- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2004

You never know

What with the president’s highly secretive visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving Day, who can blame reporters standing guard over the vacationing George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, for not trusting the White House scheduler.

Take this week, when a reporter posted in the otherwise sleepy Texas town asked White House spokesman Trent Duffy: “Could you confirm or knock down reports out of the Middle East that the president may go to Libya next year?”

Mr. Duffy: “I don’t have any updates on the president’s schedule at this time.”

Reporter: “Can you assure us he’s not going this week, though?”

Mr. Duffy: “I don’t have any updates on the president’s schedule.”

Reporter: “That was a joke.”

Nonfiction

Citing yet another eye-opening reason for the Senate to reject the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal 2004 — hoping to force congressional appropriators to strip out “thousands and thousands” of pork-barrel projects — Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, draws attention to this week’s earmark: $100,000 for the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn.

Lots of stories

The Republican Study Committee’s Money Monitor keeps track of how Washington spends your money. And is Washington ever on a spending spree this year compared with last.

Here’s year-to-date totals of net one-year costs of House-passed appropriations:

Fiscal year 2003: $476,378,900,000.00

Fiscal year 2004: $873,990,730,000.00

Reagan’s address

It’s noteworthy that Americans cast more than 300,000 votes as part of a National Archives initiative, “The People’s Vote: 100 Documents That Shaped America.”

The 10 documents, in order, that received the most votes: Declaration of Independence (76 percent), U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Louisiana Purchase Treaty, Emancipation Proclamation, 19th and 13th amendments to the Constitution, Gettysburg Address, Civil Rights Act and Social Security Act.

But perhaps more interesting, the paper ballot included an opportunity for voters to “write in” documents not on the Archives’ printed list of 100, and at the top of the write-in votes is President Reagan’s 1987 speech before the Berlin Wall, in which he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Other documents not listed among the original 100 that received multiple write-in votes were President Bush’s speech responding to the September 11 attacks, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Clone Capital

The Garden State could soon be known as the Clone Capital.

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, a Democrat, has signaled he will sign into law the nation’s most sweeping pro-cloning legislation to date, which doesn’t please the Washington-based Family Research Council.

“If ever there was a piece of legislation which tramples the sanctity of life, it is the one Governor McGreevey is poised to sign,” says Connie Mackey, the organization’s vice president for government affairs.

She says the law would authorize New Jersey’s large biotech industry to clone a human embryo, implant that embryo into a woman’s womb, develop the embryo to the fetal stage, and then kill it for “research purposes.”

Casting call

Yes, People for the American Way says it “helped bring the provocative ‘Trumbo’ to the New York stage this fall, with its timely echoes of writer Dalton Trumbo’s persecution in the McCarthy era, and free speech advocates/actors including Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, Chris Cooper, Nathan Lane, Ed Harris, Anthony LaPaglia, Gore Vidal, and others in the role.”

But Laurie Boeder, media relations director for PFAW, says contrary to our item in Monday’s Inside the Beltway column it isn’t yet known whether those same actors/activists will participate in the PFAW’s renewed fight against “Patriot Act II” antiterrorism legislation.

Also, Ms. Boeder says, the past year’s expanded network of regional PFAW offices includes Houston, Chicago and Tallahassee, Fla., which join existing offices in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

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

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