- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Who, me?
Presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton phoned reporter Donald Lambro of The Washington Times yesterday to complain that former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta must have been talking about somebody else in saying the Democratic presidential race "cannot be about hate."
Mr. Sharpton said Mr. Panetta was not talking about him when he uttered those words.
"I was told that he was not accusing me of hate. That was the conclusion of the writer," Mr. Sharpton said.
Did the black activist talk to Mr. Panetta? Mr. Sharpton would not say.
"That is not what I am told is his conclusion. I'm not going to divulge how I've come to that. I've fought hate all my life and will continue to," Mr. Sharpton said.
In an interview last week, President Clinton's chief of staff said this of Mr. Sharpton: "I think most people put the Sharptons of the world in a certain category. He has a chance to say his piece, but I don't think that's where the party is going to wind up. It's a free country and everybody can enter the race, but this is a race that cannot be about hate."
Moyers claims flag
"Bill Moyers sported [a] flag lapel pin on Friday night's 'Now' on PBS, not to proclaim his patriotism and/or pride in the United States, but to 'take' the flag 'back' which has been 'hijacked and turned into a logo the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism,'" the Media Research Center's Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.
"Citing how President Bush and Vice President [Richard B.] Cheney wear flag lapel pins, Moyers was reminded of communism: 'When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's Little Red Book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread.'
"Moyers went on to complain that 'more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American.'
"Moyers decided to wear the flag for one night as a 'modest riposte' to the 'people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They're in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war.'"
Think again, Jeb says
With Florida facing its tightest budget since he was elected in 1998, Gov. Jeb Bush said yesterday he wants voters to reconsider expensive constitutional amendments they passed to cap class sizes and build a high-speed rail system.
In his annual State of the State address, the Republican governor said the amendments would require tax increases and hamper the state's ability to strengthen the economy and protect its residents from terrorist threats.
"I believe we must go back to the voters and have them make a decision with all the information in hand, information about the new challenges our state faces, and information about the massive tax increases that will be necessary to pay for them," said Mr. Bush, who has proposed a $54 billion budget.
Mr. Bush has argued that the class-size amendment, approved by 52 percent of voters in November, would cost Florida as much as $28 billion to implement. And the first leg of the rail project connecting Tampa and Orlando could exceed $4 billion.
Point of view
"MSNBC executives can deny it all they want, but they are definitely looking to cut into Fox News' perceived monopoly of 'conservative' viewers," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.
"On Saturday, the NBC-controlled cable network will air a show featuring San Francisco-based talk-radio host Michael Savage.
"Meanwhile, they mull how best to utilize former Republican House leader Dick Armey in their programming.
"But it isn't just in front of the camera that MSNBC is looking to change its point of view. In the past month, the cable channel has been interviewing and hiring researchers, story editors and producers with a conservative bent.
"'We don't want people who just read the New York Times,' says a New York-based MSNBC producer. 'We've got plenty of those types. We want people who read and understand National Review, the Drudge Report and Lucianne.com.' Understand?
"'Just because we put a conservative like Savage on the air doesn't mean we're going to win any more ratings points,' says the producer. 'We have to develop stories and issues-coverage that a right-leaning viewer wants to watch.'"
Prayer walkout
Two Washington state lawmakers left the floor of the House of Representatives during a prayer by a Muslim religious leader, citing patriotism and a lack of interest.
Republicans Lois McMahan of Gig Harbor and Cary Condotta of East Wenatchee walked to the back of the chamber during Monday's invocation by Mohamad Joban, imam of the Islamic Center of Olympia, the Associated Press reports.
Miss McMahan said she did not oppose having a Muslim deliver the prayer, but did not remain in the chamber because "the religion is the focal point of the hate-America sentiment in the world."
"It's an issue of patriotism," she said.
Mr. Condotta said he was talking to another lawmaker and "wasn't particularly interested" in the prayer. He would not elaborate.
In his prayer, the imam asked for God or Allah to bless the state of Washington, guide the House in making good decisions, America's success in the war against terrorism and world peace.
None call it treason
Americans acting as human shields against bombing targets in Iraq are committing treason against their country, Sen. Lindsey Graham says.
The South Carolina Republican is asking Attorney General John Ashcroft whether the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute citizens for interfering with a military strike.
"It goes without saying that Americans enjoy the right to challenge their government and protest in a variety of lawful ways," Mr. Graham said. "However, our Constitution and federal legal structure do not allow Americans to actively aid nations or groups engaged in hostilities with the United States."
In defining treason against the United States, the Constitution says it "shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."
The protesters have also violated the Trading with the Enemy Act, which restricts economic activities with Iraq, including travel, Mr. Graham said.
"I, along with many other members of Congress, strongly believe the full force of the law should be applied to those American citizens who give aid and comfort to our enemies," Mr. Graham said.
Sharpton's strength
The Rev. Al Sharpton is the leading Democratic presidential contender among New York City Democrats, pollster John Zogby reports in his latest survey.
"In New York City, Sharpton was the strongest with 13 percent of the vote, followed closely by [Connecticut Sen. Joseph I.] Lieberman (12 percent) and [Missouri Rep. Richard A.] Gephardt (11 percent)," according to the Zogby International Web site.
Mr. Lieberman tops the list statewide at 14 percent among the 345 Democratic "likely voters" who participated in the survey and indicated a preference. He is trailed by Mr. Gephardt, at 12 percent, and Mr. Sharpton, with 9 percent.
The survey was conducted Feb. 22-23, before Florida Sen. Bob Graham officially entered the race, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 percent.

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