- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Sticking to hoops

The Democratic Party is having a difficult time recruiting a recognizable cast of characters to help retake control of the Senate. The latest to say “no, thanks” is former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who didn’t let several months of courting from the Democratic National Committee sway him into seeking Georgia’s open seat.

Other familiar faces ruling out senatorial bids in recent weeks are former Clinton Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman in Kansas, former Democratic presidential aspirant Gary Hart in Colorado, Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell in Missouri, even Philadelphia 76ers general manager Billy King in Pennsylvania. Jay Timmons, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, detects “minority party” disenchantment.

Base model

We’ve learned that 11 former commissioners who served on the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) have endorsed a new plan to apply the BRAC model to closing “stagnant” U.S. Postal Service facilities.

The plan was originally proposed this summer by a panel appointed by President Bush to consider the future of the postal service.

“Because of its vast and outdated infrastructure, the U.S. Postal Service would benefit from the same kind of dispassionate review that we applied to the Department of Defense,” the former commissioners say in a letter to Congress.

The ex-commissioners include former Rep. Jim Courter, chairman of the 1991 and 1993 rounds of BRAC; former Sen. Alan Dixon, who served as the commission’s chairman in 1995; and Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bar sightings

That was Democratic presidential hopeful Richard A. Gephardt, wife Jane, and daughters Chrissy and Kate ducking into the popular Bar Rouge at Washington’s Hotel Rouge, where in honor of the appearance a special “Gephardtini” was stirred up — a blue (?) martini, garnished with a bright red cherry.

Meanwhile, across the Potomac River, Al Gore enjoyed his privacy while dining with friends at Alexandria’s Evening Star Cafe (he also poked his nose into the upstairs Majestic Lounge), mainly because few in the young crowd recognized the former vice president in their trendy neighborhood hangout.

And trying to watch his Chicago Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves while dining over the weekend at Old Town Alexandria’s Landini Bros. (all dried-out from Hurricane Isabel’s recent surge) was former House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois, who it’s hard to believe retired in 1995. It was Mr. Michel in 1991 who was instrumental in gaining congressional support for the previous U.S. war with Iraq.

Common subjects

Three federal grants have been awarded to American universities to “partner” with Iraqi universities, and additional grants will follow in the coming weeks.

The first $4.1 million grant, for the study of archaeology and environmental research, goes to the State University of New York at Stony Brook to partner with Baghdad University, Al Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, Mosul University and Basrah University.

Columbia University, Boston University and Oxford University in England will assist Stony Brook in providing tools and training to modernize Iraqi curricula in archaeology.

In addition, $3.8 million goes to the University of Hawaii to partner with the University of Mosul’s College of Agriculture and Forestry in Hamam al-Alil, to strengthen academics in agricultural sciences at the University of Mosul and the University of Dohuk.

Finally, another $3.8 million goes to DePaul University’s College of Law to work with the University of Baghdad. The U.S. Agency for International Development sees the partnerships as “a central and necessary element of the nation’s transition to democracy.”

Clogged but cool

Regarding our previous column item on Ben & Jerry’s giving away one scoop of free ice cream to anybody who writes U.S. senators and urges them to support anti-global warming legislation introduced on Capitol Hill, reader Margaret Booth writes: “So these people want to give away a product that is going to clog the arteries and cost the country millions in health care to hopefully prevent global warming. Makes sense to me.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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