Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Angry and mean

“It’s a cliche this is becoming the meanest year in politics yet. But it’s true,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Last week, Mike Lavigne, the spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, admitted calling a state Supreme Court justice ‘a Nazi.’ When his boss, Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soecthting, was asked if an apology was due, he said, ‘I don’t have a problem that Mike said it.’

“Then there’s Sen. Ted Kennedy, who told a startled Senate last week that ‘Saddam’s torture chambers have been reopened under new management, United States management.’ Some conservative talk-show hosts, such as Michael Savage, have railed against gays and immigrants while they question John Kerry’s patriotism. On the left, Bush-bashing has become a national sport,” Mr. Fund said.

“Prominent Democrats are beginning to realize that hatred of President Bush won’t defeat him in November. One of the reasons that Mr. Bush continues to lead John Kerry in polls despite the bad news from Iraq is that many voters tune out criticism of the president when it turns hysterical. ‘It isn’t enough for you to be venomous and be angry,’ Bill Clinton urged a MoveOn.org fund-raiser last week. ‘Don’t be mad. Smile. Be glad.’ …

“If liberals are going to follow Bill Clinton’s advice and become happy warriors, they have some housecleaning to do first. The very group he spoke to, MoveOn.org, belongs to the paranoid school of American politics. In January, it held a contest to select the best ads that told ‘the truth about George Bush’s policies.’ Two of the entries posted on the group’s Web site compared Mr. Bush to Hitler.”

Forgotten on Sunday

“You don’t get much agreement between Republicans and Democrats in the House nowadays. But one peeve has united them: Sunday talk shows ignore their members in favor of senators,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“‘Almost no House members appear on the Sunday shows,’ complains a leadership aide. His proof: In two months, 50 current or former senators have appeared on the programs, compared with only five House members,” Mr. Bedard said.

“Look for House Republicans and Democrats to demand equality.”

Thomas’ advice

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told students graduating from Ave Maria School of Law on Sunday to make decisions by principle first and never to quit.

In a commencement speech at the conservative Catholic school in Ypsilanti, Mich., Justice Thomas said his initial difficulty finding a job in his native Georgia after graduating from Yale Law School eventually put him on the path to the nation’s highest court.

“I retained all those rejection letters in my basement,” Justice Thomas told a crowd of hundreds at Eastern Michigan University. The commencement recognized Ave Maria’s second class of graduates, a group of 56 students, the Associated Press reports.

Justice Thomas, 55, urged perseverance without complaint, crediting that work ethic to his grandparents, who helped raise him in Savannah, Ga., after his family home burned down when he was 6.

“They lived their lives without complaint,” he said. “They accepted life on its own terms. … Today, we are awash with complaint and whining.”

Justice Thomas, a 1991 appointee of President George Bush, said when asked by grandchildren someday about how to act in a tough situation, he wants to be able to say: “I did my best. I lived according to my principles and my faith.”

He said there is nothing wrong with wealth or popularity gained from the legal profession, so long as it comes as a result of “principle rather than self-interest.”

Justice Thomas received an honorary doctorate during the ceremony.

Tennessee law

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has signed a bill that might have made his state the first to give businesses an incentive for not outsourcing data-entry and call-center work to cheaper offshore locales.

The new law asks state procurement officials to give preference in bids for such services to contractors employing workers only in the United States. The legislation was approved overwhelmingly by lawmakers last month and signed into law last week, the Associated Press reports.

“It is significant because it is the first time for a state to do preferences for data-entry and call-center work through legislation,” said Justin Marks, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The bill came in response to the growing controversy over outsourcing of white-collar jobs to India and other countries with large populations of educated English speakers willing to work for significantly less money.

Legislatures in 35 states have introduced bills seeking to address the issue, usually by banning the state from contracting with companies planning to employ offshore workers. Intense lobbying by business groups has helped prevent passage of those bills in other states.

Business groups say a ban would be illegal and could prompt other countries to retaliate by preventing U.S. companies from doing business with foreign governments.

The original bill in Tennessee sought to ban the state from contracting with companies employing foreign workers, but it was watered down.

London protest

British antiwar protesters plan to stake out former President George Bush tonight at a fund-raising dinner in London for his son’s re-election campaign.

Stop the War Coalition plans to picket the London hotel hosting a Republicans Abroad dinner, which will drum up support for President Bush’s re-election bid.

“Let us give George Bush … the reception he deserves and make it a night that the guests would wish that they had not paid $1,000 each to attend,” the group’s Web site says.

The group, which has spearheaded British opposition to the war in Iraq, plans to present visitors with giant checks bearing the words “Blood Money” and “Stop the Torture,” a spokeswoman said yesterday.

But the Bush-Cheney campaign was confident that the protesters would not succeed in disrupting the event, Reuters news agency reports.

“Anytime that the former president travels, the appropriate security precautions are taken,” spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is scheduled to meet with the elder Mr. Bush, a spokeswoman for her office said, as is her successor John Major, his office said.

Quote of the day

“At this point, I am not suffering from the overwhelming burden of high expectations,” Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, told the New York Times on Sunday while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in Oregon.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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