Harlem Globetrotter

John McCaslin
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Posted: Nov 23, 2004 12:00 AM

What job isn't Colin Powell rumored to be filling when he leaves the State Department? Whether he's destined for the World Bank or back to college as president of William & Mary, everybody wants the secretary of state in their court.

Don't jump too fast, Powell is told by Rep. Vito Fossella, New York Republican.

The congressman wants the secretary of state to cap his nearly four decades of public service by answering the call of duty one last time: Return home to New York and run for the Senate in 2006.

In a letter to Powell, he writes: "Now more than ever, New York needs your leadership. As a native New Yorker, a proud son of Harlem and first-generation American, you have a unique insight and great understanding of the challenges facing our state.

"On behalf of the people of New York, I respectfully request that you consider returning home and running as the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 2006."

KUWAITI 12

Washington-based public-relations firm Levick Strategic Communications is being paid $40,000 a month to "humanize" and give a "voice in the U.S. media" to a dozen Kuwaitis jailed by the U.S. military at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Kevin McCauley, editor of the public affairs Web site odwyerpr.com, says the firm is being paid the big bucks by the families of the captives.

Gene Grabowski, who leads the account, likened the Kuwaitis to Mormon missionaries, saying Muslims are obligated by their religion to do works of charity.

Grabowski said his clients heeded the call of Islamic authorities to rebuild Afghanistan after the U.S. rout of the hard-line Taliban regime, McCauley writes. They had planned to build houses in Afghanistan, but were rounded up by Pakistani military officials and handed over to the United States as terror suspects.

Grabowski said U.S. forces and CIA agents paid bounties ranging from $10 to $200 for the men, ages 20 to 45. He says the captives were handed over with their "hands tied behind their backs."

The Levick executive stressed that the families aren't demanding that their "sons, brothers and husbands" be released. "They just want the detainees to be tried," Grabowski told McCauley.

MIND CONTROL

If you didn't already suspect, a new Media Research Center study confirms that George W. Bush received twice as much negative press coverage as Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Anybody on Capitol Hill surprised?

"Most Americans now realize that big media - network TV news programs and the largest newspapers and newsmagazines - tried to determine the outcome of the presidential election," said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican.

"Think what President Bush's margin of victory would have been without the media bias," says the congressman, calling it "a real threat to democracy."

HIGHER AUTHORITIES

Ohio Rep. Sherrod Brown is one Democrat who doesn't buy all the "values" rhetoric heard from the opposite side of the aisle.

"On the floor of the House of Representatives, in the light of day, we hear much talk from our Republican friends about moral values," Brown says. "But in the committee rooms and in the cloakrooms and in the back of the chamber, choices are so often made and deals are cut that run counter to the teachings of Christ and Muhammad and the Jewish prophets and fly in the face of the values upon which our nation was founded."

LAST-MINUTE DETAILS

The appropriations process in Congress is "broken," and the weekend furor over the privacy of income-tax returns proves it. So says the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

The provision, a single line on a bill of more than 1,600 pages, gave the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees and their staff assistants the power to see any American's tax returns.

But what should people expect, asks Council President Thomas A. Schatz, when Congress does business as it does?

"This bill confirms that the appropriations process is broken," Schatz said. "The complex spending package was made available to members of Congress only hours before the vote. The invasive (Internal Revenue Service) measure is typical of last-minute additions to spending bills."

Passage of the $388 billion package, which contains nine of 13 appropriations bills for fiscal 2005, was delayed until Congress can remove the provision.

ANOTHER HAT

Pete du Pont, former Delaware governor and 1988 Republican presidential candidate, has been elected chairman of the board of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, which he figures will play a pivotal role as the Bush administration takes on health care, tax policy and the reform of Social Security.

When he is not leading the Wilmington law firm Richards, Layton & Finger, du Pont is penning his regular column, "Outside the Box," for The Wall Street Journal.

CHANGING HUMANS

Our recent item about the nine inscriptions chiseled in the walls of the U.S. Capitol - in particular, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind" - elicited this response from The Beltway Bea reader Jeff Ford:

"Given our (politically correct) culture (today), the last part would have to read 'but for all humankind.'"

WASHINGTON'S ROOTS

We thought we knew everything there was to know about our federal city until reading "The Washington Century: Three Families and the Shaping of the Nation's Capital" by National Journal contributing editor Burt Solomon.

Some intriguing nuggets:

- Frank Lloyd Wright criticized government buildings in 1938 - when the Federal Triangle monstrosities were going up - as "not built to serve the people, but to satisfy a kind of grandomania."

- "Much of Washington's early architecture was very cool indeed, though some of it was controversial," the author explains to The Beltway Beat. Take the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House, with its 900 columns and flamboyant chimneys, revered by many but reviled by more. Its architect committed suicide two years after the building was finished.

- The Beltway's first traffic snarl occurred the very same day the circumferential ring around Washington opened to motorists. "After Governor Millard Tawes of Maryland wielded the golden scissors, everyone tried to leave at once, creating the Beltway's first traffic jam," Solomon says.

- Julius Hobson Jr., the top lobbyist for the American Medical Association, has learned from Sun Tzu's ancient text, "The Art of War," as well as a certain professional football coach in plotting his lobbying strategy, a subject he teaches at George Washington University. "He studied the strategy of Joe Gibbs, the Redskins coach who had won three Super Bowls, buttressed by an ability to modify his game plan at half-time," says the author, who adds of this disappointing football season: "Not sure that doctors would want Gibbs right now as their guru."

- Today's tight security around the U.S. Capitol feels much like Washington experienced on the night of Dec. 7, 1941. "Overnight, Washington turned into a wartime capital. Helmeted guards patrolled the Potomac bridges. Soldiers with submachine guns secured the White House lawn," Solomon writes of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. "The familiar air of leisure was gone, never to return."

NEW LEADERS

The 109th freshman class of congressmen has elected its leadership, choosing as president Rep. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; as vice president, Delegate Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico (a speaker at the Republican National Convention this year); for its steering committee, Rep. Cathy McMorris of Washington; for its representative to leadership, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas; and for its policy committee, Rep. Thelma Drake of Virginia. All Republicans of course.

'FREEPER' SUED

President Bush's 60-million-vote re-election triumph might have helped The Beltway Beat readers forget those 36 days in late 2000, when it seemed that Al Gore's squads of lawyers might deprive Bush of his narrow victory in Florida. Providing moral support for Bush during the Florida recount nightmare were members of FreeRepublic.com.

The "Freepers," as they call themselves, staged pro-Bush demonstrations across the country, from Palm Beach County to Washington, D.C., - where their chants of "Get out of Cheney's house" reportedly were loud enough to rattle Gore's nerves inside the vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory.

Now, four years later, a Freeper says he is being bankrupted by a Democrat's lawsuit over a Dec. 2, 2000, protest in Connecticut.

"I am broke and thousands of dollars in debt," writes Jim Bancroft, who led a pro-Bush rally in front of the New Haven, Conn., home of Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman.

At the 2000 rally, Bancroft explains, he intervened when the leader of a Democratic counterprotest rushed toward former state Sen. Tom Scott, who was speaking from the back of Bancroft's truck.

"I thought he was going to attack someone on the truck: either me or Tom," says Bancroft. He stopped the Democratic protester, who was then hustled away by police.

"Tom and I decided not to press charges for assault or trespass on my truck, and let him go. Nine months later, the man filed suit against me for assault. I am not joking - nine months later."

The result: Thousands of dollars in legal bills for Mr. Bancroft, who has been working temporary jobs since he was laid off during the telecommunications industry meltdown of 2001.

"Because of this false charge against me," he says, "I am now over $8,000 in debt to my lawyer, and we cannot continue until I pay my bill."

COMIC CONCERN

We're not sure who should be more concerned - the major TV networks or the nation as a whole. But Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," is more trusted by young adults than two of the big three network news anchors.

Declare Yourself, the leading nonpartisan youth voter advocacy group founded by television producer Norman Lear, asked 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds last week which network news anchor they trusted the most to give them information about politics and politicians.

The top choice at 26 percent was "none of them" (there is hope).

Tom Brokaw (soon to retire) of NBC finished first with 17 percent, followed by non-network anchor Stewart with 16 percent, ABC's Peter Jennings at 15 percent, and Dan Rather of CBS at 10 percent.

Among first-time voters, Stewart finished ahead of all three major-network anchors.

"America's youth really came out to vote this time, but apparently, they assign more credibility to a fake anchor on a fake news show than the real thing," Washington pollster Frank Luntz tells The Beltway Beat.

The survey also found that the vast majority of voters ages 18 to 29 said they "definitely" will continue their political activities, both at the ballot box and in the community.

EDWARDS' LEGACY

The Senate paid tribute last week to retiring members, and at the top of the list was Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who was runner-up both in the Democratic presidential primary and as running mate of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

The Senate salute was like listening to the 2004 presidential campaign all over again: "Senator Edwards, the son of a mill worker, was the first in his family to go to college," began Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat.

Edwards doesn't plan to stray too far from the political spotlight, although his primary focus now is on his wife, Elizabeth, who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.

DENNIS REMAINS

One of the longest-surviving 2004 Democratic presidential contenders, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, has no plans to go anywhere.

And as U.S. forces this week continued to secure Fallujah, Kucinich was busy calling for an Iraq exit strategy.

"Bombing the villages to save the villages is not an exit strategy," he says. "Expanding house-to-house fighting across Iraq is not an exit strategy."

The congressman says the only way for U.S. troops to come home is for the United States to seek a "new relationship" with the United Nations.

COUNTING COUNTIES

Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican whose first trip to Washington on July 4, 1963, was aboard a bus to attend the National Draft (Barry) Goldwater Rally, wasn't surprised that President Bush won re-election.

"His message resonated across every demographic group in America - Hispanics, African-Americans, Jewish Americans, Asian-Americans and women," the congressman said.

And then there's this telling statistic: Of the 3,153 counties in this country, Bush carried 2,542, while his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, carried only 611.

A DOLLAR SAVED

Look next year for Benjamin Franklin - the only Founding Father to sign all of this nation's organizational documents, who played a major role in the design of the Great Seal of the United States, who designed the first American coin and who once said, "A penny saved is a penny earned" - to appear on $1 U.S. silver coins.

There will be two coins, actually - one showing Franklin's younger image, the other his later profile.