Everything Kerry

John McCaslin
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Posted: Apr 29, 2004 12:00 AM

How about politicizing your car's dashboard with a John Kerry bobblehead?

And for you fishermen out there, what better bait to hang on your line than a shiny John Kerry fishing lure?

'Tis the season of political paraphernalia, and from now until November you can buy just about anything with a presidential mug attached to it.

There's the John Kerry dartboard (aim for the nose). And tell what time the polls close with George W. Bush and John Kerry "horse's (rear)" wall clocks.

President Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, obviously has signed his share of baseballs. Yet more rare is a baseball signed by Kerry.

"You are bidding on an official major league baseball that has been signed in person by presidential hopeful John Kerry," writes one EBay entrepreneur. "The mint baseball was signed in person by Kerry when he was in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004. He signed the ball after speaking at St. Thomas College. The ball was signed on the sweet spot and looks real nice. He signed the ball with a ballpoint pen that turned out really well. You will not find a better looking John Kerry ball anywhere."

What's interesting about campaign buttons at this stage of the presidential contest is we still don't know the name of Kerry's running mate. So as we await word, buttons are touting everybody from "Kerry-Edwards" and "Kerry-Dean" to "Kerry-Clinton" (as in Hillary Rodham) and the "Dream Team: Kerry-McCain."

Our favorite button on the auction block, though, is a rare red, white and blue "The Duke & John Kerry," which we've discovered on EBay.

Who's the Duke?

"The 'Duke,' of course, is Mike Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts and the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for President in 1988," the seller says. "This pin is from 1982, when Dukakis was running for governor with John Kerry ... sharing the ticket as the candidate for lieutenant governor."

COMEDY ROUTINE

What House Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri still can't figure out is why a Sept. 11 commission member - in this case former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) - would appear on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and satirize hearings into why the terrorist attacks happened - and just hours before testimony from President Bush.

"This is not a laughing matter," says Blunt, a Republican. "Just two days before the 9/11 commission is scheduled to question the president of the United States about intelligence failures that precipitated the loss of more than 3,000 Americans, Sen. Bob Kerrey asked a comedian for pointers."

In the opinion of Blunt, Kerrey turned the hearings "into comedy central when he chastised National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for forgetting specific details of brief conversations held three years ago - all the while, he was unable to even remember her name."

REST OF THE STORY

Let's give the late Florida Sen. Thomas Ward Osborn his due, starting with a plaque at the base of the Washington Monument - which otherwise might not be standing today.

While the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4, 1848, owing to the Civil War and a lack of funding, the monument wasn't completed until Oct. 9, 1888.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) explains that many considered completion of the monument a "waste of money." But Osborn, out of a sense of patriotism, was instrumental in passing legislation to finish the job (albeit, the design was altered to a 555-foot obelisk that Grassley says "is so recognizable today as the symbol of an exceptional man and an exceptional nation.")

Grassley has now written to the Interior Department, requesting some form of recognition for Osborn. Meanwhile, U.S. Park Service rangers stationed at the Washington Monument have been briefed on Osborn's efforts to share with visitors.

NO POKER FOR DICK

Paying a visit this week to Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., Vice President Dick Cheney suggested he's not one to place bets with reporters.

Speaking in the same gymnasium where President Harry S. Truman and Britain's Winston Churchill made rhetorical history in the spring of 1946, Cheney noted:

"I was interested to learn that Truman and Churchill traveled here from Washington on the presidential railroad car. The evening before they arrived, Churchill had five scotches before dinner and then joined Truman, members of the White House staff, and probably a few reporters for an all-night poker game.

"Well, that was a different era," Cheney said. "And I can tell you that we had a lot quieter time this morning on Air Force Two."

SOLITARY SERVICE

Constituents from one end of Rep. Sam Johnson's district to the other contacted this column Tuesday (not too surprising, considering the popular congressman captured 74 percent of the most recent vote.)

Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, we'd written, labeled six Republican lawmaker-veterans who are critical of prospective Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry "a bunch of chicken hawks who never went to war, never felt a wound, but are so quick to criticize a man who went to war and got wounded doing it."

We drew attention to the distinguished war record of one of those six congressmen - Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham - but overlooked the fact that Johnson (R-Texas) served in the Air Force for 29 years, flew 62 combat missions in Korea, and survived two tours of duty in Vietnam. He earned more medals than we can possibly list here, including two Purple Hearts. But most noteworthy, he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Last week, the 73-year-old Johnson inserted into the Congressional Record: "On this date in 1971, John Kerry stated that America violated the Geneva Conventions in Vietnam. Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Kerry made these remarks, I just emerged from nearly four years of solitary confinement in Vietnam. Trust me when I say the Vietnamese regularly violated the Geneva Conventions, not the other way around."

HOLD YOUR HORSES

Let's get this straight: Since Sept. 11, 2001, $6.3 billion in federal funding for terrorism preparedness has been granted in a timely manner to all 50 states. Yet here we are, almost three years since the terrorist attacks, and roughly $5.2 billion of the funding remains in the administrative pipeline.

What gives?

A lack of risk-based funding formulas, coupled with the absence of clear preparedness guidelines, has led to some "questionable" uses of the terrorism preparedness grants at the state and local levels, a report by the House Select Committee on Homeland Security finds.

"As of April 2004, about 85 percent of the terrorism preparedness grants distributed through the (fiscal) 2003 budget have not yet been utilized," says the committee's chairman, Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican. "They have been allocated by (the Homeland Security Department), but not spent by states and localities.

"In Tennessee, for example, only $381,000 out of a $10 million homeland-security grant awarded in (fiscal) 2003 has been spent," he says.

The committee says that at the state and local levels, no federal terrorism preparedness standards were ever set in stone "to guide the spending of funds, leading to many instances of questionable expenditures."

CONSERVATIVE CHOICE

Beating John Kerry to the punch of choosing a running mate is Constitution Party presidential candidate Michael Peroutka, who this Sunday we're told will introduce Chuck Baldwin as the other half of the ticket.

Baldwin hosts the syndicated radio program "Chuck Baldwin Live," and considers the Constitution Party the only political party at the national level that represents conservative, constitutional principles.

"With the constitutional and conservative demise of both the Democrat and Republican parties, it is painfully obvious that an alternative party must arise on the national scene to represent the core values and principles established by America's founding fathers," Baldwin says.

The party holds its convention in June in Valley Forge, Pa.