- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

More high jinks
"For several weeks, the Democrats have been making hay over New Mexico Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl's voluntary admission that he had approached leaders of the state's Green Party on behalf of an unidentified donor from Washington who offered to assist the Greens to the tune of more than $100,000 if they would field candidates in the state's 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts.
Viable campaigns to the left of the Democrats in those districts would, ultimately, be of almost certain benefit to the Republicans who already hold these marginal seats," United Press International notes in its Capital Comment column.
"Now it appears the Democrats may have some explaining of their own to do. According to sources in Minnesota, a registered lobbyist for the Minnesota Sierra Club, the state offshoot of the liberal national environmental group, has filed for Congress as the 'No New Taxes Party' candidate in the new 2nd Congressional District. Samuel Garst, who has previously run for the Minnesota state House and the state Senate as a Democrat, has entered the congressional race under a banner likely to siphon off conservative votes from Republican John Kline," the wire service said.
"Kline is running against 4-term incumbent Democrat Bill Luther who, most analysts agree, is one of the five most endangered members of Congress in either party where the chances of re-election are concerned. The Republicans are now demanding an explanation about the maneuver in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as Garst has been a Luther campaign contributor and because the Sierra Club, for whom Garst is a lobbyist, has been running ads that have been to Luther's benefit."

Judges get an earful
The two appeals court judges behind the ruling declaring the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional have been targeted by demonstrators surrounding the courthouse and a plane flashing a banner that reads "One Nation Under God," the Associated Press reports.
"It's the noisiest thing I've ever experienced," said Alfred T. Goodwin, who issued the ruling June 26 with Stephen Reinhardt, a fellow judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"I think it's a bit excessive," said Judge Reinhardt, who was at his office Saturday when he heard about the plane flying over his home.
Judge Reinhardt and Judge Goodwin said politics, notably the upcoming congressional elections, are fueling the flap.
"I can't think of any decision where the entire Congress immediately rushes to condemn a decision by the court," Judge Reinhardt said. "It's getting to be election time and this gives everyone in Congress a chance to prove they are patriotic."
The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a California atheist, Michael Newdow, who did not want his second-grade daughter to be forced to listen to the words "under God."
President Bush has criticized the ruling, and Attorney General John Ashcroft has said the government will join the Elk Grove, Calif., school board in asking for a new hearing before an 11-judge panel.
Judge Goodwin and Judge Reinhardt attended the 9th Circuit's annual conference this week. The dissenting judge on the Pledge decision, Ferdinand Fernandez, did not attend. The gathering of the nation's largest circuit court drew hundreds of jurists.
In a tense moment at the start of the four-day conference, U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan of Eugene, Ore., performed a naturalization ceremony, then led several hundred people including many judges in reciting the Pledge.
"One of the things that's great about our country is that we can disagree and still respect one another," Judge Hogan said. He told those gathered to say "whatever words are appropriate." There was no change in volume when the words "under God" were spoken.

On the defensive
"While polling has not yet recorded a dramatic turn in public opinion against President Bush or the GOP, events of the past few weeks have substantially increased the likelihood that the 2002 midterm elections will resemble other midterms, when the president's party is on the defensive and suffers losses," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.
"None of the individual business scandals or controversies surrounding Harken Energy or Halliburton alone would have been enough to damage the White House seriously. Enron had little or no partisan political fallout, though Democrats tried their best to demonize business and to connect the president and his party to the company's demise," Mr. Rothenberg said.
"But taken together, the recent rash of bad news including a sinking stock market, concern about the economy's recovery, the demise of WorldCom and Arthur Andersen, and questions about administration officials' past business practices is much more likely to affect public opinion about the president."

Ventura returns
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura went back to work and back to his tight-lipped treatment of reporters after a hospital stay for a blood clot in his lung.
Mr. Ventura had nothing to say as he strode past reporters, up a flight of stairs and into his office Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
The governor had been away from the Capitol for more than a week and spent four days in the hospital.
Accompanied by a few security guards and first lady Terry Ventura, the governor walked at his regular pace and didn't show any signs of the pain that had sidelined him. He was dressed comfortably in khaki slacks and a short-sleeve, button-down shirt.
Mr. Ventura visited a doctor on Tuesday, but aides offered no more details about his medical condition. He celebrated his 51st birthday at his Maple Grove ranch on Monday.

Forget it
"It seemed like a good idea at the time. But the more we look at the hash Washington is making of President Bush's proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security, the more we think he'd be wiser to call the whole thing off," the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.
"Consider the president's request that the department have transfer authority over even just 5 percent of its budget to be able to act quickly to address terror threats as they emerge. Both the leading Republican and Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee are outraged. The proposal is 'overly broad and unprecedented,' proclaims [Republican] Chairman C.W. Bill Young. It would give the new department 'a totally free hand,' cries Democrat David Obey. Forgive us for thinking that Osama bin Laden is a bigger threat than letting the commander-in-chief decide how to spend a fraction of his anti-terrorism budget."

It's back to the doghouse for one aspiring House candidate.
Florida state election officials refused to qualify Percy, a 5-year-old border collie mix, as a rival to Secretary of State Katherine Harris in her bid for Congress, the Associated Press reports.
Percy barked loudly when veteran elections official Ed Kast told the dog's owner, Wayne Genthner, his dog didn't meet the state's elections requirements.
"He's a canine and, therefore, not a qualified elector," Mr. Kast said.
Mr. Genthner, a Republican, then decided that he himself would run as a write-in candidate. The 42-year-old chartered-boat captain said he was frustrated with highly financed, sterile campaigns that avoid meaningful debate.
"People are almost disdainful of the political system as it is now," Mr. Genthner said. "Percy exists to me as a binding none-of-the-above ballot selection."
Percy and his volunteer campaign staff had been handing out fliers with slogans such as, "Never made a mess in the House. Never will." and "PERCY. Putting the LICK back into Republican."
Mrs. Harris, who drew worldwide attention in her role as Florida's chief elections officer during the 2000 presidential recount, is a heavy favorite to win the race.

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