- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Keep out

Texas Democrats have removed the welcome mat for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and other national Democratic leaders, causing Washington's party elite to bow out of this month's convention in El Paso.

There is concern among state party officials that the Democratic leadership, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, could hamper any success in President Bush's home state.

"It was caused by all the flak should they come, should they not come," party operative Jesus "Chuy" Reyes, brother of Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes, tells the El Paso Times. So the national leaders bowed out, he explains, because they didn't want their presence to "cause any problems for anyone."

Confirms DNC member Blanche Darley: "When you are invited and then you hear you are not wanted, it makes you say, 'Adios.'"

As a result, Mr. Daschle has deleted his name from the June 13-15 convention slate, as has Mr. McAuliffe, according to the Associated Press in El Paso. In addition, Mr. Gephardt, a tentative speaker at the convention, suddenly has a scheduling conflict, as does former vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.

Mr. Bush's approval ratings remain extremely high in Texas, as they do around the rest of the country.


Could President Bush, who often mixes his prose with "ums" and "uhs," be sending listeners friend and foe alike a signal of uncertainty?

Yes, say speech researchers, who say the use of "uh" and "um" sends information to listeners just like proper words.

In a science update for the Nature News Service, John Whitfield writes: "Public speakers learn to suppress umming and erring, hiding moments of uncertainty. For example, there's not a single 'um' or 'uh' in any of the recorded inaugural addresses made by U.S. presidents between 1940 and 1996."

Among experts studying "uhs" and "ums" are Herbert Clark of Stanford University and his colleague, Jean Fox Tree, at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

"If you aren't careful, it's a killer," says Mr. Clark, who speaking for himself adds, "I try and keep it from becoming one."

Thou shalt regulate

We've been allowed a sneak peak at the "Ten Thousand Commandments," to be handed down next Tuesday.

This year's annual snapshot of the federal regulatory state, published by the Cato Institute, reveals that regulations issued under President Bush are down in number, although they still remain "very high," according to author Clyde Wayne Crews Jr.

"In the new fiscal year 2003 federal budget, [Mr. Bush] proposed to spend $2.01 trillion on discretionary, entitlement, and interest spending," Mr. Crews writes. "While these costs fully encompass the on-budget scope of the federal government, there is considerably more to the reach of the federal government than the sum of the taxes sent to Washington.

"Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year on top of official federal outlays," he says, adding that the "exact cost of federal regulations can never be fully known."

Highlights of the 2002 Ten Thousand Commandments:

•The 2001 Federal Register contained 64,431 pages, more than a 13 percent decline from 2000 (4,132 final rules were issued by agencies in 2001).

•The unelected are doing the bulk of lawmaking. While unaccountable regulatory agencies issued 4,132 rules, Congress passed and the president signed into law just 108 bills in 2001.

•The five most active rule-producing agencies (the departments of Transportation, Treasury, Interior, and Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency) account for 48 percent of all rules under consideration.

Our hero

What is the significance of Washington-based Wilson Research Strategies polling 1,000 registered voters nationwide to learn their favorite comic superhero?

More than you might think.

"While Democrats, independents, and Republicans alike all say Superman is their favorite, the intensity of that preference among Republicans is significant," insists Chris Wilson, the firm's president. "Certainly, Clark Kent's all-American, independent, self-motivated persona and sense of personal and familial responsibility has much greater appeal among Republicans than Democrats."

Perhaps, but what Mr. Wilson forgets to point out is that Americans, in overwhelming numbers, have chosen a newspaperman as their top superhero. Which is understandable, given the Fourth Estate's responsibility to search out and expose political corruption and other societal shenanigans.

Mild-mannered though he may be, Mr. Kent superhero among 35 percent of Republicans, 26 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independents beat out Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Incredible Hulk, Flash Gordon and the Bionic Man.

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