McCaslin's Beltway Beat: The three bears

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jan 23, 2002 12:00 AM
President Bush wants to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling for oil. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle doesn't (it was revealed a majority of the South Dakotan's own Energy and Natural Resources Committee favors drilling for limited amounts of oil in a tiny area of the Alaska refuge, but that's another story). One of his fellow Democrats, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, told senators the story of the three bears before Congress adjourned for its holiday break. He began by saying that wildlife in the refuge won't "interact happily" with oil pipelines, and then the one-time vice-presidential aspirant pointed to a picture of three foraging bears - a story, he warned, that did not have a fairy-tale ending. "I was advised that the bears in the pictures were not stuffed animals," Lieberman saw fit to assure any nonbelievers. PRETZEL LOGIC Capitol Hill staffers had to laugh when they logged on to their computers recently and were greeted with their reference desk computer link of the day: "1st-Aid for Choking." "This site," the message read, "offers refresher training on choking for people with first-aid training. Choking can result in unconsciousness and cardiopulmonary arrest. It is often caused by food or other foreign body lodged in the throat (airway). Indeed, choking caused by foreign-body airway obstruction accounts for about 3,000 deaths each year. The recognition and proper management of choking is of key importance to safety in homes, restaurants and other public places." Reacts one congressional staffer: "I don't know if they could have been a little more obvious and had something about pretzels in there." PARTISAN PROFILING It's not racial profiling in the nation's airports that Democrats need to be concerned about, notes Dave Mohel of the Hathaway Group, but rather the recent rash of "Democratic" profiling incidents. Cases in point: Rep. John D. Dingell, D.-Mich., is stopped recently by airport security in Washington and told to drop his trousers after his surgically implanted steel hip sets off metal detectors. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, D.-R.I., is recently caught on tape shoving a female security guard at Los Angeles International Airport when advised that his carry-on luggage is too large. Rep. Gary A. Condit, D-Calif., purportedly asks flight attendant Anne Marie Smith to sign a false affidavit, resulting in Miss Smith turning to the FBI for help and protection. Former D.C. Mayor Marion S. Barry, a Democrat, is recently sentenced to one year of probation after he reputedly exposes himself to a female janitor at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. President Bush, despite these and other real security concerns at our nation's airports, has reiterated that Americans should not surrender their freedom to travel. NEW AMERICA We see that the Immigration and Naturalization Service's former acting executive associate commissioner, Barbara L. Strack, is becoming director of a National Immigration Forum project: the Center for the New American Community. The new center will focus on current issues, policies and practices related to the integration of immigrants into American communities. Its declared purpose is to "better enable newcomers to become full and equal participants in America, and to better enable receiving communities to successfully incorporate immigrants and refugees." LAFFER COURSE The man who brought us the "Laffer curve" - supply-side economist Arthur B. Laffer - is entering the 21st-century classroom. "My students can take my course without disrupting their lives, and I can teach on-line while fulfilling my responsibilities to my clients and my family," explains the well-known economist and founder of the Congressional Advisory Board, who will teach Econ103, "Supply Side Economics," at Yorktown University.com. The course description says it is geared to adults, both Democrats and Republicans, who want to understand the economic forces that govern their lives. During the Nixon administration, Laffer was the first chief economist to the president, and he later became "supply-side guru" to President Reagan. He had the nerve to argue that tax rates of 0 percent and 100 percent yielded about the same revenue: zilch. His economic principles were so hotly debated that the future wife of NBC "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert once revealed that Russert - on their first date, no less - actually diagrammed the Laffer curve, hoping to demonstrate that Reagan's economic numbers didn't add up. Laffer's economic acumen and influence in triggering a worldwide tax-cutting movement in the 1980s earned him the title of "Father of Supply-Side Economics." One of his earliest successes in shaping public policy was his involvement in Proposition 13, the groundbreaking California initiative that drastically cut property taxes in the state in 1978. Today, he is counted among a select group of advisers who help shape legislative policies for the 107th Congress. He now says he wants to teach a new generation of students sharing a concern about high taxes and anti-growth government policies. The cyber-course costs $1,500.