- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Pledge to refile

A congressman whose Pledge Protection Act passed the House in the final days of the 108th Congress, yet never got a Senate vote, will refile the legislation in the wake of atheist Michael Newdow’s renewed “assault” on the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri Republican, says Mr. Newdow’s latest federal lawsuit seeking to outlaw the recitation of the Pledge phrase “under God” is another effort to prevent freedom of speech by an “activist judiciary.”

The original act sought to protect the Pledge by removing jurisdiction of the federal courts in questioning its constitutionality.

“This is a disturbing effort to stifle the right of the children of our country to echo a commitment to what the Declaration of Independence calls ‘a firm reliance on Divine Providence,’ and must not be allowed to stand,” Mr. Akin says.

Mr. Newdow — who won his case in federal court in 2002, arguing it was unconstitutional to recite the Pledge in public schools — saw it dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court because he did not have custody of his young daughter, whom he purported to represent.

Now, he’s joined in a new lawsuit with eight others — parents and children — who claim to be damaged by reciting the Pledge.

Misguided dogs

First it was hounds in Great Britain. Now it’s getting difficult for dogs to hunt in America.

Legislation drafted by a Republican, to be introduced in the Virginia House, would criminalize the retrieval of hunting dogs from private property onto which they might stray. Fredericksburg Delegate Mark Cole’s bill would make it a crime to retrieve dogs without the written permission of the land owner.

“House Bill 1612 assumes that a hunting dog found on private property was released with the intent to illegally hunt,” notes Tony Celebrezze, field director of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Even the best-trained dogs will stray on occasion.

“Current law,” he adds, “allows a sportsman to retrieve a dog that has strayed, but this bill presumes the sportsman is hunting without permission and makes the recovery of the dog a misdemeanor.”

Ted rocks

Rocker Ted Nugent and his wife, Shemane, aren’t your typical celebrity couple. The pair are conservative, after all, and behind President Bush 100 percent.

The couple now live near Crawford, Texas, not far from Mr. Bush’s ranch, and they have become quite active in the community. Case in point:

The White House invited Crawford’s high school marching band to participate in next week’s inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Nugents caught wind of the invitation and immediately orchestrated a special fund-raiser for the students so they can fly to the nation’s capital instead of taking the long bus ride.

Even better, the fund-raiser will be a Ted Nugent jam session, to be held at the school this Saturday (Mr. Nugent soon will go on tour with country music artist Toby Keith.)

“Crawford is going nuts,” event insider Jennifer Ohman tells this column. “But the Nugents … think it’s a great opportunity for the kids to see a Republican president in person and [in] action.”

The Nugents will be attending Thursday’s inauguration, and then Mr. Nugent will play his guitar at the Texas/Wyoming Inaugural Ball.

Job well done

She’s held the post since 2001, and now U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James has submitted her letter of resignation to President Bush, effective Jan. 31.

“I have been privileged to lead the American civil service during a period of great change, especially after the horrific events of September 11th,” writes Mrs. James, who played a central role in the largest government merger since World War II — consolidating 22 agencies representing 180,000 employees, 15 different basic pay systems, and 17 separate labor unions into the new Department of Homeland Security.

“Public service is a noble profession, and our federal employees are true patriots charged with defending our homeland … often in the face of great personal sacrifice and danger,” she says of the 1.8 million federal workers.

Reflecting on her departure, she quotes former President Theodore Roosevelt as saying, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

“I intend to work equally hard and … maintain a voice in national policy discussions while participating in private and nonprofit solutions designed to improve the lives of our fellow citizens and further meaningful reforms,” Mrs. James says of her future.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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