- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Attacking liberty
As far as Donald Thorson is concerned, it took 31 years and September 11 for Uncle Sam to begin safeguarding the Liberty Bell, which was struck on July 8, 1776, to announce the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Our story begins in 1971, when Mr. Thorson, then assistant to the governor of Illinois, visited Philadelphia "and was appalled at the lack of decent protection for the Liberty Bell."
So he wrote to President Nixon, if only "to do what little I could to help ensure that the bell would never be hurt or destroyed."
Mr. Nixon wrote back to Mr. Thorson on March 29, 1971, saying that contrary to widespread belief the Liberty Bell "is not the property of the federal government," but rather belonged to the city of Philadelphia (the Colonial province of Pennsylvania paid $300 for the British-cast bell in 1752).
Nevertheless, Mr. Nixon concurred, protecting the bell was the responsibility of the federal government and National Park Service, and he assured Mr. Thorson that "the guard you saw near the bell is a Park Service Ranger especially trained in controlling crowds."
How times have changed.
In recent days, federal authorities began keeping close tabs on the 2,080-pound bell, having received a "nonspecific" threat that it soon would come under attack.
"It seems that for me, after a 30-year wait for genuine security … in the end it has taken terrorists, rather than a law-abiding U.S. citizen, to get our government to take notice that one of our great national symbols was highly vulnerable to attack," says Mr. Thorson, who adds he is glad he is "a patient man."

Journalism prize
"Please allow me to present you … with a coveted National Press Club mug, which will look very good alongside your display of your Nobel Prize Medal."
National Press Club President John Aubuchon presenting a newsman's most prized possession yesterday to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who thanked him by saying he will always remember reporters with affection, tinged with exasperation.

Crocodile tears
Officials in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's new and improved home county of Westchester, N.Y., are being castigated for their vigorous public "whining" over President Bush's proposed changes to the Community Services Block Grant Program, overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In his White House budget for fiscal 2003, the president, repeatedly attacked by Democrats for sucking up to the rich, calls for reforming the block-grant program his desire to redirect funds from wealthy counties like Westchester to poorer counties in genuine need of basic infrastructure and development.
"The nation is at war, the economy is in recession, and one of the nation's wealthiest counties is crying that it might lose some federal funds this year. Westchester has a per-capita income rate more than twice the national average," observes Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz. "They are getting money they don't need."
Under Mr. Bush's proposed formula, Westchester in 2003 would receive about $3.5 million in federal community grants, compared with the $7 million it siphoned from the HUD program in 2002.
Over the two previous years, the wealthy suburban county used $25,000 of HUD development money for the Music Conservatory of Westchester, and a whopping $1.4 million for village streetscapes and water/wastewater improvements.
"In times like these, a little belt-tightening is the least we should expect," says Mr. Schatz, who heads the nation's largest government-waste watchdog group. "Don't cry for me, Westchester County."

Abortion appreciation
You're reading correctly: For the sixth straight year, the American Civil Liberties Union on Saturday will host the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.
"On this day, stand up with your abortion-services providers and say: 'Thank you for heroism, perseverance, courage, and commitment to women,'" says the ACLU, which wants Americans to:
Praise clinic staff and doctors with postcards of appreciation.
Buy ads or write your local newspaper and call talk shows to express support.
Ask your local provider how you can help.
Become a volunteer clinic escort.
"We must change the climate overall from one where abortion providers are vilified and assaulted to one where they are honored and upheld as the heroes they are," the ACLU says.
Co-sponsors of abortion-appreciation day include the American Medical Women's Association, Catholics for a Free Choice, Center for Democratic Renewal, Ms. magazine, the National Council of Jewish Women, National Organization for Women, the People for the American Way Foundation, and Gloria Steinem's Third Wave.

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