- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Fan of Camelot

“And next January, I look forward — as president of the Senate — to swearing in Richard Burton as the next — Richard Burr — as the next senator from North Carolina.”

Vice President Dick Cheney, at a fund-raising reception in Winston-Salem, N.C., this week for Republican congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Burr.

Uh-oh

We hereby warn Minnesota congressional candidate Jim Mork, who was a district judge for 22 years, that he’s breaking the law.

Stepping down from the bench in 2001 to practice law, Mr. Mork announced recently his independent candidacy to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht.

“It is time to raise the bar on integrity in Washington,” says Mr. Mork.

Actually, it’s the former judge who needs to examine U.S. law surrounding the “misuse” of the official seal of the U.S. House of Representatives, which we find at the top of his campaign logo in his official Web site: www.mork04.com.

U.S. Code Title 18, Section 713, clearly states: “Whoever knowingly uses, manufactures, reproduces, sells or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

No couch potato

On the heels of this column observing that George W. Bush has “no nose for news,” Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, walked onto the House floor to express his astonishment.

Interviewed by Bill Sammon, senior White House correspondent for The Washington Times, for his new book, “Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry, and the Bush Haters,” Mr. Bush admitted:

“I don’t watch the nightly newscasts on TV, nor do I watch the endless hours of people giving their opinion about things … I don’t read the editorial pages; I don’t read the columnists.” In fact, Mr. Bush said he barely “skims” four newspapers delivered daily to the Oval Office: “The New York Times, The Washington Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.”

No Boston Globe, Mr. Frank?

“The time has come,” says the liberal congressman, “for the president to acknowledge the fact that his method of getting information only from people within his own administration, who may have their own motives for misrepresenting or not giving him information that might be embarrassing to them, that has broken down, and the time has come for the president to dip into the budget that he gets and buy a subscription to some newspapers and watch the TV news.”

Prefer a handshake

The nation’s lawmakers are increasingly using e-mail to communicate with constituents, but these same elected officials don’t trust the authenticity of e-mails sent to them.

“What we heard was that [special] interest groups can generate tons of e-mails from anywhere, and the legislators don’t even know if they’re from authentic people,” says Lilliard Richardson, associate professor at University of Missouri at Columbia’s Truman School of Public Affairs.

“So, they don’t know anything about these people, yet their e-mail boxes are filling up. Rather than ‘grass roots,’ the legislators call this abuse ‘AstroTurfing.’”

Mr. Richardson says nearly 80 percent of respondents in his survey expressed concern about fake e-mail. Even photographs can’t be trusted, as several news organizations learned of late after publishing doctored photos surrounding the Iraqi war.

Most legislators surveyed, he adds, expressed concern that relying upon e-mail communication could result in biased representation, as many constituents do not have access to e-mail. They also were concerned about the confidentiality of e-mail, and whether the sender was actually a constituent. For this reason, many prefer more traditional means of interfacing with their constituents.

“Legislators still place a higher value on phone calls or letters and especially personal visits,” Mr. Richardson says.

A better place

Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, a White House Fellow in 1983, will share her stories and insights about America’s 40th president at the Leadership Institute’s Ronald Reagan tribute dinner, to be held this evening at the Washington Court Hotel.

The institute, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, identifies, recruits, trains and places conservatives in the public-policy process.

Other notable Reagan alumni stepping up to the podium this evening will include Steven Moore, Mark Kluggman and Lyn Nofziger. The latter was Mr. Reagan’s press secretary in his first California gubernatorial campaign and again in the former president’s successful 1980 campaign for the presidency. Today, when he’s not politicking, Mr. Nofziger pens and publishes poetry under the nom de plume of Joy Skilmer. Here are the last few lines of one such ode to his old friend, the Gipper:

He brought the cold war to an end.

Of Gorbachev he made a friend.

And communism he stopped dead,

Thus ending its ongoing spread.

Optimism he brought the land.

Taxes were cut at his demand.

Prosperity he gave the nation,

Brought a halt to long stagflation.

And to our land he brought new pride,

Which some thought had forever died.

Most men depart without a trace.

He left the world a better place.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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