- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2008

CONGRESS

GOP demands role in stimulus bill

Congressional Republicans on Monday said they would work with Democrats to craft a plan to stimulate the economy, but only if their ideas are considered for a bill that could cost as much as $1 trillion.

“We need the right mix of tax relief and other measures to grow the economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

The Democrats’ plan to pass a yet-unwritten stimulus bill before President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month gives Congress too little time to consider what’s in it, he said.

“Taxpayers are in no mood to have a single dollar wasted, but it’s not yet been explained how their tax dollars will be protected … in a rush to spend their money,” Mr. McConnell added.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, issued a similar statement.

Mr. McConnell and Mr. Boehner both said that there should be hearings on what’s in the bill and that the legislation should be posted online for public review for a week before it’s brought up for votes in the House and Senate.

POSTAL SERVICE

Stamps to mark early days of TV

Lucy and Ethel lose their struggle with a chocolate assembly line. Joe Friday demands “just the facts” with a penetrating gaze. A secret word brings Groucho a visit from a duck.

Folks who grew up as television came of age will delight in a 20-stamp set included in the Postal Service’s plans for 2009 recalling early memories of the medium.

Besides commemorating black-and-white TV, the service’s 2009 postage stamp program will commemorate President Lincoln, the Thanksgiving Day parade, civil rights pioneers, actor Gary Cooper, poet Edgar Allan Poe, Supreme Court justices, and Alaska and Hawaii statehood.

Most of the commemorative stamps are priced at 42 cents, the current first-class rate. However, a rate increase is scheduled in May, and the size will depend on the consumer price index.

The Early TV Memories stamp set is scheduled for release Aug. 11 in Los Angeles.

MEDIA

Caroline Kennedy earns bad reviews

ALBANY, N.Y. | Caroline Kennedy’s latest trip under the spotlight as a Senate hopeful didn’t get much better reviews than her first.

A New York Daily News columnist said: “The wheels of the bandwagon are coming off.” New York Post state editor Fred Dicker already put her on his list of 2008 losers. And the New York Times said, “She seemed less like a candidate than an idea of one: eloquent but vague, largely undefined and seemingly determined to remain that way.”

On Friday after weeks of silence, she agreed to sit down for interviews with the Associated Press and New York City cable TV’s NY1. Over the weekend, she scheduled another round of interviews with organizations from the Times to the Buffalo News. The New York Daily News noted that she frequently used the phrases “you know” and “um” during the interview, which was skewered in political blogs Monday.

“There has been some very rough comments,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College poll.

“I have been surprised,” he said. “The welcome mat has not been out from everybody.”

RNC

Parodist defends Obama-related song

A Memphis man who wrote and produced a musical parody of a Los Angeles Times columnist attacking President-elect Barack Obama says Republican infighting over the song is misguided, Scripps Howard News Service reports.

Blaming what he calls “Washington politics,” political satirist Paul Shanklin defended his song, “David Ehrenstein’s ‘Barack the Magic Negro,’ ” which takes its title from a near-identically titled Ehrenstein column in which the gay writer ridiculed the Obama candidacy as a salve for guilty whites.

Mr. Shanklin also defended Chip Saltsman, the former Tennessee Republican Party chairman who created a stir recently when he mailed a CD containing Mr. Shanklin’s song and 40 others to colleagues. Mr. Saltsman is among several candidates who want to become chairman of the Republican National Committee.

“They are trying to paint Chip as some kind of racist - which he’s not,” Mr. Shanklin said. “Whether he should have sent it out, I’ll let history decide. Is it provocative? Well, most political satire is. What I do for a living is major league provocative.”

REPUBLICANS

Palin daughter gives birth to son

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | The daughter of former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has given birth to a son, a magazine reported Monday.

Bristol Palin, 18, gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on Sunday, People magazine reported online. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces. Colleen Jones, Miss Palin’s great aunt, told the magazine that “the baby is fine and Bristol is doing well.”

The governor’s office said it would not release information, calling the baby’s birth a private, family matter. Palin family members, hospital employees and spokespeople for the governor’s former running mate, Sen. John McCain, either would not confirm the birth or did not return messages from the Associated Press.

The father is Levi Johnston, a former hockey player at Alaska’s Wasilla High School.

Mrs. Palin announced Sept. 1, the first day of the Republican National Convention, that her unwed daughter was pregnant. The campaign issued a statement saying Miss Palin “and the young man” would get married. Mr. Johnston’s mother eventually disclosed that her 18-year-old son was the father.

COURTS

Trailer-case judge rejects class action

NEW ORLEANS | A judge has refused to grant class-action status to the lawsuits of hundreds of Gulf Coast hurricane victims who claim they were exposed to potentially toxic formaldehyde fumes while living in emergency trailers.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt ruled Monday that a batch of lawsuits against the federal government and trailer manufacturers can’t be handled as a collective class-action claim. The trailers and mobile homes were brought in to use as emergency shelters after two hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.

The federal judge says each plaintiff’s claim is unique and must be examined individually.

Formaldehyde is a preservative that can cause breathing problems and is classified as a carcinogen.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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