- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Democrats’ glass houses

Democrats like Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont who constantly blame Republicans for partisan filibustering on judicial nominations should be ashamed of themselves.

A just-released study, commissioned by the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation, finds that more than 88 percent of the votes for judicial-nomination filibusters come from Democrats; Democrats pursue nearly five times as many filibusters, with three times the support, as Republicans; and more than 98 percent of the votes to filibuster Republican nominations come from Democrats.

Comparably, 55 percent of the votes to filibuster Democrat nominations come from Republicans.

Also of interest, 95 percent of the 40 senators who have never voted for a judicial- nomination filibuster are Republicans, while only 5 percent are Democrats. And the 10 current senators who backed filibuster reform in 1995 now support judicial-nomination filibusters almost 66 percent of the time.

Finally, Democrats vote for judicial-nomination filibusters an average of 65 percent of the time, compared to Republicans nearly 3 percent of the time.

The eye-opening study, “Counting the Cloture Votes: Analyzing Senators’ Support for Judicial Nomination Filibusters,” by Thomas L. Jipping, analyzes the voting record of current U.S. senators on all motions to invoke cloture, or end debate, on judicial nominations.

Can you hear me now?

The latest weekly report from the Department of Health and Human Services, which has yet to solve the mysteries behind anthrax and SARS, includes — just above HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson’s public schedule — a list of exercise tips.

“Women should wear a good support bra,” HHS recommends, for starters.

“Oh, my,” says the official who forwarded the report to Inside the Beltway. What’s coming next “from a taxpayer-financed federal agency: ‘How to blow your nose correctly?’”

Other exercising tips:

c”Put away the TV remote control — get up to change the channel.”

• “March in place during TV commercials.”

• “Walk while you talk on a cordless phone.”

• “Slow down if out of breath. You should be able to talk while exercising without gasping for breath.”

• “Walk the dog.”

• “Wear a baseball cap in hot weather to help keep you cool.”

• “Wear a knit hat to keep you warm when you exercise outdoors in cold weather.”

Oversexed already

One week after federally funded “flirting classes” were held in San Francisco comes word of Uncle Sam’s “hot sex” workshop.

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the city’s AIDS Health Project received $985,572 from the federal government this year to provide AIDS programs, including this Friday’s federally funded “Hot & Healthy Summer Sex Workshop,” with the goal of “getting what we want.”

We called on our San Francisco stringer — AIDS/gay activist Michael Petrelis — and asked for his perspective on the competing federal workshops.

“As if the federally funded flirting class put on last week by the Stop AIDS Project weren’t enough to help the male homosexual find sexual partners, this week there’s a federally funded workshop on how to have hot sex in the summer,” says Mr. Petrelis, who once went to jail after shouting down President Clinton.

“Just how many such workshops and classes does the male homosexual in San Francisco need?”

For those tracking their taxpayer dollars, the flirting classes were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the hot summer sex workshop is being funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA.

Yukon’t smoke

The smoke-free public space debate has reached Washington, after the Montgomery County Council earlier voted 8 to 1 in favor of eliminating smoking in bars and restaurants.

Still, it remains to be seen whether two of the county’s largest cities — Rockville and Gaithersburg — will snuff out smoking within their municipal jurisdictions.

A “quirk” in the county measure leaves it up to the two municipalities to decide whether to adopt the smoke-free rule. If they don’t do so voluntarily, the county has the option of amending its legislation to include both cities in its ban.

Meanwhile, we see where the City Council of Whitehorse, Yukon (population 19,058) voted unanimously this week to eliminate smoking in all public places, including bars and pubs, by Jan. 1, 2005.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” Joseph W. Cherner, of smokefree.net, quotes Margaret Mead as saying.

“We all learn in school that your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, and your right to blow smoke ends where my lungs begin,” Mr. Cherner said in a telephone interview yesterday. “And your right to drink ends where the steering wheel of a car begins. It’s when you affect innocent people that it’s no longer your right.

“Smoke as much as you want,” he says, “as long as you are only hurting yourself.”

Whitehorse joins a growing trend to provide workers and the public with a smoke-free environment. In this country, major cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco have gone smoke-free.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected].

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