- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bush levitates

Official White House pool report, dated yesterday: “After a dense morning fog cleared, President George W. Bush lifted off from Camp David with first lady Laura Bush for a weeklong trip to his Texas ranch after spending Christmas at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.”

Arkansas motivator

If we were to ask readers to name a musically inclined Southern Baptist politician who grew up in the town of Hope, Ark., who became governor of his state and later chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), you’d probably answer Bill Clinton.

And you’d be correct.

But did you know that Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also hails from Hope, is a talented musician (bass guitar), a Baptist churchgoer, and even chaired the NGA? And for more than a year, as was the case with Mr. Clinton, he’s been mentioned as a likely contender for the White House.

Next month, just in time for a 2008 candidacy, Mr. Huckabee’s newest book, “From Home to Higher Ground,” will arrive in bookstores. Our early copy explains how Americans can build a better country through simple lifestyle and attitude changes.

Earlier this year, Mr. Huckabee authored a different sort of motivational book, “Stop Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.” The book was an instant best-seller, showing readers how self-discipline, diet and exercise can lead to a happier, healthier lifestyle.

In 2003, the governor was warned by his doctors that he’d be dead within a decade if he didn’t lose weight. He immediately began exercising and controlling his diet, and soon lost more than 110 pounds.

Rosie rules

Partly because Washington is world headquarters for the legal profession — and partly because he delivers the best Christmas gifts to reporters — Inside the Beltway is pleased once again to present Washington malpractice lawyer Jack H. Olender’s (his firm is located at 888 17th Street NW, should you ever find a wrong toe amputated) “Top Ten Legal Predictions for 2007.”

We should point out that Mr. Olender’s annual predictions have a 90 percent success rate to date. So, without further ado:

1. Old Lawyers Never Die, They Just Lose Their Jobs: Large law firms are terminating lawyers at a defined age — 65, 68, 70, pick a number. Mandatory retirement is fairly new at law firms, as lawyers with “experience” were once considered a firm’s backbone.

2. $200,000 Signing Bonuses Aren’t Just for Athletes: The current signing bonus for former Supreme Court clerks joining major law firms is $200,000.

3. More Long-distance Medical Malpractice: Given Americans save as much as 80 percent on surgery in foreign countries, look for more long-distance medical-malpractice claims.

4. More Malpractice by Gynecologists Performing Cosmetic Surgery: Doctors in many specialties are being invited to take crash courses to learn (or so they think) procedures from another specialty.

5. Animal Law Grows: With a nation of animal lovers, it’s no surprise that the number of animal-law practitioners continues to climb.

6. Lawyers Behaving Themselves: State bars and courts have toughened discipline, making lawyers toe the line.

7. Outsource All The Lawyers? Not quite, but lawyers and law firms are outsourcing a lot of their clerical, accounting and, yes, legal work to lawyers and firms in far-away places, such as India.

8. “Deal or No Deal” Contingent Fees: The days when “silk-stocking lawyers” at “white shoe” law firms looked down their collective noses at personal injury and malpractice lawyers who handle cases on a contingent-fee basis are long gone.

9. Bloggers Beware: An $11 million Florida jury award for a woman who claimed she was defamed on an Internet message board sends this message to all bloggers: Watch what you say on the Internet, or risk a damage lawsuit for libel and slander.

10. Employers and Pornography: Civil liability for money damages will become a factor in getting employers to monitor computer use to prevent the transmission of porn, for which employers can be held responsible.

Bonus Prediction — “The Donald” Won’t Sue Rosie: DonaldTrump’s threatened lawsuit against Rosie ODonnell won’t happen. Mr. Trump is too smart a businessman to file a frivolous lawsuit.

I hereby resolve

A reminder that Inside the Beltway is once again collecting New Year’s resolutions, inviting readers to tell politicians — indeed, members of the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress — what they’d like them to accomplish in the coming year.

Please include your name and address when sending resolutions to the e-mail address below or to John McCaslin, c/o The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C., 20002

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

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