- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

Comedy duo

Mindful that his push to reform Social Security is not exactly capturing the imagination of the public, President Bush yesterday enlisted comedian Ben Stein to help sell the initiative.

“Ben, you always draw a good crowd,” the president said to Mr. Stein at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. “You went to high school here?”

“Class of ‘62,” he replied. “The best class ever.”

“You’re so old, you don’t even qualify as a baby boomer,” Mr. Bush cracked, drawing laughter.

“Thank you, Mr. President,” Mr. Stein deadpanned.

At one point, the comedian said he was “representing for the gangstas all across the world — hidden corners in the low-lows, girl. That’s rap music, Mr. President.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Bush, who couldn’t help but notice the incongruity of Mr. Stein’s business suit and running shoes.

“Where does a guy get a pair of shoes like that?” he asked.

“You can get them at a place called FrontRunners, in Brentwood, California,” Mr. Stein said.

“Never mind,” the president concluded. “Thank you all for coming.”

Euros for terrorists

“Who’s funding the insurgents in Iraq? The list of suspects is long: ex-Baathists, foreign jihadists, and angry Sunnis, to name a few. Now add to that roster hard-core Euroleftists,” U.S. News & World Report says.

“Turns out that far-left groups in Western Europe are carrying on a campaign dubbed Ten Euros for the Resistance, offering aid and comfort to the car bombers, kidnappers, and snipers trying to destabilize the fledgling Iraq government,” reporter David E. Kaplan writes at www.usnews.com.

“In the words of one Italian website, Iraq Libero (Free Iraq), the funds are meant for those fighting the occupanti imperialisti. The groups are an odd collection, made up largely of Marxists and Maoists, sprinkled with an array of Arab emigres and aging, old-school fascists, according to Lorenzo Vidino, an analyst on European terrorism based at the Investigative Project in Washington, D.C. ‘It’s the old anticapitalist, anti-U.S., anti-Israel crowd,’ says Vidino, who has been to their gatherings, where he saw activists from Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Italy. ‘The glue that binds them together is anti-Americanism.’ ”

Court speculation

“Warning: THIS IS SPECULATION. Obviously, I think it’s somewhat well-informed speculation, or else I wouldn’t be writing this. But it is speculation,” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol wrote yesterday at www.weeklystandard.com.

“(1) There will be a Supreme Court resignation within the next week. But it will be Justice O’Connor, not Chief Justice Rehnquist. There are several tea-leaf-like suggestions that O’Connor may be stepping down, including the fact that she has apparently arranged to spend much more time in Arizona beginning this fall. …

“(2) President Bush will appoint Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to replace O’Connor. Bush certainly wants to put Gonzales on the Supreme Court. Presidents usually find a way to do what they want to do,” Mr. Kristol said.

“And his aides will have an argument to make to conservatives (like me) who would be unhappy with a Gonzales pick: Bush would not, after all, be replacing a conservative stalwart like Rehnquist with Gonzales. Gonzales would be taking O’Connor’s seat, and Gonzales is likely to be as conservative as, or even more conservative than, O’Connor.

“Indeed, Karl Rove will continue, Gonzales is as conservative a nominee to replace O’Connor as one could find who could overcome a threatened Democratic filibuster. Bush aides will also assure us privately that when Rehnquist does step down, Bush will nominate a strong conservative as his replacement. They might not tell us that nominee would be as an associate justice, for Bush would plan to then promote Gonzales to chief justice — thus creating a ‘Gonzales Court,’ a truly distinctive Bush legacy.”

Bolton’s achievement

“There’s an obvious answer to Democrats who claim John Bolton is too abrasive to succeed as President Bush’s U.N. ambassador — he spearheaded the successful fight to get the U.N. to reverse its notorious ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“The Anti-Defamation League warmly commended him when he did what many had thought impossible in 1991. ADL chief Abe Foxman wrote a letter backing his so-far stalled nomination as U.N. envoy this spring,” Miss Orin said.

” ‘We will long remember him as a man of principle and integrity who, as assistant secretary of state for international organizations, played a leading role in the successful U.S. effort to repeal the infamous resolution,’ he wrote.

“What’s weird is that Team Bush has barely mentioned Bolton’s triumph in its battle to stop a Democratic filibuster and get the U.S. Senate to confirm Bolton.”

A big goof

An employee mistake led to the Florida Democratic Party not paying some of its Social Security and payroll taxes in 2003, a former chairman said Wednesday in the wake of the party being slapped with a lien by the Internal Revenue Service.

Former party chief Scott Maddox, who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, said a party comptroller filed the payments electronically, but they apparently were not received. The employee resigned Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

“She made a mistake and did not tell her supervisor,” Mr. Maddox said.

While the party owes roughly $200,000 in delinquent payroll and Social Security taxes, the lien was placed last Friday against the remaining $98,000 in its accounts, Leon County committeeman Jon Ausman said Tuesday.

Battle of Hastings?

The chairman of the House ethics committee may quit because of the ongoing deadlock with panel Democrats over how the panel should function and their multiple attacks on his leadership, the New York Times reported yesterday.

Rep. Doc Hastings, Washington Republican, has reportedly expressed his frustration to fellow lawmakers and told them privately he may leave the post, according to the article.

However, congressional sources told Amy Fagan of The Washington Times yesterday that while Mr. Hastings is angry and frustrated at the unwillingness of panel Democrats to compromise, he is not yet ready to vanquish his post.

A senior GOP aide told The Times the normally even-tempered Mr. Hastings is “steamed” at the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia, because the Democrat has made disparaging remarks about Mr. Hastings in recent press reports and has misrepresented Mr. Hastings’ proposal on how to staff the committee.

Neither Mr. Hastings nor his office responded to a request for comment.

The panel has been fighting for months, preventing it from advancing cases on any potential members, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

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

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