Tuesday, October 12, 2004

‘Weasel’ exterminator

Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) President Marian Wright Edelman will bring her anti-George W. Bush message to the National Cathedral in Washington on Thursday, Oct. 28 — five days before Election Day.

Mrs. Edelman charges that the Bush White House co-opted CDF’s trademarked words “Leave No Child Behind” and is using them over and over again to cover up what she calls unjust budget and tax policies that hurt children.

“Our nation’s moral compass needs resetting,” Mrs. Edelman told worshipers Sunday at Riverside Church in New York City and St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church in Orange, N.J.

“If you believe it’s all right for our leaders to impose budget cuts on poor children in order to give massive tax breaks and subsidies to millionaires and powerful corporations, then stay home and don’t vote.

“There are some big weasels eating away at America’s Constitution and eating away at America’s professed values of freedom and justice. Unless we name them and challenge them, they will destroy our nation’s soul and our children’s future.”

Vote global

A voter-education campaign by the clothing giant Patagonia has resorted to a 1983 photo of a stark timber clear-cut site in Canada to ask American citizens to “vote the environment” on Nov. 2.

But critics point out that the practice of clear-cutting forests on federal land in the United States was phased out by President Bush’s father, President George Bush, in the early 1990s.

The photo in question, taken by Joel W. Rogers and sold through Corbis, lists the location as Lyell Island in British Columbia, Canada. Patagonia’s ad campaign features the photo of the mountain, half of which is devoid of trees, and says “your vote could finish the job.”

“The environment is in crisis. This November 2, how we vote could determine whether American children will, by the time they reach middle age, face life on a dying planet. We can do better. But we don’t have much time. Register. Get informed. Vote the environment November 2,” the ad states.

Critics say the company, which donates thousands of dollars to environmental groups like Earth First and the Ruckus Society, is meant to paint the current administration as destroyers of the environment.

“[Sen. John] Kerry supporters will do just about anything, from a fake memo to a 21-year-old photo taken in Canada,” says Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council.

Says another observer of the ad: “Environmentalists used to say ‘stumps don’t lie,’ but now the liars are stumping.”

Reached yesterday at the company’s California headquarters, Eve Bould, Patagonia’s director of communications, told Inside the Beltway: “We selected the image as a representation of environmental degradation, rather than as a comment on a particular locale.”

She said Patagonia views the photo as “an iconic image of the damage our society can cause” on a global basis.

Hearty hemp

No sooner did the Bush administration decide in recent days not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a unanimous 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling of February that hemp foods should be legal for sale and consumption, than manufacturers began lining up to peddle hemp products at this week’s food expo at the Washington Convention Center.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) says there is now no question that it has won its three-year case against the Drug Enforcement Administration, which sought to ban hemp-seed and hemp-oil foods. The court basically ruled that hemp seeds were as safe for human consumption as poppy seeds.

In fact, HIA Executive Director Candi Penn says Americans looking for healthy alternative sources of omega-3 because of trace mercury in fish and fish-oil supplements can find it in hemp food. The big question now is whether U.S. farmers will be allowed to start growing hemp for industrial purposes.

Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of government affairs for Vote Hemp, says the U.S. marketplace is currently supplied by hemp seed grown and processed in Canada and Europe.

“We will now work to convince Congress it is time for the U.S. to again allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp and participate in this lucrative growth market,” she says.

• Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.” Mr. McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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