- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dean on the loose

Oh, dear. Howard Dean is being, well, Howard Dean.

The habitually expressive Democratic National Committee chairman is not retracting a questionable remark he made before a group of black Democrats in New York last week.

“You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room? Only if they had the hotel staff in here,” he told his audience Feb. 11 — a comment that drew mixed reviews, indeed.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who is black, categorized the remark as “racially insensitive and intolerable,” and called for an apology.

Dream on.

Speaking at a Baltimore fund-raiser yesterday for Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Mr. Dean got feisty all over again.

“You don’t apologize when people call you names. You fight back,” he told a 60-member audience that included none other than Mr. Steele.

But Mr. Dean was decidedly unrepentant, according to an account from WBAL, a Baltimore radio station.

“You know why they talk?” he demanded, referring to annoyed Republicans.

“Because they have nothing to say about education and health care,” Mr. Dean concluded.

Swift boats, Part 2

Meanwhile, Jim Dean was named chairman of Democracy for America (DFA) on Wednesday. The Vermont-based political action committee was founded by brother Howard Dean a year ago as a base camp for his grass-roots presidential campaign.

Jim has his plate full already.

Yesterday, DFA announced it was ready to rumble with “the extreme right-wing lobbying organization USA Next,” which last year called Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam service into question with TV ads, which came to be called “the Swift Boat” campaign.

DFA says USA Next is “a front for radical conservatives” with “a smear campaign against the AARP, one of the largest opponents of private investment accounts — the centerpiece of President Bush’s Social Security plan.”

The DFA is particularly irked by a USA Next ad featuring a crossed-out photo of an American soldier, an image of two men in tuxedos kissing that bears a check mark and the motto, “The Real Agenda of the AARP.”

Mr. Dean — Jim, that is — called it a “disgraceful strategy.”

The New York Times, however, described the phenomenon as “USA Next ‘Swift Boats’ AARP.”

DFA is offering a petition asking TV stations nationwide to ban the ad — and anything else produced by USA Next this year.

Border patrol

A new report from Columbia University economists David Weinstein and Donald Davis estimates the net economic losses from immigration to Americans at $68 billion.

“If the well-being of natives is a primary concern, then lawmakers may wish to consider the negative economic effects on native-born Americans,” they state.

Unlike earlier studies that say immigrant labor results from abundant resources and demand for labor, the researchers say globalization, technological superiority of the U.S. economy and resulting high living standards create a favorable climate for immigrant workers.

The $68 billion loss — calculated for 2002 — “represents a $14 billion increase just since 1998. As the size of the immigrant population has continued to increase, so has the loss,” the study noted.

The decline in wages is relative to the price of goods and services; the study took into account any change in consumer prices brought about by immigration.

“While natives lose from immigration, the findings show that immigrants themselves benefit substantially by coming to America,” the study found.

Swann song

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann has filed papers forming a campaign committee for governor of Pennsylvania — his first official step toward a potential bid to be the Republican contender in the 2006 midterm elections.

The filing allows the one-time wide receiver to begin raising money for a campaign, which he already has deemed “a conversation with the people of Pennsylvania,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday.

“I will spend time introducing myself to communities across the commonwealth. As I consider my personal decision regarding the upcoming gubernatorial race, we will also explore the potential political and financial support for my candidacy,” he said.

Mr. Swann named his committee “Team 88,” the number he wore during his Hall of Fame career.

He faces at least two prospective opponents for the Republican nomination next year: state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola of Harrisburg and former Lt. Gov. William Scranton. The nominee is expected to take on Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell in his bid for a second term.

Strike up the band

American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Tuskegee Airmen, Doolittle’s Raiders, Navajo Code Talkers Association, Merrill’s Marauders Association, Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars — these are just a few of the 150 veterans groups invited to participate in the National Memorial Day Parade.

Now in it planning stages, the May 30 event features D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams as grand marshal, organizers announced yesterday.

The town hasn’t seen something like this in six decades.

“A Memorial Day parade has not been held in Washington, D.C., since World War II. I am delighted our committee is able to bring that great tradition back to the nation’s capital,” noted James C. Roberts, president of the World War II Veterans Committee.

Physician heal thyself

It’s called “Sorry Works.” Illinois state legislators are considering a mannerly panacea to the medical malpractice mess.

When doctors and hospitals err, they should just say “I’m sorry” and offer prompt patient compensation. In theory, patients are less likely to sue for malpractice, which in turn could rein in skyrocketing malpractice-insurance costs.

Bills pending in the Illinois House and Senate would establish a “Sorry” pilot program at two hospitals. The legislation, which passed the Senate last year, would offer hospitals a risk-free incentive. If the program increases a hospital’s malpractice costs, the state makes up the difference.

But if it reduces the costs, the hospital pockets the savings.

Doctors and trial lawyers, who agree on little else, support “Sorry,” the Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday.

“It’s an attempt to think outside the box,” noted Keith Hebeisen, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected]washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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