Longing for Yogi

John McCaslin
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Posted: Dec 09, 2003 12:00 AM

Disney's new animated feature "Brother Bear" is following the anti-hunting footsteps of "Bambi" as it hits theatres in time for the holidays - and hunting season.

So charges the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, which says Brother Bear (we haven't seen the flick) is about a young Indian hunter, Kenai, who is transformed into a bear. Soon, Kenai becomes the adoptive father of a cub, only to find that another hunter - like he once was - is stalking the animal.

"In sportsmen's eyes, the Disney flick could not come at a poorer time," says the alliance, which is preparing for campaigns in Maine and Alaska "to protect bear hunting from anti-hunting attacks that promise to be on the 2004 ballot."

Meanwhile, the alliance says that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has "gone overboard" by modifying a film poster from the Disney blockbuster "Finding Nemo" to promote its anti-fishing campaign.

Disney's cartoon fish, Nemo and Marlin, appear on PETA's Web site and leaflets that read, "Fish are friends, not food!"

ARNOLD'S ADVISERS

Congress has a passed a resolution honoring Sargent Shriver for his years of military and public service, especially as ambassador for the poor and powerless of America.

It was back in 1961 that the Kennedy inlaw organized the Peace Corps, and he didn't stop there. Later, during Lyndon Johnson's administration, he helped establish Head Start, VISTA, Community Action, Job Corps, Legal Services, Foster Grandparents, Indian and Migrant Opportunities, and Neighborhood Health Services.

Later, Johnson appointed Shriver ambassador to France.

In 1972, he was picked to be the Democratic vice presidential running mate of South Dakota Sen. George McGovern, although that's not to say that Shriver doesn't support a Republican every now and then.

In fact, you might say the chairman of the board emeritus of Special Olympics and wife Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President John F. Kennedy's sister, are unpaid advisers to their Republican son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the newly-crowned governor of California.

"He (Schwarzenegger) has been committed to people all his life," Eunice Shriver offers as her excuse.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

A recent briefing on the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston got off to an aggressive start when the chief executive officer, Rod O'Connor, accused the Republican Party of exploiting the Sept. 11 attacks by choosing New York City as site of its convention.

After being introduced by Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, O'Connor remarked: "All indications are that Republicans have gone to New York to exploit a terrible moment in our nation's history."

The 2004 Republican National Convention takes place the last week of August, one month after the Democratic convention.

'60s FLASHBACK

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate whether the FBI recently conducted surveillance of American antiwar demonstrators.

"This report is deeply disturbing," the Democratic presidential candidate wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) after reading a newspaper account of the contention.

"Law enforcement officials, of course, should take necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and lawful," Edwards wrote, "but this report suggests that federal law enforcement may now be targeting individuals based on activities that are peaceful, lawful and protected under our Constitution."

He then saw fit to go a step further, charging that "the FBI has a history of harassing individuals based on their political views."

"In the 1960s and '70s, when J. Edgar Hoover was the bureau director," he wrote to Hatch, "agents routinely spied on civil rights demonstrators, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and on Vietnam War protesters."

As for today, Edwards says guidelines developed by the Justice Department in the 1970s to govern domestic surveillance by the FBI "have been substantially weakened by Attorney General John Ashcroft."

RELIGIOUS LEFT

You've heard about the Religious Right. So why not the Religious Left?

The African American Ministers Leadership Council, which calls itself "non-partisan," is launching a national voter registration, education and mobilization campaign in preparation for the 2004 presidential election.

Dubbed "Sanctified Seven - Victory Through Voting," the campaign will be active in the controversial voting state of Florida, as well as Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The aim is to encourage black participants to register every few weeks at least seven members of their community to vote in the 2004 election.

"For years now, the Religious Right has co-opted the language of the church and the language of the Bible and used it as a tool to motivate people in ways that conflict with our core beliefs and that are harmful to our communities," says Rev. Arnold Howard, chair of the AAMLC.

"For this reason, we are asking our clergy and our congregations to dedicate themselves to countering the rhetoric of the Religious Right by mobilizing voters within their communities."

DEMS COURT INDIAN VOTERS

The Democratic Party has embarked on its own effort to encourage American Indians to use their votes as a means to make change within their communities.

In states that have a significant Indian population where Senate races will be on the ballots in 2004 - South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Oklahoma and Washington - the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, through its Native Vote 2004 initiative, is pledging to infuse funds and education to the American Indian populations.

One of DSCC's poster boys is Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), who was re-elected in 2002 by only 528 votes. The senator credits voter turnout on the nine reservations in his state for his victory.

"Too many elected officials are virtually indifferent to questions of tribal sovereignty, treaty and trust obligations because they don't fear or respect the native vote," says Johnson, co-chairman of the DSCC Native Vote 2004. "They don't think the native population will turn out in any significant numbers. We have to change that."

SHUNNED LADIES

The largest bipartisan women's business group isn't happy that the House has "brushed off" until next year a vote on small business and women-owned business programs. What's the big deal?

We'll have you know that roughly half - 46 percent - of privately-held U.S. companies are now owned by women, and yet these women-owned businesses receive just 2.9 percent of all federal contracts,

"Women and small business owners will be working through the holidays, and Congress should finish their work too," says Women Impacting Public Policy President Terry Neese (the Senate passed its bill for the programs in September).

The legislation, titled the Small Business Administration Reauthorization Act, safeguards federal contracts for small and women-owned businesses and ensures fair treatment of small business subcontractors. The bill was delayed after talks between the House Government Reform and Small Business Committees collapsed late last month.

"The holidays won't be so bright for women and small business owners," says Neese, who says small businesses lose as much as $26 billion annually in federal contracts to big business. Women-owned businesses, she says, are currently losing $5.5 billion annually in federal contracts.

PLUGGING AMERICA

Touting a different America than the one described by "thugs and assassins," Assistant Secretary of State Patricia S. Harrison welcomes thousands of foreign exchange students, teachers and leaders to this country as head of the bureau of educational and cultural affairs.

"We are very proud of our accomplishments," she told this column after a recent speech to Fulbright foreign language fellows at the Washington Marriott.

"When . . . you return home . . . you will be able to share your first-hand knowledge of the United States with your students, friends and families," she told the fellows. "You will be able to tell them about an America that exists beyond the headlines, beyond television news in your countries and ours."

She specifically asked that the fellows convey to their countrymen that "even after the events of Sept. 11 we are open and welcoming and want even more students from other countries to come here to study."

As this column noted last week, during a trip to Baghdad in September, Harrison helped make arrangements for a concert at the Kennedy Center featuring the Iraq National Symphony Orchestra (Dec. 9).

CREDIT CARD 101

It wasn't long ago that a good education consisted of reading, writing and arithmetic.

"Unfortunately, we left one vital skill out of the mix," says Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-Wy.). "As an accountant, I have become increasingly concerned about the lack of knowledge we have as a society, and especially the lack of insight we share with our children about money and how to properly handle it, budget it, and use it to plan for their retirement."

The senator calls "quite startling" the number of young people leaving college today with mountains of personal credit card debt. Besides parents and students, he blames "eager banks" and "easily available credit." So, the accountant-turned-senator has introduced the Financial Literacy in Higher Education Act, to help make young people "wiser" users of consumer credit.

STILL TOURING

As we all heard after President Bush's surprise visit to Iraq, President Bill Clinton never visited Haiti after he deployed U.S. troops there. But his former health and human services secretary, we learn, has recently helicoptered to the Haiti's central plateau.

University of Miami President Donna Shalala last week toured health clinics on the island, explaining that as HHS secretary she visited many countries, but never Haiti. She was accompanied by a United Nations delegation that is looking to establish medical partnerships with the needy nation, the poorest country in the world, particularly to help combat AIDS.