- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Schiff and Schrock

There is on Capitol Hill a Congressman Schiff.

There is also a Congressman Schrock.

But for the umpteenth time there is no Congressman Schnell.

Once again, the U.S. Postal Service is forced to alert customers to an urban legend that continues to circulate the Internet. A similar hoax has occurred in Canada surrounding Canada Post.

As many readers already know, an Internet message says a Congressman Schnell has introduced Bill 602P to allow Uncle Sam to impose a 5-cent surcharge on each e-mail message.

No such proposed legislation exists, nor does Congressman Schnell.

Still, Congress received so many complaints from constituents who believed the rumor that it took the extraordinary step of passing legislation to reassure the American public that it had no plans whatsoever to impose an Internet surcharge.

That said, this column shall never forget the two politicians who fell for the hoax. During a political debate broadcast live on CNN, Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and her opponent, then-Republican Rep. Rick Lazio, were asked whether they would support "Bill 602P."

Mrs. Clinton, relieved that for once this controversial bill had nothing to do with her controversial Bill, responded that she would not vote for the legislation because it "sounds burdensome and not justifiable to me."

Mr. Lazio agreed, labeling the bill an "example of the government's greedy hand in trying to take money from taxpayers that, frankly, it has no right to."

Parting reminder

"The politics of greed always comes wrapped in the language of love."

soon-to-retire House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, explaining that liberals have been extraordinarily successful at convincing the American public of higher motives, which conceal their own greed for political power, social prestige or just plain money.

Choked blue

At least one group of Democrats, the Blue Dog Coalition, ought to be able to tolerate the new Republican majority that's swept Capitol Hill.

At last count there were 33 bona fide Blue Dog Democrats, conservative and moderate members of the party, hailing from every region of the country, although the group acknowledges some Southern ancestry, which accounts for the nickname.

Or, as the Democratic coalition explains, "Taken from the South's longtime description of a party loyalist as one who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat, the 'Blue Dog' moniker was taken by members of the coalition because their moderate-to-conservative views had been 'choked blue' by their party."

How to lose weight

Among the many remembering the men and women of the U.S. armed forces when he celebrates Thanksgiving with his family tomorrow will be Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Pitts is a former Air Force officer and veteran of the Vietnam War and is reminding Americans that they owe a great debt to this country's military professionals, active and veterans alike, particularly those captured, injured or killed in battle.

That said, thousands of U.S. military troops digging in overseas will be observing Thanksgiving tomorrow away from their families, including sailors and soldiers in the Middle East preparing for war with Iraq. Uncle Sam, you can be sure, has flown in plenty of turkey and cranberries for everybody.

But in preparing for war, the Pentagon isn't always so giving.

"Early in my service, before my first combat mission, I was required to take survival training," Mr. Pitts recalls. "As a B-52 officer, there was always the chance I would get caught behind enemy lines. I had to learn escape and evasion tactics. I had to learn how to stand up to interrogation and torture if I was caught."

The congressman says he was dropped into a remote, rugged mountainous region with nothing but a map, compass, flashlight and the clothes on his back. He had no tent, no sleeping bag and no food. Armed guards relentlessly pursued him. If he were caught, he would have to begin the process all over again.

"For meals, I had to forage for food," he says. "Wild onions were the easiest to find. The only other food I could find was frogs. For two long weeks, I lived on nothing but frogs and onions. It's not a diet I would recommend. I lost 15 pounds in two weeks and couldn't stand to eat onions for years afterward."

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