Got an item about liberal lunacy? Conservative success? Send it in to ESR's Tidbits section!
Gore 2000 campaign aims for more than $20 million this year...Any monks around here with some extra cash?
Vice President Al Gore's new presidential campaign organization hopes to raise $20 million to $25 million in 1999, not including the millions in federal matching funds the Democratic hopeful expects to qualify for as he builds his Campaign 2000 war chest.
Gore mailed papers December 31 to the Federal Election Commission establishing a presidential campaign committee for the 2000 election. A formal announcement will not be made for a few months.
Gore was the third Democrat to form a committee seeking the party's presidential nomination in 2000. Former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey formed an exploratory committee the first week of December, and Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota also has established an exploratory committee to raise money.
Other possible contenders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination include House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
Another Democrat, Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, announced in December ago he would not seek the presidency in 2000.
Two sources familiar with the Gore political operation said the fund-raising staff of the political action committee Gore used to support candidates in the 1998 campaign cycle will move over to the new presidential campaign committee.
The sources said Craig Smith will officially take the title of campaign manager March 1, working as a consultant to Gore's campaign until then. He recently resigned as White House political director. Jose Villarreal, a prominent Hispanic activist in Texas Democratic politics and a deputy manager of Gore and President Clinton's 1992 campaign, will be the campaign treasurer, said Gore's chief of staff, Ron Klain.
Pollsters Mark Penn and Doug Schoen will fill the same role for Gore that they played in the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign, the sources said. The vice president's staff is negotiating for space in a downtown Washington building for its campaign headquarters.
One senior official familiar with the planning said Gore and his top aides are aware that forming a presidential campaign committee this early would mean "we start running the tab early," meaning some vice presidential travel will have to be paid for with campaign money because of its political motive.
But with the goal of raising more than $20 million this year, the source said, "Our cost-benefit analysis was that we needed to get going."
Nothing like starving something, destroying its moral and then giving
it a crumb
The proposal for an overall six-year increase of $100 billion, if approved by congressional appropriators, would be the first increase in Pentagon spending above inflation since 1991, the year of the Gulf War, and the largest since the Cold War buildup of the mid-1980s.
"We must undertake this effort today so that our nation will remain strong and secure tomorrow," the president said in a weekly radio address. He was responding to complaints by military leaders and Republicans critical of Clinton for the armed forces' declining readiness in the face of increased commitments abroad and aging weaponry and equipment.
The budget proposal, which will also include a 4.4 percent military pay raise, the largest since 1982, "will help us to do right by our troops by upgrading and replacing aging equipment, barracks and family housing," Clinton said.
The $12 billion would also pay for joint exercises, flight training, badly needed spare parts, recruiting and "the next generation" of ships, planes and weapons systems, Clinton said.
IRS unveils taxpayer-friendly measures
A new round-the-clock telephone help line and Saturday office hours are among new tax filing services which Clinton administration officials announced January 4 to mark the beginning of the annual tax-filing season.
"We hope that by doing our job better, people will understand that the IRS is not an enemy of the taxpayers at all," Charles Rossotti, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said.
"Our job is to be an agent to help the taxpayer meet the obligations," he said.
The tax filing season that ends April 15 marks the first test of the 1998 reform law intended in part to transform the much-maligned IRS into a friendlier, more service-oriented agency.
Some of these changes will take years to complete. But Rossotti and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said some things will be different right away -- such as fewer busy signals and less time spent on hold for people seeking information by phone.
Beginning the day of the announcement, the IRS will operate its taxpayer help lines (800-829-1040) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past, those lines were staffed 16 hours a day, six days a week.
"During this year's filing season, we'll never close," Rossotti said.
In addition, IRS offices in 250 locations will be open on 13 Saturdays between January 16 and April 10. Last year, such "help sessions" were held only on the last few Saturdays at a few locations before the April 15 tax filing deadline.
Taxpayers should call the IRS to find the office nearest them that will be open on Saturdays.
For people with Internet access, the IRS Web site (www.irs.ustreas.gov) features tax forms, changes in tax law, publications, tax tables, answers to frequently asked questions and links to other tax-related sites.
Rossotti also said the IRS has finished testing some 70 000 computer programs to ensure they are ready for 2000, when computer systems may be disrupted by a date-related glitch.
This tax filing season, he said, "is a test run" for those repairs -- and taxpayers should be on the lookout for errors such as wrong tax notices or failure to promptly receive a due refund.
"We will be prepared, if there are problems, to respond to them very quickly," Rossotti said.
Government theft with a smile!
Elizabeth Dole resigns Red Cross post, may test presidential waters
Elizabeth Dole resigned her post January 4 as president of the American Red Cross, hinting at a possible presidential bid in 2000 by saying there "may be another way for me to serve this country."
Dole said she had made no decision about future activities but close associates told media the resignation could be a first step in a run for the White House. Her departure from the nonpartisan Red Cross clears the way for her to test the political waters and put together a fund-raising plan.
"I will be leaving you," Dole told the crowd gathered at the Washington headquarters of the Red Cross. "I've not made definite plans about what I will do next. I didn't feel it was right to spend the time I owed to you thinking anything but our work together.
"Soon I will begin considering new paths. And there are exciting possibilities. I will choose one and pursue it with all my might," she said.
Asked afterward whether she will seek the presidency, Mrs. Dole replied: "I'm going to give it serious consideration, along with other options."
Dole, 62, is the wife of former Sen. Bob Dole, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1996. But Mrs. Dole impressed many on the trail campaigning for her husband and has long been mentioned as a possible GOP nominee for president or vice president.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll in October showed her second only to Texas Gov. George W. Bush among likely 2000 GOP hopefuls.
Dole previously insisted that she had no plans to run. But in a September speech, she said, "I guess I've learned in this world never to say never."
She served in the Cabinet as Transportation secretary from 1983 to 1987 and as Labor secretary from 1989 to 1990. She has headed the Red Cross since 1991.
A Harvard-trained lawyer originally from North Carolina, Dole has never held elected office. But she has a wide variety of experience in the federal bureaucracy since coming to Washington in the mid-1960s, including serving five years as a member of the Federal Trade Commission before joining the Cabinet during the Reagan and Bush years.
If she ran, Dole would join only a handful of women who have made presidential bids. Victoria Woodhull announced her candidacy in 1870, long before women even had the right to vote.
Ventura becomes Minnesota governor
Ventura took the oath of office at a star-studded ceremony attended by at least three former governors and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ventura's co-star in several movies.
"As I said on Election Night, certainly I'll make mistakes, but rest assured I will do the best job I possibly can," Ventura said. "I think that's all we ask of anyone in life."
Ventura spoke for about 15 minutes, much longer than promised, without prepared text except for a small note he read from his Navy SEAL drill instructor proclaiming his faith in Ventura.
He credited new, young voters with his success and said they must not be forgotten.
"We cannot fail. We must not fail. Because if we do, we could lose this generation. And we must not let that happen," he said. "It's those young people, it's those disenchanted voters we've reached out to and brought back to the system. We have to keep striving to do that."
He concluded with a battle cry, a remnant from his Navy days. "We are all Minnesotans. Now we move forward to do Minnesota's business and we will do it to the best of our ability. Hoo-ya!"
Ventura, whose only past political experience was four years as mayor of Brooklyn Park, a Minneapolis surburb, succeeds Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, who did not seek re-election after two terms.
Minnesotans shocked the nation November 3 when they gave him 37 percent of the votes in his defeat of Republican Norm Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, and Democrat Hubert Humphrey III, the son of the late vice president and, inauguration day, the state's attorney general.
He is the first Reform Party candidate to win statewide office in the nation.
"Governor-elect Ventura generated tremendous participation at the polls and new enthusiasm for the stake each of us has in government," state Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz said as the ceremony began. "We can all be grateful for the renewed vigor and involvement in our democratic process."
Ventura and his wife of 23 years, Terry Ventura, decided to forgo a black-tie ball in favor of a "people's celebration" bash on January 16, complete with live music.
Radio's Elder positioned for national exposure
The firebrand conservative-libertarian has reupped with Disney-owned KABC-AM Los Angeles under a new four-year deal that gives Disney's ABC Radio Network the first-look option on his services and the right to match any offer from rival radio syndicators.
Elder, who has already been approached by a number of national distributors, is expected to finalize a syndication deal within the next few months. He has been with KABC since March 1994 and is its highest-rated personality.
Elder, an L.A. native, hosted issue-oriented TV series for the local Fox and PBS affiliates in Cincinnati for several years before returning to southern California in 1994. Prior to breaking into the broadcasting business, he worked as a trial lawyer and later headed his own executive search firm specializing in attorneys.
Elder made a name for himself in the sprawling Los Angeles radio market through his provocative ideas on everything from limiting the power of the federal government to legalizing prostitution. He describes himself as "a fiscal conservative and social liberal"; as such, he's often out of step with both left and right ideological camps on controversial issues like abortion and social welfare programs.
"The fact that I'm a black man opposed to some of the positions that many black leaders have taken was something of an eyebrow-lifter when I started," said Elder.
"Now, I think our success has come more because the show is entertaining, provocative, humorous and even uplifting," he said. "We've got all four of those things going on, though not necessarily all at once."
Democratic donor pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions
A Miami businessman pleaded guilty in federal court January 5 to funneling illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
Juan Ortiz, chief financial officer of Future Tech International (FTI), pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he secretly reimbursed himself and eight other FTI employees with corporate funds for their individual $1 000 contributions at a 1995 fund-raising event at a Miami hotel.
Under the plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Ortiz could receive a maximum of one year in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman set sentencing for March 23.
Ortiz is cooperating with the Justice Department's campaign finance task force, which brought the charges.
The prosecutors are more interested in Ortiz' boss, FTI Chief Executive Officer Mark Jimenez. Officials have charged Jimenez with organizing and concealing the conduit scheme. Authorities say Jimenez is believed to have fled the United States.
Ortiz and his attorney refused to comment on the case.
Sinatra responsible for the class allegory embedded in his songs master narratives?
Frank Sinatra fans attending an academic conference at Hofstra University on his influence on American life were bewildered at the use of academic terminology such as "stranger-ness," "tropes," "hermeneutics of suspicion," "class allegory embedded in the master narrative," and "Sinatra-ism of the Left." During one panel that attributed Sinatra's success as the product of his "blue eyes" and white skin, one exasperated fan finally shouted out, "Why don't you go back to Moscow?"
Another panel pondered Sinatra's gradual political shift rightwards, evidenced when he gave his progressive-minded song "The House I Live In" a more patriotic feel when he sang it to Ronald Reagan in 1986 on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.
Survey Says... We Love Microsoft
Most Americans believe that Microsoft is good for consumers, and many believe that the current Justice Department antitrust case against Redmond was brought to benefit competitors and not customers, a survey revealed January 7.
The Citizens for a Sound Economy, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group, conducted the poll through research firm Wirthlin Worldwide. The data was based on a telephone poll of 1 010 consumers conducted over four days in December. Polling experts, with little to go on, questioned the integrity of the research.
"In reality, the government's case is not about consumers or competition," the group said in a statement. "It is about corporations using the government to gain an advantage in the marketplace."
The study data appears to support the group's claims. A majority of those polled, 52 percent, believe that the government is pursuing the antitrust case to help Microsoft's competitors. Most of those surveyed, 81 percent, feel that Microsoft is "good for American consumers."
When asked about the outcome of the trial, only 24 percent of consumers said they believe that the judge will find Microsoft guilty of alleged antitrust violations. Nearly twice as many -- 44 percent -- said Microsoft should be acquitted, while 32 percent said they didn't know.
Six out of 10 consumers feel it is innappropriate to discuss potential remedies the government might seek against Microsoft while the trial continues. While 29 percent of those surveyed said such discussions are appropriate, 12 percent said they didn't know.
The group said that computer savvy Gen-Xers are more likely to sympathize with Microsoft. Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of those surveyed in that age group said they have a favorable view of Microsoft, and 89 percent said Microsoft is "good for consumers."
Research firm Wirthlin Worldwide said that the margin of sampling error on the survey at a 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 3 percent.
James Love, director of the leftist Consumer Project on Technology, questioned the poll's findings.
"Citizens for a Sound Economy is one of the groups that has been rented to defend Microsoft," said Love. "Usually when there is a right-wing business group that starts popping up a bunch of Microsoft stuff, our guess is they are part of the Microsoft PR campaign."
Love said that most people believe that Microsoft products are a better choice than the alternative. "But if you ask the question, 'Does that company engage in anticompetitive practices?', I think the overwhelming response from polls is yes."
Liberal Wellstone won't run for White House
Sen. Paul Wellstone announced January 9 he will not run for president in 2000, removing a liberal threat to Vice President Al Gore.
"I've always said: 'Look, if I can do this presidential race and I can also do a good job for people of Minnesota, I'm going to do it both,'" the Minnesota Democrat said at a news conference at the state Capitol. "I will admit to you, I don't think I can."
Wellstone said he decided in the previous couple of weeks that he couldn't take the rigors of a presidential campaign because of chronic back pain from a ruptured disk.
"It's certainly always been manageable for Minnesota work. But traveling all over the country, constantly in planes and constantly in cars and going seven days a week, I don't think I can do that and represent Minnesota well," he said.
Only a month before Wellstone hinted strongly that, after more than a year of positioning himself for a White House bid, he was ready to run.
Wellstone also said he would not back off of an early pledge not to run for a third Senate term. He was first elected in 1990.
As one of the most outspoken liberals in Congress and a critic of the Clinton administration's centrist philosophy, he had been positioning himself as an alternative to Gore, the front-runner.
Wellstone's decision "will take the wind out of the left wing of the Democratic Party because Paul was very much their standard bearer," said Steven Schier, head of the political science department at Carleton College in Northfield, where Wellstone taught before his election.
Canadian native-born minorities earn same as whites: study
The notion that members of visible minorities are disadvantaged in the Canadian job market by virtue of their skin colour, an assumption that underlies various employment equity policies across Canada, as well as the federal government's policies for hiring contractors, according to a study which will be published next month by the University of Manitoba.
While labour market surveys have shown that members of visible minorities earn incomes 15 per cent below the national average, the new study shows that Canadian-born members of five visible-minority groups earn the same wages as their white counterparts.
Only those members of visible-minority groups who are also immigrants earn lower wages than other Canadians, the study shows.
"With the exception of black men, we find no statistically significant wage disadvantage for visible minorities who are native born," wrote the authors, Derek Hum and Wayne Simpson, professors of economics at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
The study is "a warning about simple-minded statements like 'we've got to help people of colour because they are all disadvantaged,' " said Prof. Hum. "It may or may not be true depending on what group we are talking about."
The authors found that Canadian-born Indo-Pakistani, Chinese, non-Chinese Oriental, Arab, and Latin American workers all earned the same wages as white, native-born Canadians with the same qualifications.
"Our results suggest that policies to achieve a colour-blind Canadian labour market may have to focus more on immigrant assistance and less on traditional employment equity legislation," they wrote.
Immigration-related factors not linked to skin colour, such as language skills and familiarity with the labour market, may contribute to the lower wages among non-white immigrants, according to the study.
Since a large proportion of visible minorities in Canada are immigrants, aggregate data (which group immigrant and non-immigrant individuals together) have previously led scholars, governments, and the press to conclude that members of visible minorities are disadvantaged by virtue of race.
The special case of black men underscores the danger of using "visible minority" as a catch-all classification in designing employment-equity policies, the authors say.
Canadian-born black men earned wages 24 per cent lower than those offered to Canadian-born whites and all other Canadian-born racial minority groups, the study shows.
The study's conclusion surprised the authors.
"We didn't start out thinking we would find these results," Prof. Simpson said yesterday. "We expected to find differences among the minority groups."
When the authors added immigration as a control variable, they found that race ceased to make a difference on wages.
"We did the analysis very carefully, and we've redone it in preparation for publication. The results are robust," said Prof. Simpson.
Under the working title Wage Opportunities for Visible Minorities In Canada, the study is the first attempt by scholars to clearly separate the effects of both immigration and minority status on wages in Canada. The authors expect to publish it in an academic journal next month.
Gay club fined for discriminating against transsexual...wait! I thought only the white male patriarchy could discriminate!
A British Columbia, Canada club that caters to homosexual men and lesbians may appeal an order to pay a C$2 000 to a transsexual who was barred from using the women's washroom before the sex change was completed.
The province's Human Rights Tribunal ruled January 12 that B.J.'s Lounge in Victoria discriminated against Tawney Sheridan when they barred Sheridan from the restroom after receiving complaints from female customers.
Sheridan was legally a man and awaiting the sex-change operation when the incident occurred 1995. Sheridan, who brought the issue to the human rights panel, has since received female genitalia and is living with her new husband in Oregon.
"Transsexuals in transition who are living members of the desired sex should be considered to be members of that sex," tribunal adjudicator Barbara Humphrey ruled.
Humphreys also said the club failed to prove that transsexuals use of the women's washroom would "interfere with the maintenance of public decency" or cause female patrons "undue hardship."
Club owner Bruce Winkler has not decided if he will appeal the decision but believes the lounge did not receive a fair hearing.
"(The ruling) declared open season for any guy who wants to throw on a dress and go look at women in the washroom," Winkler complained.
Sheridan praised the ruling and said she had always expected to win. "I didn't really expect any other result because B.C. is so accepting of different lifestyles," Sheridan said.
Publisher Larry Flynt levels accusations at Rep. Bob Barr
Barr denied the charges stating, "I have never perjured myself...I have never suggested, urged, forced or encouraged anyone to have an abortion."
In a late-night news conference in California on January 12, Flynt released an affidavit from Barr's former wife, Gail, in which she said Barr paid for an abortion she had in 1983 and that he never objected to it.
Barr said under oath in his 1986 divorce testimony that he did object to the abortion.
The ex-wife also said in the affidavit that she now believes Barr, while still married to her, began an affair with the woman he married a month after the divorce became final in 1986.
Neither Barr nor his current wife, Jeri, denied an affair when asked about it repeatedly during the divorce proceedings.
Flynt is offering up to $1 million for information about sexual indiscretions by members of Congress. He wouldn't say how much he paid Gail Barr for her affidavit, but said he found her "destitute" and made a "generous" financial offer.
Gail Barr declined comment.
Study: Most former Wisconsin welfare recipients now working
Most people who left Wisconsin's welfare rolls during the state's new welfare-to-work program found jobs, according to a new survey released January 13.
The study, Wisconsin's first attempt to document how former welfare recipients have fared, found 83 percent of those surveyed had worked at least part of the time since leaving the rolls in the first three months of 1998.
Sixty-eight percent of former recipients surveyed said getting a job was easier than living on welfare, though the same percentage said they were just barely making it financially.
The study was based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with 375 people who left the rolls of Wisconsin Works (the state's new welfare-to-work program) or the old program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
Wisconsin was one of the first states to implement a work-focused aid program after Congress overhauled welfare regulations in 1996.
President Clinton once called the Wisconsin program one of the "boldest, most revolutionary" welfare plans in the country.
About 62 percent of those former recipients surveyed said they were employed when interviewed.
Of those who stated they did not have jobs, one-third said they could not find one or did not have the necessary skills or experience.
That raised concerns among advocates for the poor.
"It is a work-based program, and you've got 38 percent of people who don't have a job," said Anne Arneson, director of the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families. "That's quite a lot."
Wisconsin Works requires recipients to work or receive job training
in order to receive benefits. In return, the state pays for child care,
transportation and other job-related costs.
Police in the U.S. who seize someone's property during a search do not have to provide information on how to get it back later, the Supreme Court ruled January 13.
The court voted unanimously to kill a California couple's lawsuit over the difficulty they had recovering cash taken by police during a search of their home.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court that when police seize property under a search warrant, due process requires them to give notice that the property was taken. Otherwise, the property's owner might not know who took it, he said.
But Kennedy added, "Once the property owner is informed that his property has been seized, he can turn to ... public sources to learn about the remedial procedures" for recovering the property later.
"The city need not take other steps to inform him of his options," Kennedy said.
Lawrence and Clara Perkins' home was searched by police in West Covina, California, in May 1993. The couple had rented a room to a man linked to a shooting death elsewhere in the town.
Among the items seized from the house was $2 469 in cash belonging to the Perkinses.
No one was at home when the house was searched, but police left a note saying they conducted the search under a court warrant. The note included a list of the items seized and contained a phone number to obtain further information.
Lawrence Perkins called the number and was told he needed a court order to get the money returned. Later, he was told there was nothing at the municipal courthouse under his name and that he needed a case number or search warrant number. No city employee told him how to find those numbers.
The Perkinses sued the city in 1993, saying the search violated their constitutional rights. The city returned the cash in mid-1994.
A federal judge ruled for the city, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the city violated Perkins' constitutional rights by giving inadequate notice on how to recover the cash.
In their ruling the Supreme Court said the appeals court was wrong.
To uphold that ruling, "we would be required to find that due process requires notice that not one state or the federal government has seen fit to require," Kennedy wrote.
His opinion was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for himself and Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed with the result.
Former softball coach settles lawsuit for $1.09 million
We told you about this case in early 1997, but were disappointed to hear about the result. Shakespeare was right about lawyers.
A U.S. college softball coach fired from her job in 1994 says she hopes
her $1.09 million settlement will show other women that they can make
a living in a sports world still dominated by men.
"Win or lose, I knew I was doing what I had to do."
Dugan was fired as interim softball coach after her teams went just
64-201 between 1988 and 1994. Then-athletic director Dutch Baughman
launched a search for her replacement in 1994, after the Beavers went
Even if they go 64-201?
The funny thing is that Dugan was passed over by committees primarily
composed...you guessed it, women!
Quayle announces 2000 GOP presidential bid
"I care deeply about this country. I care deeply about the American people," Quayle, 51, said during an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live." "I've thought about this for a long time. I've wanted to be president for a long time, and the year 2000 is looking like my opportunity to run."
Quayle told King that he will have major announcements on February 3 in Indianapolis and February 4 in Phoenix.
Before serving as vice president under former President George Bush from 1989 to 1993, Quayle was a senator from Indiana. He moved to Arizona in 1996.
Quayle said he was undaunted by the strong showings in early polls by Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole, with Quayle and other GOP contenders trailing behind.
"Polls are quite frankly irrelevant, and you don't make decisions on whether you're going to run for president based on a poll," he said. "If you are convinced that you are the best person to lead the country, then you make a go of it."
Quayle also expressed confidence that he would be able to raise enough money to be competitive with the rest of the field.
"It's a big country; $20 million is a lot of money, but I have no doubt whatsoever that I can raise that money," he said.
Quayle told the Indianapolis Star and News newspaper, which his family owns, that his campaign for president will be "a lot different" from his runs for the vice presidency.
"I will be in control. My agenda. My campaign. My staff," he said.
Quayle said he plans to push for a 30 percent tax cut and emphasize international policy.
"I am more prepared and more qualified than anyone else running," he said. "I have been talking about the importance of values ever since I ran for Congress back in 1976, and I've got a strong record. Having been vice president, I have experience no one else has. I visited 47 countries. I know the heads of state. I won't need on-the-job training."
His remarks were an apparent reference to Governor Bush and Dole, neither of whom has ever sought or held nationwide elected office.
Other potential GOP candidates include former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, Ohio Rep. John Kasich, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, broadcaster Pat Buchanan, millionaire publisher Steve Forbes and religious activist Gary Bauer.
Half believe a Super Bowl Bet is a better investment than Social Security
A new survey conducted by a joint Republican-Democrat pollster team and announced by the Generation X group Third Millennium and Oppenheimer Funds on January 21 finds that 52 per cent of Americans believe it is more likely that a pro wrestler will be elected president than likely that they will collect all the Social Security funds they are entitled to.
Other findings in the survey include:
Tidbit by The National Center for Public Policy Research
Bush targetted by fellow conservatives
Steve Forbes, Lamar Alexander and Gary Bauer, all presidential hopefuls, attacked early GOP front-runner, George W. Bush, and "mushy moderates" before the Conservative Political Action Committee on January 21.
Though he did not mention Bush by name, Forbes clearly was referring to the Texas governor and his "compassionate conservative" ideology.
"Mealy-mouthed rhetoric and poll-tested cliches are no substitute for a muscular, substantive agenda," Forbes, a millionaire businessman.
"If we allow ourselves to be seduced by the siren song of these mushy moderates, make no mistake: They will take us down to defeat once again," he said.
Forbes confirmed later that he had Bush and his "compassionate conservative" slogan in mind when he gave the speech. "The phrase itself is fine. The key is whether it will be followed by substantive issues the public wants," he said. "They've had enough sizzle. They want steak."
Broadening his attack, Forbes reminded the crowd of influential conservative activists that Bush's father, former President Bush, and Elizabeth Dole's husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, lost the last two presidential elections.
With Mrs. Dole and Bush's vice president, Dan Quayle, exploring presidential bids of their own, Forbes said the fledgling 2000 field includes names that "sound familiar. But, my friends, we have been down that electoral cul-de-sac twice before. I suggest we try something new for a change -- like winning."
Forbes was soon joined by other GOP hopefuls, including former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander and activist Gary Bauer, in drawing the battle lines between the party's conservative and establishment wings. The strategy is most important to Forbes and Alexander, neither of whom is well rooted in social conservative circles.
Alexander, Bauer and Forbes compared Bush's "compassionate conservative" slogan to his father's promise to be a "kinder and gentler" Republican. They want the conservative activists, many of whom are still angry at President Bush for raising taxes, to punish the son for the father's missteps.
"Not long after we qualified our language, we were qualifying our principles," Alexander said, referring to the elder Bush. "We accepted a tax increase ... and soon found ourselves vacating the White House for the first time in 12 years."
Bauer didn't criticize Bush in his speech, but told reporters that conservatives "need to know that the last Bush talked about kinder and gentler, and that resulted in an election loss."
Bush and Dole did not attend CPAC, but the governor's office quickly responded to the criticism.
"It is somewhat perplexing that fellow Republicans would attack a popular conservative governor of a very conservative state whose overwhelming re-election proved a conservative philosophy can erase the gender gap and attract a record number of minority voters while remaining true to conservative principles," said Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes.
IRS ordered to defend audits of Clinton enemies
Federal District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., has ordered the Internal Revenue Service to produce documents requested by Landmark Legal Foundation in its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to uncover the origins of referrals for audits of non-profit groups targeted for audits during the Clinton administration.
"This is a very significant victory," explained Landmark's President Mark R. Levin. "For two years we have sought the names of individuals or groups that may have urged the IRS to audit nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations. We want to determine whether the costly and time-consuming audits of scores of conservative and libertarian groups have been politically motivated."
The list of groups also includes the Western Journalism Center which first broke the story of the pattern of audits of organizations considered adversarial to the Clinton administration and its policies.
Western Journalism Center has identified more than two dozen groups that have been audited after criticizing the Clinton administration. In addition, many for-profit businesses and individuals -- including high-profile Clinton "enemies" such as Paula Jones, former White House Travel Office director Billy Dale and actress Elizabeth Ward Gracen -- have also been audit targets, raising suspicions of political abuse of the IRS.
Landmark's latest win follows a summary judgment in October by Judge Kennedy that ordered the IRS to waive processing fees to Landmark for the cost of the search for documents responsive to the Foundation's FOIA request. Fee waivers are normally granted as a matter of course to 501(c) (3) non-profit organizations such as Landmark.
"The IRS has thrown up every imaginable obstacle, every possible objection to block our request," Levin said. "So far, they've been unsuccessful and they have to produce the documents we've sought. When we receive them, we will review every word and every page to determine whether the IRS has been exploited by outside groups or individuals.
"The next challenge will come when we seek the information the IRS redacts from the documents they give us," commented Levin. "We're going to continue to fight as hard as we can to win this, one way or another."
Landmark Legal Foundation is a public-interest law firm with offices in Kansas City, MO, and Herndon, VA.
Sampling can't be used for American census
The U.S. Supreme Court on January 25 ruled out the use of statistical sampling to adjust the 2000 census to make up for an expected undercount.
The 5-4 ruling was a defeat for the Clinton administration, which had hoped statistical sampling would add population -- and subsequently House members -- to areas that traditionally vote Democratic.
The Census Bureau's plan to supplement the traditional head-count with statistical sampling was challenged in court by House Republicans and private citizens in six states. Two lower courts had upheld the challenge.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority that the census law directly prohibits use of statistical sampling to adjust figures used to allocate House members among the states.
"When Congress amended ... (the law) in 1976, it did not in doing so alter the long-standing prohibition on the use of sampling in matters relating to apportionment," she wrote.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice William Rehnquist joined O'Connor's opinion.
But the other four justices -- John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer -- agreed with administration attorneys, who had argued that the combination of sampling and the head-count was the best way to determine the U.S. population.
"The Census Act ... unambiguously authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to use sampling procedures when taking the decennial census," Stevens wrote in the dissenting opinion.
The ruling specifically barred the use of statistical sampling for apportionment, but left open the possibility of using the figures to draw election districts and distribute federal aid. Congress, however, could refuse to fund a second set of figures for those purposes.
The Census Bureau has estimated that some 4 million people were missed in the 1990 census.
Paula Jones shows up at Clinton speech in Arkansas
She received nearly a million dollars to settle her lawsuit and will live forever in the history books as the woman who began the investigation that turned into the second presidential impeachment trial ever, but Paula Corbin Jones isn't shrinking into the background.
On January 24, the woman who claimed she was propositioned by then-Gov. Bill Clinton in an Arkansas hotel room, attended an event in Beebe, Arkansas, also attended by the president.
Jones was spotted in the audience as the president made remarks to a crowd of residents outside a wrecked shell of the junior high school in an area hit hard by a tornado several nights earlier.
"I didn't come to see him," Jones told the press. "I came to see what they're going to do about the community."
Jones, who lives in California with her husband Steve, said she was visiting friends in the area when the tornado hit. Jones is from nearby Cabot, Arkansas.
Clinton seemed unaware that Jones was in the crowd. He ignored reporters who sought some reaction from him about Jones' presence.
Arizona Supreme Court upholds tax credit for private schools
The state Supreme Court on January 26 upheld a 1997 state law to give income-tax breaks to individuals who donated money for scholarships at religious and other private schools.
The court, in a 3-2 decision, rejected arguments that the tax credit of up to $500 violated state constitutional prohibitions against tax dollars being used to support religious education.
There is no indication that the authors of the Arizona Constitution "intended to divorce completely any hint of religion from all conceivably state-related functions, nor would such a goal be realistically attainable in today's world," Chief Justice Thomas A. Zlaket wrote for the majority.
The law was promoted by legislators and others who had been thwarted in previous efforts to win approval for school vouchers, which are cash grants to parents for tuition at private or public schools.
"It's the closest thing you can get to a full-blown vouchers program," said state Senate Education Committee Chairman John Huppenthal.
Zlaket wrote that there was no evidence the credit violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on government involvement in religion or the Arizona Constitution's ban on public money being used for churches or private schools.
One of the two dissenters, Justice Stanley G. Feldman, wrote that the tax credits were actually "uncontrolled, government-reimbursed grants to private, primarily religious institutions" and that the court's decision destroyed "any pretense of separation of church and state."
The challenge was brought by a teachers union and other public school supporters.
On November 9, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a legal challenge to Wisconsin's 8-year-old school voucher program.
Fed chair rips Clinton plan
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said January 28 that investing social security funds in the stock market would be risky to the economy
Greenspan, speaking before the Senate Budget Committee, said it would
be impossible to protect the system from partisan pressures.
Clinton wants $4 billion to fight global warming
The Clinton administration, stymied in getting quick acceptance of the Kyoto climate treaty, will seek $4 billion next year to pursue an "aggressive, common-sense" policy that addresses the threat of global warming.
White House officials disclosed late January 25 that President Clinton intends to propose as part of his next budget sharp increases in climate-change related spending and tax breaks in hopes of reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Vice President Al Gore said the additional spending, which is expected to meet stiff resistance in Congress, represents "significant new investments to accelerate our aggressive, commonsense efforts to meet the challenge of global warming."
The proposals will be part of the fiscal 2000 budget the president will send to Congress this month.
A linchpin of the climate initiative will be a plan to create a $200 million "clean air partnership fund" that would be used to generate millions of dollars more in state and private funds to help reduce greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
A senior White House official said the money, which in many cases will be tied to promises of state matching funds, can be used for a wide variety of programs from retrofitting buildings to purchasing more fuel-efficient or cleaner burning vehicles.
Some of the funds would be used to promote public-private partnerships to reduce greenhouse gases, including voluntary efforts by companies to improve energy efficiency.
The administration will argue to Congress that the funds will be earmarked for programs that not only address climate change, but also reduce urban smog and other air pollution by reducing emissions from automobiles or coal-burning power plants.
The initiative will help states and communities meet tougher smog requirements and other clean air rules being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, officials said.
"Efforts to address global warming can at the same time help to protect public health," said Gore of the new spending programs.
The administration also is proposing $105 million, more than double the current levels, for research into how agriculture and forests can offset greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide.
Much of the climate package -- including proposals for more than $1.4 billion in tax incentives -- are aimed at promoting energy efficiency and spurring developing of new energy technologies to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
Congressional opposition, especially among Republicans leery of the Kyoto climate agreement, is likely to be strong again this year.
One week earlier, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, demanded that the White House send the Kyoto climate treaty up for ratification, sure that such an attempt would fail. Administration officials have said they don't expect the treaty to be submitted to Congress until after the 2000 election.
D.C. mayor's aide quits after word is taken as racial slur...political
correctness gone insane!
But even as he stepped down, David Howard, who is white, said the word does not have any racial connotation.
"Mr. Howard's resignation was prompted by reports that he made an inappropriate racial comment," newly-elected Mayor Anthony Williams, who is black, said in a statement that night.
In a separate statement, Howard identified the word he used as "niggardly" in a staff meeting and said he was referring to a fund he administers. Howard said it means "miserly."
Webster's Tenth Edition concurs, defining it as "grudgingly mean about spending or granting." The dictionary dates its use to the late 16th century.
Williams told reporters that holding a senior public office required good judgment, adding, "I don't think that the use of this term showed the kind of judgment that I like to see in our top management."
Because the word sounds like a racial epithet, Howard said, he realized other members of the mayor's staff present when he made the remark were offended. He said he quickly apologized.
But he said that since he made the remark on January 15, he has received many angry phone calls from people who thought he made a racist remark. About two-thirds of the capital city's half million population is black.
"I would never think of making a racist remark," said Howard, whose job was to hear the concerns of district residents and bring them to the attention of the mayor and his staff.
"I realize that this rumor has severely compromised my effectiveness as the district's public advocate and, in the best interest of my office, I resigned," he said.
In accepting Howard's resignation, Williams said he is "committed to representing all of the people of our city and making sure my administration truly reflects the city's diversity."
Williams said the issue reflects a "hurt" and "great divide" within the city and that race relations must be talked about openly in the nation's capital.
That prompted an attack by none other than Julian Bond, chair of the NAACP.
"You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people's lack of understanding," Julian Bond said, noting "niggardly" means stingy and has no offensive connotation even though it sounds similar to a slur.
"This whole episode speaks loudly to where we are on issues of race. Both real and imagined slights are catapulted to the front burner."
"Seems to me the mayor has been niggardly in his judgment on this issue," Bond said pointedly. In addition to being chairman of the largest civil rights organization, Bond teaches at the University of Virginia and is a student of language.
"We have a hair-trigger sensibility and I think that is particularly true of racial minorities," he said. "These affronts do happen, they are expected to happen, and even innocent parties can find themselves victims."
Dictionaries and other language references trace the word to Scandinavia and attribute no offensive meaning to it. It is not even in the Forbidden American English, a dictionary of 1 400 "highly offensive and often inflammatory" words and phrases.
New Orleans under fire for gun swap with Glock
Remember when ESR told you a few months ago about several cities suing gun manufacturers to hold them responsible for other people's actions? Well, the plot thickens!
Officials in New Orleans are under fire for their February 1998 decision -- made public only in late January by Glock -- to trade thousands of confiscated weapons and old service pistols for new guns for city police.
Police traded 7 200 confiscated weapons and old 9 mm pistols for about 1 700 new Glock .40-caliber weapons. The deal was sanctioned by the New Orleans City Council and signed by Mayor Marc Morial.
But New Orleans residents weren't aware of the gun swap until January 28 when Morial and an official from gun maker Glock Inc. faced off in a broadcast interview on government lawsuits against the gun industry. The interview was conducted on NBC's "Today" show.
During a heated debate, Paul Jannuzzo, Glock's vice president and general counsel, publicly accused Morial and New Orleans of hypocrisy for putting weapons back into the commercial marketplace while simultaneously suing the gun industry.
Last year, New Orleans and Chicago became the first cities to sue the industry for allegedly not doing enough to curb gun violence. Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Miami-Dade County, Florida, filed similar lawsuits in late January.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans, a private watchdog group, said the city could find itself the target of a lawsuit, if one of the traded weapons were used in a crime.
"To learn that the city has exported 7 000 guns seized from street criminals to other parts of the country is really mind-boggling and the height of hypocrisy," said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the commission.
Under the deal, the swapped guns are not to be resold in Louisiana, but New Orleans police admit there is no guarantee that some of the weapons won't make their way back into the state.
The guns are expected to be sold through a federally licensed dealer to people who meet legal standards, Deputy Police Superintendent Duane Johnson said during a news conference.
"We have an obligation to the people of New Orleans and our officers to give them the most technologically advanced equipment possible," Johnson said, defending the decision.
To use against who?
© 1996-2019, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.