too early to speak about what Democratic voters are looking for," Harold Meyerson writes in the American Prospect, a magazine that strives to be the voice of liberalism.

"They want a candidate with serious national security bona fides, a sober and aggressive approach to deterring terrorism. They want a candidate who backs the global rule of law, who opposes the pre-emptive unilateralism of the administration and its diversionary, reckless war with Iraq.

"They want a candidate with an economic policy that helps working-class, middle-class and poor Americans, that scales back the power of corporations so that they are no longer a law unto themselves. They want real national health insurance, and with Gore out of the race [outgoing Vermont Gov. Howard] Dean will not long have this issue to himself," Mr. Meyerson said.

"By these standards, it's clear why John Kerry may have a bit of a jump on the rest of the field. His Vietnam medals and his early leadership of Viet Vets Against the War strike just the right balance for the tough-dove party the Democrats are becoming. Kerry's problem is that he's more a liberal than a populist: tough on Wall Street when the situation demands it, but awkward on (if not alien to) Main Street."


Bon voyage

Former President George Bush and his son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush embarked yesterday on a three-night holiday cruise with family and security agents, undeterred by the recent outbreak of stomach viruses that have sickened some cruise passengers.

The family, including the Bush wives, joined about 2,500 other passengers aboard the Disney Wonder, its stern adorned with a figure of Donald Duck dangling from a rope.

"This is a personal, family vacation, a much-deserved and needed one," said Katie Muniz, the governor's spokeswoman.

The ship left Port Canaveral, bound for the Bahamas under blue skies and an unusually chilly wind, the Associated Press reports.

Jeb Bush has said he was undeterred by the outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into more than 20 outbreaks on cruise lines, more than it has seen in the four previous years combined. The agency considers an outbreak to be 3 percent or more of a ship's passengers or crew members getting an illness.

"I'm not worried at all about the health issue. I'm more worried about just being on a boat, getting along without e-mail and stuff," he said with a laugh last week.

The ship, which is about the length of three football fields with 875 staterooms, has stops in Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. It returns Sunday morning.


A foe for Feingold

"GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, the 32-year-old political 'wunderkind' who just a few years ago was a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill, is being talked about seriously for the party's nomination to run against Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold in November 2004," United Press International reports.

"Ryan is a favorite of the pro-growth wing of the GOP that is known for putting many thousands of dollars into races behind favored candidates. Feingold, one of the two chief Senate sponsors of the now-passed campaign-finance reform legislation, eked out a 40,000-vote victory in 1998 and is thought by some to be equally vulnerable in the coming election," the wire service said in its Capital Comment column.


The payroll tax

"Bush should start with a shrewd response to the calls from Democrats to cut the payroll tax," National Review says in an editorial.

"The various Democratic proposals are flawed; they are for temporary reductions, aimed at only the first $10,000 or so of income. One of the chief benefits of cutting the payroll tax is that it will encourage employers to hire but only if the reductions are permanent," the magazine said.

"Also, exempting a portion of earnings introduces a progressive element to a rate that's been fixed and opens up the possibility that Democrats may try to raise the cap on taxable income, which is simply a tax increase. But the Bush administration should allow that the Democrats are on to something in general, and push Congress toward a permanent 1 percent reduction in the payroll tax.

"This tax cut for workers, combined with a package of tax cuts on investment, would make for a politically attractive, economically sound program, one that would give his new team a running start."


Putting it in English

Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network based in Qatar, plans to open an English-language Web site in coming months and begin distributing English-language news programming by satellite and cable late next year, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

The network, notorious for broadcasting the statements of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda colleagues, says it now has about 135,000 subscribers in the United States.

"Since it began broadcasting in 1996, Al Jazeera has brought unprecedented Arabic-language journalistic scrutiny to the regimes of the Middle East," reporter Cameron W. Barr writes. "Now its executives and journalists say they want to provide English speakers in the United States and elsewhere with more accurate and informed reporting about the world's most turbulent region."

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