Political Scrapbook

Posted: Jul 09, 2001 12:00 AM
BATTLE STATIONS After their unprecedented - and effortless - coup that handed them control of the Senate, Democrats are now gearing up to defend their strategic half of Capitol Hill. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, we've learned, has raised more than $20 million in the first half of 2001. Of that, nearly $7 million was raised in June, right after former Republican Sen. James M. Jeffords, in the words of dethroned Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, "subverted the will of the American people" by becoming an independent aligned with the Democrats. The DSCC fund raising is $8 million ahead of the Democrats' own record-breaking pace in the 2000 cycle, a presidential election year, when money traditionally flows into campaign coffers. "We have some tremendous opportunities in Senate races across the nation and this solid financial support will allow us to make sure that our candidates have the resources needed to win in 2002 ... retaining the Democratic majority and control of the legislative agenda in the U.S. Senate," Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat and DSCC chairman, tells us. DOODLING IN INK Don't believe everything you read - or don't read. "It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality" (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95), is a new book by David Murray, director of the Statistical Assessment Service in Washington, D.C., and adjunct professor at Georgetown University; Joel Schwartz, senior adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute; and S. Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. We'll allow the book's very first paragraph to speak for the remainder of the pages: "When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that AIDS deaths increased in 1994, that story was covered by the New York Times - as it should have been. But two months later, the CDC announced that the number of AIDS diagnoses fell in 1995. An interesting and important piece of news, you might think, yet the Times effectively ignored it." Apart from AIDS, there are plenty more examples of the Fourth Estate's picture of reality, from airplane crashes and global warming to - always our favorites - presidential election polls and voting results. PLUNGER We're not sure if they're fighting words or not, but when discussing budget-surplus projections, Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad has taken to calling President George W. Bush - who admittedly never struck it big in the oil business - "what they call in the oil fields of North Dakota a 'plunger.' A plunger is somebody that continues to drill dry holes even when all his money is gone. They just keep doing it for the love of the chase, I guess." AMERICAN DECLARATION Liberal TV producer Norman Lear is certainly all over the map these days. During the recent presidential campaign, he was contributing to Republican candidate John McCain's bid for the White House. When April of this year rolled around, he was huddling with Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt about purchasing a cable-TV network that would cater to the left. Earlier this week, he was in Washington touting patriotism. He stood at the Jefferson Memorial to reveal details of a four-year Declaration of Independence road trip, taking one of the original copies of the historic document - purchased by Mr. Lear for $8.14 million - around the country for everybody to read. The first stop: The Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. Mr. Lear "heard that this document was going on auction, and later found out it was on display at Sotheby's in Los Angeles," the tour's Cherie Simon told us. "When he walked over and saw it, his eyes welled up." AMERICAN FEMINISM The Catholic Church, the nation's most highly populated religious denomination, is giving an unmistakable thumbs down to Kim Gandy, the newly crowned president of the National Organization for Women. Catholic League President William Donohue not only regards Gandy as a "foe" of Catholicism, but he explains why in no uncertain terms. Starting in 1987, she supported NOW's protest of Pope John Paul II's visit to the United States, and in 1992, she attacked New York Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor for recommending that the Knights of Columbus build a "tomb of the unborn child" in Catholic cemeteries across the nation, which she called "outrageous." In 1993 and 1994, Donohue says, Gandy supported efforts that would coerce the Catholic Church into funding abortions. And he says that in 1993, she advocated using the "draconian (racketeering-influenced corrupt organizations) law to gag pro-lifers." Donohue also takes issue with NOW's claims to represent 145 million women in the United States when it has 500,000 members, only 1,000 of whom showed up to vote last weekend for a new president. "Some mandate," he says. Finally, regarding women, Mr. Donohue notes, "Gandy was livid at the Dulles (Va.) chapter of NOW for supporting Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Clinton. "Her curious brand of feminism," he adds, "also allows her to oppose the ban on prostitution: 'How come I can rent my uterus,' she said in 1987, 'but not my vagina? They're only an inch apart.'" AMERICAN GRUB Members of Congress are getting to show off their favorite recipes without even stepping behind the stove. Every month starting this month, Christopher Marks Restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue, located between the White House and Capitol Hill, will feature a Congress member's favorite recipe on its menu. The featured recipe, to benefit the Congressional Hunger Center, will be re-created by executive chef Robert Polk, who will invite the member of Congress to sample and approve the meal. This month, for instance, Rep. Tony P. Hall's grilled porterhouse and Caesar salad is prominently offered. The Ohio Democrat, we should point out, not only co-chairs the hunger center, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to address issues of hunger, human rights and peace. Next month's special: Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson's crab cakes.