- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 14, 2004

Uncivil politics

Regarding likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts calling President Bush and his crew “a crooked bunch of liars,” Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, reasons: “Politics in general, in a republic like ours, is a substitute for civil war. It is a very important process.”

Pillow fights

“I do not want to take up my whole hour, so I am not going to go over the whole list,” began Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., New Jersey Democrat.

That’s a relief. Given the current boy scout in the White House, it would have been a boring hour.

Still, Mr. Pallone was the token Democrat tasked with taking to the House floor to decry President Bush’s “revolving door” of overnight guests at the White House — the same election-year prop our current president rightfully used against the king of slumber parties, Bill Clinton.

We’ve all read reports in recent days that Mr. Bush opened the White House and Camp David to dozens of overnight guests during the past year, including nine of his biggest campaign fund-raisers. But that’s about as exciting as it gets.

Unlike Mr. Clinton, for example, Mr. Bush hasn’t tucked Barbra Streisand between the sheets of the Lincoln Bedroom. Nor was there a pillow fight with Jane Fonda, another overnight guest of the previous president.

Mr. Bush’s guest list includes Mercer Reynolds, an Ohio financier leading the president’s campaign fund-raising effort, and Brad Freeman, a venture capitalist who heads California fund-raising. How exciting those bedside conversations must have been.

Hill inventor

A physicist and congressman, Rep. Rush D. Holt, New Jersey Democrat, couldn’t support House passage of the United States Patent and Trademark Fee Modernization Act.

Among other points, he says, the act will increase fees for inventors to obtain a patent or trademark, lead to decreased efficiency and accountability, and shift patents out of the hands of Uncle Sam to private commercial entities, perhaps sending U.S. jobs overseas.

“Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants the federal government the responsibility to ‘promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries,’” he says.

How does Mr. Holt know so much?

He himself has obtained a patent for a system to generate solar energy.

Popping pills

Doctors and patients beware: A major focus of President Bush’s new comprehensive antidrug strategy is the illegal diversion and abuse of addictive prescription drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration cites an “alarming” increase in prescription drug abuse over the past decade, particularly the type of opioid painkillers that Rush Limbaugh got hooked on. White House drug czar John Walters says nonmedical use of prescription drugs is so rampant it “calls for immediate action.”

Nonmedical use of narcotic pain relievers and sedatives, says the DEA, now ranks second behind marijuana as the preferred illicit drug among adults and youths.

Under the tree

“I’m sure you have already received a number of letters about this so, if you like, mine can be tossed where it will contribute to the thermal degradation of our atmosphere, hastening catastrophic anthropocentric climate change (do you like my new thesaurus?),” writes Inside the Beltway reader Jim Heap.

“On to more serious matters. There are many in my home state of Michigan who would claim that the Republican Party was first organized in Jackson, Mich., under an oak tree, about 3 months prior to the Ripon [Wis.] meeting,” he says.

“I understand the story to be that unionists who desired the presidential candidacy of Abe Lincoln met in Jackson and agreed to support that candidacy under the banner of a new political party. The meeting ended with an agreement to meet in Wisconsin to announce the formation of the party with Mr. Lincoln as candidate.”

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

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