- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

Bad-news bearers

“The danger for Democrats now is that their strategies all seem to count on bad news from Iraq,” Deborah Orin writes in the New York Post.

“In fact, the buzz in Dem circles was how unlucky it was for [Missouri] Rep. Dick Gephardt that he gave his big Iraq-gone-wrong speech on Tuesday, choosing the day that Saddam’s sons were killed to claim that President Bush has made America ‘less safe.’

“In other words, the Dems are putting themselves into the awful box where it’s good for them politically if U.S. troops gets ambushed. Their strategy roots for bad news,” Miss Orin said.

The columnist noted that Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry “didn’t bother to issue a statement hailing the elimination of Uday and [Qusai] — but he did fire off a press release chiding Bush for daring to claim that military operation was a success and marks a hopeful sign for Iraq.”

“‘Now is not the time for victory laps. Too many Americans have died in Iraq since the last one,’ fumed Kerry, sounding as if the news was gloomy, not good.”

McCain raps Dean

Sen. John McCain expressed indignation that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean would dismiss the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons with the words “The ends do not justify the means.”

“I am astonished. A lot of people have compared me with Governor Dean. I could not disagree with him more — to say that the end doesn’t justify the means,” Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate, said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Hardball” with Chris Matthews.

“The ends were the eradication of two psychotic, murdering rapists, and the means were through legitimate use of the American military helped out by some excellent information that they gained,” Mr. McCain said.

“How in the world someone could in any way think this end was not justified by anything, which was the removal of two odious characters, frankly, is beyond me. And I think, frankly, Mr. Dean does the nation a great disservice when he doesn’t recognize how wonderful an event this is and how important it is to the morale of the troops that these guys are gone. I mean, our troops serving in Iraq.”

Analyze this

“In a study that ponders the similarities between former President Ronald Reagan, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Rush Limbaugh, four American university researchers say they now have a better understanding of what makes political conservatives tick,” WorldNetDaily reports at www.worldnetdaily.com.

“Underlying psychological motivations that mark conservatives are ‘fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity; uncertainty avoidance; need for cognitive closure; and terror management,’ the researchers wrote in an article, ‘Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,’ recently published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin.

“‘From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination,’ they wrote, according to a press release issued by the University of California at Berkeley. The researchers also contend left-wing ideologues such as Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro ‘might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended.’

“The study was conducted by Associate Professor Jack Glaser and visiting Professor Frank Sulloway of UC Berkeley, Associate Professor John Jost of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Professor Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park.”

Unified Democrats

More than six months into the 108th Congress, House Democrats have been impressively unified in opposing some of the big-ticket Republican bills.

With 100 percent opposition to the budget conference report — all 203 Democrats present voted against it — and 97 percent opposition to the tax-cut bills, Democrats have kept their troops together this year.

And the unity goes beyond economic issues. Nearly 96 percent of House Democrats voted against the Republican Medicare prescription-drug bill, which passed only after Republicans twisted enough arms to have some of their own members switch from “No” to “Yes” votes.

Among the other votes:

• The Labor-Health and Human Services spending bill: 100 percent opposition.

• Limiting the U.S. contributions to the United Nations: 93 percent opposition.

• Restricting money sent to the U.N. Population Fund: 89 percent opposition.

Convention exception

Federal election regulators decided yesterday to allow corporations and unions to continue making large contributions to finance the two political parties’ presidential nominating conventions despite a new law outlawing such donations in elections.

The Federal Election Commission unanimously ruled that the law passed by Congress last year did not apply to fund raising by the local committees in the host cities that help the parties stage the nominating conventions, the Associated Press reports.

Democrats are meeting in Boston next July. Republicans are holding their convention in August 2004 in New York City.

Office of mysteries

The House Corrections Calendar Office, it seems, may need some correcting of its own, according to a report Thursday in CQ Today.

The “House office that exists in name only” is used by leaders of both parties to pad their staffs’ salaries with $5 million during the past six years, according to the report. That allows them to spend more than their individual offices are allocated.

The CQ Today reporter, Allison Stevens, interviewed 12 staffers paid through the Corrections Calendar Office and “only one said she actually works on corrections-related business.”

“It’s bipartisan. It’s just the way they move money around,” said John Feehery, spokesman for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. “That’s the way they do some of this stuff sometimes.”

House rules allow staffers to be paid out of multiple accounts, but they are supposed to be paid from each account according to the amount of time they spend on that office’s work.

Gennifer vs. Hillary

A federal judge refused to release Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from a lawsuit by Gennifer Flowers that accuses the senator of masterminding a campaign to discredit Miss Flowers’ claim of an affair with Bill Clinton.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro dismissed Miss Flowers’ defamation claim against Mrs. Clinton, but allowed a conspiracy charge to proceed. Former presidential aide George Stephanopoulos and campaign strategist James Carville also are being sued.

Judicial Watch, a legal watchdog group representing Miss Flowers, said Wednesday it will seek the senator’s testimony in the case.

In 1992, a supermarket tabloid wrote that Bill Clinton and Miss Flowers had an affair while he was Arkansas governor. When the presidential candidate denied it, Miss Flowers held a news conference to play audio tapes she said were of secretly recorded intimate phone calls between them.

Mr. Carville, now on CNN’s “Crossfire,” and Mr. Stephanopoulos, now an anchor on ABC’s Sunday morning program “This Week,” said that Miss Flowers had doctored the tapes. Mr. Stephanopoulos repeated that accusation in a book.

Shift in perceptions

Fully 44 percent of the American public now believes that Islam is more likely than other religions “to encourage violence among its believers,” according to poll results released yesterday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The survey “shows that there has been an important shift in public perceptions of Islam,” the Pew groups said. As recently as March 2002, just 25 percent expressed this view.

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

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