- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2003

War of the snacks

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark is trailing Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts by only a few percentage points for second place in New Hampshire, which explains in part why Mr. Clark’s campaign staffers in Washington targeted their Kerry counterparts for a practical joke earlier this week.

Matt Bennett, Mr. Clark’s communications director, orchestrated “the courier delivery of chicken wings from the Hawk and Dove to the Kerry campaign’s Capitol Hill headquarters — a headline-grabbing stunt devised to highlight Kerry’s ‘ever-changing’ position on the war,” John Mercurio writes in CNN’s Morning Grind column (www.CNN.com/grind).

“We know John Kerry likes fowl. But we were confused if it was hawk or dove. So we decided to send wings,” Mr. Bennett was quoted as saying.

Said Mr. Mercurio: “Kerry’s folks only learned the source of their feed as they watched ‘Judy Woodruff’s Inside Politics’ on CNN, just as they were polishing off the box o’ wings. They responded [Wednesday], armed with Madonna’s recent endorsement of Clark (an easy target, we say) and a box of Zero candy bars. (As opposed to ‘Clark’ bars. Get it?)”

Rebuking the rebukers

“The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation [on Wednesday] severely repudiated a board which, a year ago, had judged ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist,’ the best-selling book by Bjorn Lomborg, ‘objectively dishonest’ and ‘clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice,’ ” James K. Glassman writes at www.TechCentralStation.com.

“Lomborg’s book — with 2,930 footnotes, 1,800 bibliographical references, 173 figures and nine tables — powerfully challenged the conventional wisdom that the world’s environment was going to hell. When it was published in English in 2001, the book, published by the distinguished Cambridge University Press, was praised in The Washington Post, the Economist and elsewhere,” Mr. Glassman said.

“That reception provoked panic among radical greens. In early 2002, the Economist reported that ‘Mr. Lomborg is being called a liar, a fraud and worse. People are refusing to share a platform with him. He turns up in Oxford to talk about this book, and the author … of a forthcoming study on climate change throws a pie in his face.’

“In January 2002, Scientific American magazine published a special section titled ‘Science Defends Itself Against “The Skeptical Environmentalist.” ‘ Articles by perfervid critics of Lomborg covered 11 pages. All this attention, however, served merely to boost sales of the book, which nearly two years after its publication still ranked first in its category on Amazon.com.

“Then, in January, came what enviros figured would be the coup de grace: a report by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSC). The report was, to be charitable, a piece of junk, but its conclusions, coming from an official body, were nonetheless given prominent display in world media. The New York Times headlined its page 7 story by Andrew Revkin, ‘Environment and Science: Danes Rebuke a “Skeptic.” ‘

“Now, the Danes have issued a well-deserved rebuke to the rebukers.”

A big story

The news of Saddam’s capture blew a big story off the front pages, Richard Brookhiser writes in the New York Observer: Con Coughlin’s article in the London Telegraph, of Sunday, “Terrorist behind September 11 strike was trained by Saddam.”

Iraq’s provisional government, Mr. Coughlin writes, claims to have found a memo to Saddam from Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, his former head of intelligence, reporting that al Qaeda terrorist Mohamed Atta was in Baghdad for three days in the early summer of 2001. (Atta was living in Florida at the time, but as he seemed to be able to come and go without difficulty, why not to Baghdad?)

“Habbush described Atta, in language oddly reminiscent of a camp counselor’s, as having ‘displayed extraordinary effort.’ But not at weaving or rowing: He would be ‘responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy.’ Some months later, Atta’s airplanes found their targets,” Mr. Brookhiser said.

“What better fate for the man who connived in these murders than to destroy his regime, kill his sons and drag him, dirty and bearded, before the cameras? He should get a swift, fair trial from an Iraqi tribunal. The French, Germans and Russians who labored to prop him up should get no last chance, via international institutions, to save him one more time.”

Smith’s comeback

Former Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, hoping to represent his newly adopted home state of Florida, says he plans to seek the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Graham.

Mr. Smith, a Republican who moved to Sarasota in May, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he will formally announce his candidacy next month.

“I’m going to run a campaign which I basically offer my credentials to the people of Florida, my seniority, my experience in the Senate,” Mr. Smith said. “I want to help President Bush. This is a critical state for the president.”

The two-term senator was defeated in last year’s Republican primary by John E. Sununu. In June, he took a job selling high-end waterfront real estate in Longboat Key.

Republicans running or considering a run include former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, Rep. Katherine Harris, state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd and legal activist Larry Klayman.

Democratic hopefuls include U.S. Reps. Alcee L. Hastings and Peter Deutsch and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas.

Cuomo sues

Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has filed a $15 million libel lawsuit against the author of a book that says he improperly influenced a federal judge to throw out a multibillion-dollar verdict against a utility company.

Mr. Cuomo says Greg Palast wrote the statement in his best seller, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.” Court papers cite a passage in which Mr. Palast says he was an investigator who helped make the government’s case that the Long Island Lighting Co. lied about the final cost of a nuclear power plant the utility wanted to build.

“I convinced the government to charge [Lilco] with civil racketeering, and a jury said they should pay $4.8 billion,” the passage reads. “Then the governor of New York, a slick operator named Mario Cuomo, reached the chief federal judge in New York — and poof — the jury’s verdict was thrown out.”

The judge referred to in the book, published in February, was U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein, court papers say.

The charge that Mr. Cuomo made the verdict disappear is “a false and unfounded statement of fact,” court papers say.

Mr. Palast, whose book purports to expose corporate fraud and government corruption, said, “I stand by every word I’ve written.”

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Mr. Cuomo was governor of New York from 1983 to 1994.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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