- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

Let it ring?
Poll after poll shows telemarketers, after politicians and tax collectors, are the people Americans love to hate. And no wonder. Everybody has a tale to tell about getting up from the dinner table to answer an unsolicited telephone call.
So the Federal Trade Commission late last week went to the trouble and expense of reserving a 1,000-seat ballroom in a Washington hotel to hold three days of public hearings over proposed changes to the Teleservices Sales Rule.
Surprisingly, few people showed up. While there was no official count on the first day, observers said there were fewer than 200 people in the room, and FTC officials outnumbered the general public (as opposed to industry representatives and so-called consumer advocates) by at least 10 to 1.
Indeed, during the public comment session the first day, only three unaffiliated individuals stood up to speak.
The issue that the FTC thought would garner so much public interest is the commission's proposal to create a national "Do-Not-Call Registry." In theory, the registry would allow John Q. Public to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls he receives.
Telemarketers even those whom the public might enjoy hearing from who dial a number on the do-not-call registry would be subject to a fine of $11,000 per call. Additionally, telemarketers would be required to purchase the list from the FTC.
Opponents of the registry argue it could put the brakes on the $660 billion telemarketing industry and perhaps derail charitable organizations that rely on phone calls to raise money.
Among the topics discussed at the hearings: whether to allow consumers to "opt in" to calls from specific telemarketers; whether to allow businesses to register their phone numbers on the national registry; whether do-not-call provisions should apply to for-profit telemarketers acting on behalf of charities; and whether the rule should exempt religious and political organizations.

Quote of the week
"There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions. And I think some of the I think Dan is transparently liberal. Now, he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him, too. But I think he should be more careful. I think Goldberg, Bernie he was a very good reporter, you know. He said some very true things."
Andy Rooney, appearing last week on Larry King Live, when asked about retired CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias," a scathing indictment of liberally-bent CBS News anchor Dan Rather and his network.

Location is everything
Pity the owner of the ExxonMobil service station in the heart of Capitol Hill who watched helplessly as the entire debate over free markets, capitalism, the environment and proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pulled up to his pumps.
Activists from the American Land Rights Association, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union and FreeRepublic arrived in American-made, gas-guzzling, U.S.-flag-draped sport utility vehicles to fuel up on the highest octane that Exxon had to offer.
Counterprotesters arrived from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Greenpeace but were hardly any match for the former crowd, which included two activists costumed as the Exxon Tiger and Saddam Hussein. The odd-looking pair climbed out of one SUV and began chanting, "We Love SUVs" and "Nader needs a job."
The Saddam impersonator carried with him a sign reading, "I hate America and I love Greenpeace," as protesters or was it the counterprotesters? enthusiastically cheered.

Finally licked
We recall the day in 1996 when D.C. Mayor Marion Barry dropped by McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant to sample the "Marionberry Cobbler," a Marion County, Ore., delicacy.
Observed CEO Bill McCormick, who joined the mayor for dessert: "Marionberries are as unique to Oregon as Marion Barry is to the District of Columbia."
(You can say that again. Just recently, Mr. Barry decided not to seek an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, days after being observed by U.S. Park Police officers "ingesting" a white powdery substance while sitting in his car on a dark street in the capital.)
Now we see where Milwaukee Frozen Custard, which has shops in the Washington area, has a lead on some rare marionberries. Or so we gather from the June flavor of the month: "Goodbye Marion Berry."

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