- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

No losers

The art of spinning press releases is valuable during this highly competitive election season, whether one is leading or trailing in political fund raising.

Consider this pair of headlines in competing press releases issued yesterday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

The Republicans — “NRSC reports $17.2 million on hand; 2 to 1 lead over Democrats.”

The Democrats — “DSCC outraises NRSC for 3rd quarter, outraising NRSC for cycle by $1 million.”

California concerns

“Instead of heeding the call of last fall’s historic recall and refocusing on the three ‘E’s,’ my opponent and her colleagues in the Legislature chose to spend their time, and our tax dollars, debating what I call the three ‘F’s’: ferrets, feng shui and foie gras.”

Heather Peters, a “Schwarzenegger Republican” running for California State Assembly in Los Angeles County against incumbent Democrat Fran Pavley

Raisin harvest

Fact or fiction, the newspaper headline in this week’s California Aggie, which began publishing in 1915, certainly is frightening: “Scientists Predict a 10 to 15 Degree Temperature Increase in Next Century.”

The article begins: “Napa Valley is ideal for growing wine grapes. Each inch of rolling hill is covered in mottled vines turning red, orange and yellow for fall. The cool morning fog cover spills in from the coast.

“But wine lovers beware — by the end of the century your coveted Napa Valley merlot may be a lot more expensive, and the rolling hills may look more like dry grassland.”

Time to stock the wine cellar?

“Given that the average wine lover is of age, I suggest that by the end of the century, higher wine prices might be the least of their worries,” reacts Iain Murray, senior fellow for International Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Irish stew

Irish-Americans, proud bunch they are, don’t see eye to eye on the 2004 presidential campaign.

Stella O’Leary, leader of the Irish American Democrats, is distributing a recent Washington Post clipping that opines: “Irish Americans, watching John Edwards in the debate last night, were reminded of John Kennedy. Smart- believable- charming, John Edwards was a reincarnation of John Kennedy, while Dick Cheney came across as a mean and defensive Richard Nixon.”

Reaction from the Irish Republican wing?

“A reincarnation of John Kennedy? Give me a break,” says Frank Duggan, chairman of the Irish American Republicans. “Edwards sounds like Gomer Pyle and he looks like the Breck Shampoo girl.”

Of mice and men

Banned Books Week has drawn to a close for another year, although this might be the first time you’ve read about the national celebration of First Amendment rights.

Sponsors of banning fewer books include the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, American Society of Journalists and Authors, National Association of College Stores, as well as 3,500 libraries and booksellers.

The observance is even endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

What interested us most was which book titles and authors were most frequently “challenged” — removing books from shelves or restricting materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.

Here’s what we learned: Among the top challenged books during the past decade were “Scary Stories” (series), by Alvin Schwartz; “Daddy’s Roommate,” by Michael Willhoite; “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou; “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain; “Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck; “Harry Potter” (series), by J.K. Rowling; “Heather Has Two Mommies,” by Leslea Newman; “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger; “Goosebumps” (series), by R.L. Stine; “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker; and “Sex,” by Madonna.

As for the most frequently challenged authors in 2003: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, J.K. Rowling, Robert Cormier, Judy Blume, Katherine Paterson, John Steinbeck, Walter Dean Myers, Robie Harris, Stephen King and Louise Rennison.

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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