- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Freak contributions

"Honestly, I don't know who should be more embarrassed: Jerry Springer, for associating himself with the most ethically-challenged senator in Washington, or Robert Torricelli, for taking campaign cash from a man who's best known for his borderline-pornographic-definitely-sleazy-freak-show television program a program that has brought such classic episodes as 'I'm Pregnant by a Transsexual,' 'I'm a Breeder for the Klan,' and 'Honey, I'm Really a Guy!' into American living rooms."

Bill Pascoe, campaign manager for Republican Senate candidate Doug Forrester, responding to the revelation that Jerry Springer has donated $10,000 to embattled New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli's campaign.

Mandatory raise

Among the congressmen voting to reject their annual congressional cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is Rep. Robin Hayes, North Carolina Republican, who says he doesn't deserve a pay increase at a time when so many American workers are struggling in their local economies.

"At a time when rural economies across the nation are struggling, I believe it is inappropriate to support a measure that, in effect, increases congressional pay," says Mr. Hayes, a two-term congressman who still owns a hosiery mill in North Carolina.

Under law, an elected member must accept a pay increase or COLA if it is approved by Congress. So Mr. Hayes says he will be donating his 3.1 percent COLA (this year it increases a member's base salary by $4,900, to nearly $150,000) to charity.

Illegally ill

There was considerable reaction when we wrote recently of birthright citizenship and the related phenomenon dubbed "anchor babies."

(The United States grants automatic citizenship to babies born in this country to illegal aliens, temporary workers, even tourists. These babies can eventually "anchor" their extended families in the United States, thus precipitating an unlimited number of "chain immigrants" with the right to immigrate).

Now, due in large part to September 11 and the resulting closer examination of U.S. immigration policy, Congress finds that illegal aliens have been flooding the nation's hospitals.

This week, Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, announced that the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, agreed to his request to study the financial burden of illegal aliens on the hospital system.

"The parasitic effects on our health care system must be inoculated immediately," Mr. Foley said. "The world must realize that, while we gladly accept its tired, poor and huddled masses, we also have rules that govern their entrance."

Spiritual awakening

A unique and diverse group of Washington VIP's White House staff, members of Congress, filmmakers, art leaders and social entrepreneurs will file into the Corcoran Gallery of Art this evening for a private screening of 10 short "spiritual" films from the Damah Film Festival, which has touched a cultural nerve since September 11.

The Damah is receiving international attention as an emerging spiritual film festival and seeks short films "that share raw, truthful moments of spiritual redemption, struggle, inspiration and surprise."

Each film is less than 30 minutes long, and they come from a wide range of spiritual traditions and understandings, attracting filmmakers from all over the world who are seeking to express a transcendent view of human life. This year, Damah received 243 short-film submissions from eight countries, ranging from first-time filmmakers to professionals.

The films were judged by prominent Hollywood jurors such as Tom Shadyac ("Dragonfly," "Patch Adams" and "Liar Liar"), Ralph Winter ("Planet of the Apes"), Howard Kazanjian ("Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Return of the Jedi"), Janet Scott Batchler ("Batman Forever") and Scott Derrickson ("Hellraiser")

"Damah recognizes and celebrates two identifying marks of this current generation: the search for spirituality and the impulse to make films," Mr. Derrickson says.

In 2001, its first year, the Damah Film Festival screened 82 short films. By contrast, the Cannes Film Festival screened only 70 short films its first year.

The screening tonight is sponsored by Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Republican Rep. Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania and Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, the Washington Arts Group, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, among others.

Pot for pain

What could conservative Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger and liberal Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts have in common?

They both support marijuana for medicinal purposes. This morning in the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Nofziger will join Mr. Frank and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Executive Director Keith Stroup to offer support for the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act.

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