- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

The Iraq-free zone

"Fear Factor," "King of Queens" and "The Drew Carey Show" are more important than President Bush, at least in the eyes of NBC, CBS and ABC, which did not air the president's speech to the nation on Iraq last night.

MSNBC, Fox News and CNN carried the message. "It is a no-brainer for us to run it live," noted MaryLynn Ryan, managing editor of CNN/U.S. yesterday.

But, according to a New York Times/CBS poll, "the majority of Americans say that the nation's economy is in its worst shape in nearly a decade and that President Bush and congressional leaders are spending too much time talking about Iraq while neglecting problems at home."

The poll "suggests that no matter what is happening in Washington, voters are more concerned with the economy and domestic issues than with what is happening with Saddam Hussein, presenting the Democrats a glimmer of hope as Congress prepares to vote on the Iraq resolution and adjourn to campaign," according to the Times.

The findings so annoyed talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh that he accidentally cursed on the air around noon yesterday. Others agreed.

"I had to dig and dig just to learn that Iraqi agents were caught smuggling 33 pounds of uranium, or that Iraq was linked to al Qaeda, or that Saddam was only six months away from a bomb," wrote one Internet news-site visitor. "Facts like these are getting squeezed out by liberal lies about falling stocks, unemployment and snowballing deficits."

Don't love us

How much do we understand Arab culture?

Harold Pachios, chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy testifies today before the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, veterans affairs and international relations at a hearing titled "Are We Listening to the Arab Street?"

Mr. Pachios believes U.S. public diplomacy is in disrepair, but progress is being made.

"We are not reaching our target audience," he notes. "To effectively communicate with foreign audiences, especially those in the Middle East, we need to define our public-diplomacy campaign. To put it bluntly, we should not be in the business of getting people to love us. We will never win that war of words. We should, however, try to help the world understand us."

Bug out

Federal and state officials in Iowa said no crime was committed by Sen. Tom Harkin's campaign staff in a bugging incident against his Republican opponent in September.

Republican rival Rep. Greg Ganske had demanded a government investigation after the Harkin campaign admitted that a supporter attended and taped a closed Ganske strategy meeting, then gave a transcript of it to a newspaper reporter.

The campaign worker and Mr. Harkin's campaign manager resigned, and Mr. Harkin said he was not involved. Officials do no plan to prosecute.

Call out the Armey

The parent company of the Dallas Morning News has accused House Majority Leader Dick Armey of "abuse of power," saying he retaliated against the newspaper for its coverage of his son's failed congressional bid.

Yesterday, the News said the Texas Republican tried to have language placed in a $10 billion military-appropriations bill to force Belo Corp. to divest itself of one of its three Dallas media properties.

Belo owns the News, four other dailies and 19 television stations; the provision, however, did not mention Belo by name. Still, they believe Mr. Armey took issue with coverage of his son, Scott Armey, a former Denton County judge who lost an April runoff for his father's seat. The senior Armey will retire at year's end.

Last spring, the News and another Belo paper, the Denton Record-Chronicle, examined Scott Armey's record as a judge, including his votes for contracts benefiting political associates. His father accused the newspapers of "vicious unprofessionalism," according to Reuters.

The papers denied the lawmaker's charges.

Handy dandy

A photograph showing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle pledging allegiance to the American flag with his left hand over his heart has been in gleeful circulation on the Internet.

The photo shows the South Dakota Democrat standing earnestly in a lineup which includes Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, plus Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican. All but Mr. Daschle are pledging with their right hands.

The accompanying caption reads, "He's so left of center he pledges backwards."

It's all a fake, according to Urban Legends, which tracks such things at its Web site (www.snopes.com).

"This picture is yet another image which has been digitally manipulated to make a prominent politician look foolish," they note, but did not speculate on who's behind it all.

Meeting of the minds

Fallout from Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney's defeat in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary continues in Georgia.

Three protests converged at the governor's mansion in Atlanta over the weekend, as Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes entertained the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backed Mrs. McKinney's primary opponent, Denise Majette.

The Rev. Timothy McDonald, whose Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta picketed the event, accused the group of "meddling in predominantly African-American congressional districts," according to the Associated Press.

"If it were not for AIPAC, McKinney would not have lost," Mr. McDonald said.

He was joined by state Sen. Billy McKinney, the congresswoman's father. "I'm against Barnes. Barnes duped the black community," said Mr. McKinney, who was defeated in his own primary election, referring to Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat. "Black people need to get out of the pocket of the Democrats."

After singing hymns, Mr. McKinney crossed the road to shake hands with white protesters angry at Mr. Barnes for changing the Confederate emblem in the state flag. Simultaneously, the New Black Panther Party arrived, with Malik Zulu Shabazz leading a dozen members in chants of "black power."

And meanwhile

Some black Georgia Democrats have broken away to start an independent party, according to the Redding News Review. The new Georgia Caucus of Independents are "disgusted with the tricks and hoodwinks that have been played on Democrats for many years," calling Gov. Roy Barnes and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor "Democratic cannibals."

The party advises, "'Bout time somebody in that party wised up. Well, let me say it this way. 'Bout time the blacks in this state wise up. If it were not for the blacks there would be no Democratic Party."

Founders of the party include former state Rep. John White and outgoing state Sen. Billy McKinney, who plan to build a slate for the 2004 election.

"Governor Roy Barnes and Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor played race politics by going to south Georgia to help two white Democrats against two black Democrats," the group stated.

Banking on it

Once he leaves office, Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, will take a job as vice chairman of the investment banking firm UBS Warburg.

"They're hiring me for what I know, not who I know," Mr. Gramm said. "It's not a lobbying job."

After 24 years in Congress, the ranking Republican on the Senate banking committee said President Bush had not asked him to join his administration and he'd made it clear to the president that he did not want another government job.

"I love the president," Mr. Gramm said. "I care about him personally. I'm always going to be involved. I am delighted to enter the next phase of my career as an investment banker," said Mr. Gramm, formerly an economics professor at Texas A&M University.

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