- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Pizza rule squashed
Republicans pushed changes through the House yesterday that would make it easier for lobbyists to send boxes of pizza and buckets of chicken to congressional offices. The changes would also allow charities to give lawmakers travel and lodging at resorts.
The changes by the majority Republican leadership caught Democrats by surprise and ignored the House ethics committee's warnings against skirting the spirit of ethical conduct, the Associated Press reports.
The change in the perishable-food provision, dubbed the "pizza rule" by protesting Democrats, legalized the type of scheme in the ethics panel's warning in November.
The rules changes, which apply to House members and their staffs, passed on a party-line vote 221-203. A Democratic effort to kill the resolution was defeated, 225-200.

New York, New York
"President Bush's decision to hold the 2004 Republican convention in New York puts Hillary Rodham Clinton's party on the defensive and means he'll really try to win the state which would make it impossible for any Democrat to beat him," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.
"'It's a master stroke it's a real whiz-bang for Bush,' said Quinnipiac University pollster Maurice Carroll.
"Bush's decision and in the end it was his means that the symbolism of 9/11 and America standing united against terror will be the central theme of his renomination, against the backdrop of a city where his presidency changed in an instant," Miss Orin said.
"Picking New York is also a way for Bush to send a message that he cares about cities and minorities, that he intends to go after Democrats on what they still see as their home turf.
"If New York votes for Bush in 2004 as it did twice for Ronald Reagan that could change the whole national dynamic and raise real questions about Hillary Clinton's potential as a national candidate. If Republicans can make it in New York, they can make it anywhere."

Apocalypse now
"The Day of Judgment is at hand," the Wall Street Journal says.
"We know this not because we've seen a vision but because the Prophet Ralph Neas told us so, in a mass e-mailing to journalists" Monday, the newspaper said in an editorial.
"'The Approaching Armageddon on Judicial Nominations' is the title of Mr. Neas' latest moral admonition, handed down from his command center at the People for the American Way, where he has spent the past two years directing the Senate Judiciary Committee's evisceration of many of President Bush's judicial nominees. But now the Senate has fallen into the hands of the beast and the end is nigh. The Horsemen of the coming Apocalypse are Mr. Bush's expected appointees to the Supreme Court.
"These yet-to-be-named justices will 'turn back the clock' on decades of 'legal and social gains,' Mr. Neas prophesies. Americans may 'wake up one morning in 2004 or in 2005 and discover that overnight they have lost fundamental rights, liberties, and protections that they thought were theirs forever.' The two Anti-Christs already on the bench, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, will prevail.
"Mr. Neas' prophecy extends to the lower courts as well, where he foretells that all 13 federal courts of appeals could fall under the 'ideological domination of the far right wing of American legal thought' if Mr. Bush's nominees are confirmed. The mark of the beast, by the way, is membership in the Federalist Society.
"Meanwhile, there is no vacancy on the Supreme Court and Mr. Bush has yet to send the new Senate a single judicial nominee. With Mr. Neas already talking about Apocalypse, how do Senate Democrats escalate when there's an actual nominee to talk about? We don't know the answer, but you can bet it's going to be ugly."

Fooling themselves
"The 2002 elections, and their aftermath, tells us a good deal about the immediate future of American politics," Peter J. Wallison writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"After their unprecedented loss in a midterm election, the Democrats developed a number of excuses the president's popularity, the fact that he was viewed as a wartime leader, the failure to engage him and the Republicans directly on the nation's economic problems. Later, in the Trent Lott episode, the Democrats and their supporters in the media developed the idea that they have been gradually losing their grip on power because the Republicans have been playing the race card, particularly in the South," Mr. Wallison said.
"As annoying as this is particularly the finger-pointing about racial politics coming from its principal practitioners Republicans should take comfort in the fact that the Democrats are still fooling themselves. The fact is, they have not yet come to terms with what has been ailing their party since Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, and until they do the Republicans can hope for a long and successful reign."
The problem, Mr. Wallison said, is that the Democrats remain the party of big government.
"In the 2002 election, tax policy was again a surrogate for the big vs. small government debate. That's why the Democrats were unable to articulate a consistent position.
"As long as the American people remain suspicious of the efficacy of government at the federal level and, with the exception of the military and fighting terrorism, there is no sign yet that they have changed their minds about this those who advocate tax-cutting will hold the electoral trump card."

Labor honors Dean
Outgoing Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a Democratic presidential candidate, will be honored Friday by the national AFL-CIO.
The award is bound to help Mr. Dean in the competition for labor support as the Democratic presidential race heats up, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Dean will receive the inaugural AFL-CIO Senator Paul Wellstone Award for his support of a successful effort by nurses to unionize Vermont's largest hospital.
Stewart Acuff, the union's organizing director, said the award did not signal a labor endorsement of Mr. Dean.
"There is no message connected with the presidential campaign," he said. "The labor movement appreciates greatly political leaders who go out of their way to help workers."
But political ramifications remain.
"The symbolic nature of this is very important," said Roy Vestrich, president of the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, which includes Vermont's nurses and health care professionals. "There is not an endorsement here, but there is a signal here for those running for president that labor and labor issues are important."

Rangel's bill
With Congress back in session, New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel wasted no time in introducing legislation to restart a military draft.
The Bush administration quickly dismissed the idea as unnecessary and unwise, Reuters reports.
Mr. Rangel, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, introduced a bill for compulsory military or national service for men and women, ages 18 to 26, without exemptions for college or graduate studies.
He said a draft was necessary "to achieve a full sharing of the sacrifice which will be required of the American people if the president chooses to invade Iraq" and engages in other conflicts in the war on terrorism.
However, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the administration had no plan to resume the draft, saying "there is no need for it at all" and that it would prompt an inefficient "churning" of personnel who were trained and then left the military.

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