- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Forgot the peasants

President Bush thought he had it tough in acknowledging prominent U.S. leaders seated in the crowd.

The White House calls our attention to the opening line of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s “World Affairs” speech yesterday to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, which began:

“My Lord Mayor, My Late Lord Mayor, Your Grace, My Lord High Chancellor, Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner, Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Double endorsement

Political observer Arianna Huffington says Time magazine has asked her to take part in a panel discussion today to discuss who should be its “Person of the Year,” but her mind is already made up.

She will nominate Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, among the most outspoken congressional critics on the war in Iraq. Mrs. Huffington says her “mind immediately turned to [Mr. Murtha] because, contrary to what [White House political adviser] Karl Rove would like you to believe, this election was all about Iraq.”

She writes in her online Huffington Post that Mr. Murtha, a former U.S. Marine, “was a key reason the midterms became a national referendum on the war.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Huffington is also backing the congressman in his bid to become the new House majority leader when the House Democratic Caucus votes on Thursday.

“If it weren’t for Jack Murtha, they’d be voting for minority leader,” Mrs. Huffington says of Democrats who won the majority in Congress in last Tuesday’s elections.

Nuts and bolts

We’ve repeatedly heard that the 109th Congress is a “do-nothing Congress.”

Actually, legislative progress has been made, albeit at a much slower pace than one side — read Democrats — would have preferred.

Scanning some of the more interesting congressional activity tables found in the latest Congressional Record, here’s a partial resume of the current Congress, spanning its second (since Jan. 3) and soon-to-expire final session.

In all, there were 58 public bills enacted into law, 478 measures approved and 176 simple resolutions passed. In addition, there were 27,833 nominations to federal posts that were confirmed (504 remain unconfirmed), 17 were withdrawn, and only 29 returned to the Republican White House.

We’ll see how that number changes now that the Democrats are in charge of the hearings.

Hill repair

Looking forward (aren’t we?) to the upcoming 110th Congress, we see Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, the main architect of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, has co-written with Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution a new report: “Restoring Order: Practical Solutions to Congressional Dysfunction.”

The pair offer suggestions to leaders of the next Congress on how to repair the processes for deliberation, oversight and ethics, which they will expand upon during an AEI forum Thursday at 10:15 a.m.

Worm goes fishing

Who wasn’t alarmed upon hearing last week that our children and grandchildren won’t be able to order swordfish and lobster off the menu because the world’s fisheries are going to collapse by 2048?

It seems man’s gluttony for seafood has led to an overharvesting of the world’s waters. Or has it?

The Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), in a response headlined “Worm goes fishing,” charges that the study’s lead author, Canadian scientist Boris Worm, was “trolling” for media hype when he issued the following scary statement:

“Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world’s ocean, we saw the same picture emerging. I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are — beyond anything we suspected.”

Hold your sea horses. And don’t be stocking up on sardines, either.

“The fish-extinction bombshell appears to be more about attracting attention and prestige than objective truth- seeking,” counters the CCF. “Case in point: Worm accidentally sent a note meant for his colleagues to the Seattle Times, in which he wrote that the scary prediction could act as a ‘news hook to get people’s attention.’ ”

That said, the CCF has been busy compiling reaction from “notable fisheries experts” critical of the study, including University of British Columbia professor Kyle Waters, who reportedly told National Public Radio that the findings are “extremely misleading” and “wrong.”

Then there’s Ray Hilborn, a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington, who labeled Mr. Worm’s predictions “just mind-boggling stupid.”

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

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