- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

Star search
“Worried that their party has been outgunned in the political propaganda wars by conservative radio and television personalities, influential Democrats are scouring the nation for a liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh and the many others on the deep bench of Republican friends,” the New York Times reported yesterday in a front-page story.
“For years, Democrats have groused about their inability to balance what they see as the increasing influence over the electorate by advocates of Republican policies,” reporter Jim Rutenberg said.
“But they say their concerns have taken on a new urgency because of the rise to the top of the cable news ratings by the Fox News Channel, considered by many to have a conservative slant, and the loss of the Senate to the Republicans in November. Some Democrats say the election outcome enhanced the influence of Fox News and personalities like Mr. Limbaugh.
“The efforts among influential Democrats, particularly liberals, range from a grassroots talent search for progressive radio hosts to the creation of research organizations to provide a Democratic spin for the news media, to nascent discussions by wealthy supporters about starting a cable network with a liberal bent.”

The winner is
PBS television personality (and erstwhile LBJ aide) Bill Moyers has won first place in the Media Research Center’s 15th annual awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting.
Mr. Moyers’ winning quote came from the Nov. 8 broadcast of his PBS show “Now,” expressing his views on the 2002 midterm elections. The full quote is available and RealTime video is available at www.mrc.org, but here’s an excerpt:
“The entire federal government the Congress, the executive, the courts is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to surrender control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.
“Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you like the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what’s coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture.
“Republicans outraised Democrats by $184 million and they came up with the big prize: monopoly control of the American government and the power of the state to turn their radical ideology into the law of the land.”

Secret codes
Jennifer Granholm took the oath of office yesterday as Michigan’s first female governor, calling the milestone “a great message for our daughters and our sons.”
As the first woman to serve as the state’s chief executive, Mrs. Granholm said “the door has been opened forever,” the Associated Press reports.
“And for you young people in front of me, and by you young people, the door must be opened wider still, so that no characteristic like gender or race or national origin or religion will ever again contain the secret codes that allow admission,” Mrs. Granholm said during her inaugural address in Lansing.
Mrs. Granholm, who had been the state’s attorney general the past four years, said the first job of her administration will be tackling a budget deficit that could approach $2 billion in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. She has to present a spending plan for that budget to lawmakers by mid-March.

Richardson sworn in
Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was sworn in as governor of New Mexico at the start of the New Year, returning Democrats to power after eight years of Republican control of the state’s top executive office.
Mr. Richardson formally became governor when he recited the oath of office during a private ceremony in Santa Fe shortly after midnight.
He succeeded two-term Republican Gary E. Johnson.
The ceremony was closed to the public, but Mr. Richardson invited 130 family members and friends, including television journalist Sam Donaldson, to watch as he and the new lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, took office.
Mr. Richardson later pledged that he and the lieutenant governor “will work every second to improve the lives of our people,” the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Richardson took the oath of office a second time in a public ceremony at the Capitol later yesterday and then delivered his inaugural speech, in which he outlined several policy specifics, including a proposal for a 6 percent increase in teacher salaries next year.
He also said his administration would immediately begin performance audits of all state agencies to identify potential budget savings.

‘Daunting’ problems
George E. Pataki yesterday was inaugurated to his third term as governor of New York, calling for unity and nonpartisanship to overcome the “historic, grave and daunting” economic problems facing the state.
The state faces fiscal problems, both from the national recession and from the aftereffects of the September 11 attacks.
“Today, 16 months after the attacks, the dust has long since settled, the fires have been extinguished, the rubble is gone,” Mr. Pataki said. “And yet, the challenge isn’t over. We still face a crisis.”
“Make no mistake, the challenges before us are the most difficult our generation has ever faced,” the Republican said.
Mr. Pataki, 57, gave no hint of how he proposes to cover revenue shortfalls estimated at up to $10 billion over the rest of the 2002-03 fiscal year and in fiscal 2003-04, which begins on April 1, the Associated Press reports.
He has said he will get into those details during his State of the State address on Jan. 8 and in his budget proposal, due by Feb. 1.

Friend of Bill
A federal magistrate in Miami granted bond to a member of the Philippine legislature accused of making illegal campaign donations to former President Clinton and other Democratic politicians.
Mark B. Jimenez can be released on a $300,000 bond along with a $20,000 cash deposit with the court, U.S. Magistrate Ted Bandstra ruled Tuesday. He will be placed under 24-hour house arrest in the Miami area. Mr. Jimenez is to be arraigned Jan. 13, the Associated Press reports.
Facing a U.S. extradition request, Mr. Jimenez, 56, voluntarily left the Philippines last week. A 1999 federal indictment charges that he used corporate money to reimburse employees for illegal donations to Mr. Clinton and other politicians.
Prosecutors said Mr. Jimenez has used his wealth and influence to avoid the charges.
“He is here only because he ran out of options,” said prosecutor Michael Savage.
But defense attorneys said Mr. Jimenez was a dutiful public servant with extensive ties to South Florida someone who should not be considered a flight risk.
Family members said they were piecing together the bail. Mr. Jimenez could be released by the end of the week.
Mr. Jimenez was accused of illegally routing $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee and $33,500 to campaign committees through employees at two Miami-based companies.
As a citizen of the Philippines, Mr. Jimenez could not legally contribute to U.S. political campaigns.

The small tent
Jeb Byrne, a “committed Democrat” who has served in “Democratic administrations on state and federal levels,” laments that there appears to be no room in the party for abortion opponents like him.
“[Last] year the Democratic National Committee refused to post the name of a committed Democratic group, Democrats for Life of America, on the ‘links’ page of the DNC Web site,” Mr. Byrne said in an op-ed piece Tuesday in The Washington Post.
“The militant abortion-endorsing organizations are there, of course, in full force.”

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