- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Keys to a bulldozer?

"Conservatives and Republicans screamed and hollered [Wednesday] when word came of the federal appeals court decision against the use of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools," New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

"They were horrified. They shuddered in disbelief. They were consumed with anguish," Mr. Podhoretz said.

"Don't believe a word of it. In truth, Republicans are in a state of gleeful ecstasy. They're happier than they've been in years.

"With its decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed the Republican Party the keys to a political bulldozer and invited the GOP to flatten American liberalism.

"For a year, frustrated conservatives have been trying to figure out how to make an election-campaign issue out of the Democratic Senate's refusal even to hold hearings on George Bush's judicial nominees. Focusing their frustration on Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has gotten very little traction.

"The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just gave Republicans all the traction they need. The president can now spend the summer stumping for GOP Senate candidates by telling voters that if the next Senate has a Republican majority, he and his colleagues on Capitol Hill will make sure there won't be any more decisions trashing the sacred Pledge of Allegiance."

Rattled 'experts'

"The Oslo 'process priesthood' was thunderstruck by President Bush's vision of a free and prosperous state for Palestinian Arabs," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"For weeks, those experts had been leaking their certainty of Bush's adoption of the same old formula for failure: (1) declaration of an interim Palestinian state under Yasser Arafat's dictatorship, with a 'timeline' to force Israeli concessions, (2) a peace conference to impose on Israel the Clinton offer to return to indefensible borders and divide Jerusalem, sweetened by (3) Saudi-led Arab acceptance of Israel's existence," Mr. Safire said.

"But Bush this week placed responsibility for the war on Arafat's 'unacceptable' support of terror. Our rattled establishment of experts in the State Department and the elite media immediately put out word that Bush had deviated from the course they expected only because of some last-minute proof of Arafat's personal sponsorship of a suicide bombing."

Mr. Safire added: "Talk about engagement. Here is an American president leading the world beyond fixation on one terrorist collaborator, and beyond the process priesthood's 'comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come.' With his Reaganesque style and surprisingly Wilsonian outlook, Bush is now actively engaged in fostering the creation of the first Arab state that could provide freedom, equality and the good life to millions of its citizens."

Return fire

Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center, in an e-mail to this column yesterday, responded to Stanford researcher Geoffrey Nunberg's charge that an MRC study was "loaded." Mr. Nunberg, contrary to the MRC, maintains that the media are no more likely to label someone "conservative" than "liberal."

"Your column today quotes Geoffrey Nunberg's charge that the Media Research Center 'loaded the results' in our new study of ideological labeling, which I directed," Mr. Noyes said.

"In fact, the reverse is true we examined all instances when the liberal or conservative label was applied by a network reporter, discovering an overall 4-to-1 disparity and a more than 20-to-1 bias when it came to labeling presidential and vice presidential candidates. Only someone with absolutely no first-hand knowledge of the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts could suggest that conservatives were discussed four times more often than liberals, or that Republican candidates were mentioned 20 times more often than the Democrats."

Student prayers

Students in South Carolina public schools may be able to lead their classmates in prayer under a law signed this week by Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges.

The Student-Led Message Act allows school boards to adopt a policy permitting student-led messages, including prayers or religious messages, at school-sponsored events, such as graduation and sporting events.

Any such policy would require the speaker be selected by an objective standard, such as class rank. School officials would not be able to review the messages beforehand.

"By creating an opportunity for nonreligious expression in the public schools, we create the opportunity for religious expression as well," said Rep. Chip Campsen, who sponsored the bill signed Monday.

Mr. Campsen, a Republican, said he modeled the bill after recent U.S. Supreme Court and appellate decisions to work within constitutional boundaries.

State senator charged

A Wisconsin state senator considered a rising star in Democratic politics was charged Wednesday with illegally soliciting campaign contributions and trying to hide his misdeeds.

Brian Burke, 44, who dropped out of the race for Wisconsin attorney general earlier this year, was charged with 18 felony counts of fraud and withholding evidence, said Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard.

Mr. Burke could face up to 100 years in prison and fines if convicted of charges he used state workers and resources for his campaign, falsely claimed per-diem expenses, and illegally solicited funds from groups representing real estate agents, dentists, bankers and law firms. He was also charged with destroying evidence.

Bush aids Morella

President Bush will help raise money today for Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican, who faces what is expected to be a difficult re-election race. But Mrs. Morella may get a boost from protesters who have labeled Mr. Bush a "war criminal."

The D.C. Anti-War Network, in a news release yesterday, said it and a group called Neighbors United for Justice will demonstrate outside the noon presidential fund-raiser at the Wardman Marriott Hotel in the District.

Michael Rhodes of the D.C. Anti-War Network said that "while Morella's guests wait in line at the luncheon to have their picture taken with a war criminal, we will be outside making sure they know that Bush's War on Terrorism is a crime against all humanity."

Governor goofs

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden said Wednesday that his staff unknowingly hired an illegal immigrant as an office courier and even helped the man's daughter apply for her driver's license.

Marvin Gonzalez, a native of Costa Rica, handled the mail and delivered Mr. Holden's meals for about 18 months until staff received an anonymous phone call, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Gonzalez was fired Tuesday when it was learned that his legal work status had expired in 1992, said Mr. Holden, a Democrat.

Title IX panel

A panel of sports professionals and educators will examine ways to improve the 30-year-old law that has increased opportunities for women in school sports, Education Secretary Rod Paige told a Senate committee yesterday, the Associated Press reported.

The new Commission on Opportunity in Athletics is being formed in the wake of a lawsuit that argues that the law, known as Title IX, helps women's sports at the expense of programs for men.

"Some would like to settle this in the courts," Mr. Paige said. "But we believe the better approach is to discuss all the questions openly, in a forum where all voices and all viewpoints can be heard. The members of this commission are on the front lines, facing the difficult issues in athletics every day."

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