Cicada immigrant

John McCaslin
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Posted: May 27, 2004 12:00 AM

We got a chuckle out of White House reporters - and even President Bush - being "harassed" by cicadas while waiting to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base this week.

Despite his tight ring of security, the neatly dressed president couldn't escape all the pesky bugs.

"As he ascended the steps of the plane, a lone cicada took a run at (Bush's) head, just missing to the rear at 11:52 a.m.," wrote pool reporter Jim Lakely of The Washington Times. The scribe continued:

"Your pool scampered back into the plane, dodging the scores of cicadas clumsily twirling around us in the wind . . . . Air Force One landed in Youngstown, Ohio, at 12:44 p.m., and there were no cicadas in sight, save one that a presidential press aide smuggled as a stowaway.

"Much fun was had by all during the 10 minute wait for (Bush) to deplane as the poor Maryland immigrant bug was placed on nearly every shoulder and/or head in the pool. (White House Press Secretary) Scott McClellan felt the ugly critter's legs on his neck, too, thanks to a mischevious colleague."

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

"Were they listening to the same speech?" Editor & Publisher wonders after scanning the editorial pages of the nation's largest newspapers after President Bush's address Monday night on the future of Iraq at the U.S. Army War College.

Editors at USA Today called it "the most detailed and convincing description of the president's Iraq policy to date, as he ticked off steady, incremental gains that are overshadowed by daily news reports of soldiers dying and prisoners abused."

The New York Post opined, "Bush's plan is not just a way forward for Iraq - but for the U.S.-led global war on terror."

The Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the speech "reminded Americans that considerable progress has been made, despite tremendous difficulties, and if success is not quite near, then at least it is in sight in the coming year ...

"It is a shame that the three networks failed to carry his speech, because in a little more than half an hour, he clearly summarized both the enormous task we face and the progress we have made in shepherding that nation from dictatorship to democracy."

The Chicago Tribune agreed: "President Bush made it forcefully clear that neither he, his nation nor its most loyal allies will cut and run."

But, as E&P's Charles Geraci observes: "Despite the praise from some papers, many others viewed the speech as an utter failure."

Take the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis: "Did Bush succeed? Not by a long shot. It's arrogant of a president to believe speeches can dispel the skepticism borne of three years of lies and incompetence on the ground ...

"Indeed, the Bush team has screwed up from the get-go in Iraq, and no amount of feel-good spin will change that."

MUSLIM MATTERS

Washington will play host this weekend to the second annual convention of the Universal Muslim Association of America, the only organization of Shi'ite Muslims in the United States.

An expected 10,000 Shi'ite Muslims from across the United States and Canada will arrive in the nation's capital to discuss topics relevant to their community, including turmoil in Iraq.

The main speaker will be Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and a representative of the Islamic Dawa Party. The featured guest will be Shirin Ebadi, who, in 2003, became the first Muslim woman to receive a Nobel Prize for her efforts on behalf of democracy and human rights.

SUPREME POWER

Democrats who ridicule George W. Bush for talking too much about the importance of his faith in his role as president should recall their presidential history, says one congressman.

"In his affirmation of this conviction, the president is only the latest in a long line of his predecessors" - Republicans and Democrats alike, says Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.).

He cites FDR as saying that "no greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion - a revival that would sweep through the homes of the nation and stir the hearts of men and women of all faiths to a reassertion of their belief in God and their dedication to His will for themselves and for their world."

A short time later, Truman warned: "If we ignore the spiritual foundations of our birth as a nation, we do so at our peril. It took a faith in God to win our freedoms."

JFK was convinced: "The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forbears fought are still at issue around the globe, ... the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

"Democracies rest on faith," said LBJ, while Gerald Ford believed: "Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first - the most basic - expression of Americanism."

Finally, defending his pursuit of beatitude, Bill Clinton quoted our Founding Fathers: "All men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

LIBERAL CROWD

If you didn't already gather, a majority of newspaper and broadcast reporters covering the federal beat in Washington "are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public."

So reveals the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which finds reporters are "notably different from the general public in their ideology and attitudes toward political and social issues."

A whopping 34 percent of "national journalists" surveyed this month describe themselves as "liberals," compared with 19 percent of the general public.

"Moreover, there is a relatively small number of conservatives at national and local news organizations," the center finds. "Just 7 percent of national news people and 12 percent of local journalists describe themselves as conservatives, compared with a third of all Americans."

The findings are based on interviews with 547 national and local reporters, producers, editors and executives across the country.

But before you cancel your "liberal" newspaper subscription or switch TV channels, an accompanying Pew commentary on the survey asks the question: "But what does 'liberal' mean to journalists?

"We would be reluctant to infer too much here," says the center. "The survey ... suggest journalists have in mind something other than a classic big government liberalism and something more along the lines of libertarianism."

ZIONIST CONSPIRACY

Speaking of liberals, or at least the "liberal use of hyperbole," a South Carolina congressman has some harsh words for his state's senior senator.

"While I appreciate Sen. (Ernest) Hollings' years of service to the state and nation, I must respectfully disagree with his recent column, 'Why we are in Iraq,'" Republican Rep. Jim DeMint writes to the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., charging that the retiring senator's published opinions "crossed the line of decency."

Hollings' assertion that President Bush's real reason for invading Iraq "was primarily to make Israel, not America, more secure is outlandish," says DeMint, one of six Republicans seeking Hollings' Senate seat. "His insinuation that a Zionist conspiracy has hijacked American foreign policy is at a minimum bizarre, and at worst, chilling."

POLITICIANS ROCK

Blender is celebrating this election year by getting down with some of the "rockingest" politicians ever - a style of living that has made Sen. John Kerry, British Prime Minster Tony Blair, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton "some of the most interesting public servants of all time."

If you want to be hip, especially among the ladies, "don't join a band - join the government!" writes the publication's Clark Collis, who reveals of Kerry: "In high school, the (likely) Democratic presidential nominee played bass in a rock band called the Electras . . . (and) Kerry's office in Washington is decorated with Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen posters and a handwritten note from U2's Bono.

"Last September, he performed Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire' at a fund-raiser with Moby," Collis continues.

Says Blink 182's Tom DeLonge of the Massachusetts Democrat: "I would love to sit down and play guitar with him, but I'll wait until he's president, and I can be the ambassador to England or something."