Beltway Beat: Green eggs and pork

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jun 05, 2002 12:00 AM
Springfield, Mass., might be celebrating the grand opening of the Dr. Seuss National Memorial, but Citizens Against Government Waste is denouncing the city and the Massachusetts delegation on Capitol Hill for funding the project through an "unauthorized" earmark of federal dollars. "We hate to rain on Springfield's parade, but Massachusetts voters should be disappointed at the illegitimate manner in which this project obtained federal dollars," says CAGW President Tom Schatz. "Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Massachusetts congressional delegation earmarked $950,000 of federal money for this project through the Economic Development Initiative program, without authorization or a competitive-bidding process." The national memorial for Dr. Seuss, which opened Friday (May 31), features a sculpture garden of bronze statues depicting not only Dr. Seuss, but several fictional characters from his stories, including Horton the elephant, Yertle the turtle and Thidwick the moose. "Far be it from me to question the inspirational value of Thidwick the moose, but if Springfield, Massachusetts, wants to honor the city's 'favorite son,' perhaps next time the people of Massachusetts could pay for it themselves - either voluntarily or through local taxes," Schatz says. "What are the chances people in South Dakota or Washington state will ever see this monument? The federal government has higher priorities than green eggs and ham." CREDIT THE NATION There was mixed reaction to news in this column that Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., will introduce a bill to amend the tax code and provide a refundable credit of $1,000 to elementary and secondary-school teachers, and provide and expand deductions for unreimbursed expenses for continuing education and classroom materials for teachers. "I think Congressman Barr's idea to give a tax credit to teachers is great," writes Jack Moran of Virginia. "The teachers could certainly use the increase. To offset the loss of income-tax revenue, we should simply debit the budget of the Department of Education. That budget could, at last, provide some true improvement in education." A California reader named Nanit, meanwhile, writes: "I have teachers throughout my family, and they have never complained about the money. They complain about the administration and the kids and the lack of discipline and backup by the parents." Wayne Smith, of Huntsville, Ala., warns: "If the tax-credit proposal for teachers is passed, this will open a horrific wave of every special-interest group demanding tax credits, also. And Congress will bend to nearly every one of them." Finally, Ron Green says: "I don't get paid what I'm worth also. Where's my tax credit?" IT WORKS Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., e-mailed us a press release last week promoting his new bill to improve high-speed Internet service. It appears his high-speed idea is working already - the same press release was spammed to us more than 100 times. CONSTITUTION AIRDROP Teri DiLibero is putting politics aside at a time when her country needs her most. "This is an American project, not a political one. We feel it is important," says the Pennsylvania woman who helped dream up the popular "Sore/Loserman" slogan during the last presidential election, and before that made news with her "End Intern Abuse" motto. Now DiLibero and her husband have started a nonpolitical project: a huge hot-air balloon in the shape of a U.S. flag. "It is awesome, and absolutely beautiful," Mrs. DiLibero (see for yourself at www.usflagballoon.com) tells this columns. "We are already booked for eight events and we hope to hand out pocket Constitutions to everyone that we can." The colorful, flag-shaped balloon stands 53 feet tall, 78 feet wide, 29 feet front to back, and weighs 530 pounds. And yes, it really flies. LAME DUCK Last time the official congressional Web page for Rep. Gary A. Condit, D-Calif., was updated: Dec. 3, 2001. LIFE GOES ON War isn't stopping Uncle Sam from celebrating Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, recognized every June. Bureaucrats not busy tracking down terrorists who threaten to annihilate Americans with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are encouraged by a U.S. government memo "to explore opportunities to participate in these events." LIBERAL MINDS Leon Panetta, President Clinton's White House chief of staff, heads the California-based Panetta Institute for Public Policy - at least when not tending to his family's walnut orchard. ("When I was first elected to Congress, my father said I was perfectly suited for Washington because I've always worked around nuts," he once told us.) Weighing the results of the institute's annual poll of U.S. college students, conducted in recent weeks by Hart Research, Panetta reports that a wide margin of students believe the post-Sept. 11 jump in American patriotism and national unity is temporary and not durable. Even more eye-opening: While 86 percent of Americans support the nation's war on terrorism, just 57 percent of college students back the government's anti-terror efforts. What are their problems? "Students seem more inclined to question the motives, methods and effectiveness of our fight to stop terror," Panetta opines. "Life appears to be getting back to normal for America's college students." In fact, an overwhelming three in four students, or 74 percent, say poorly performing schools are a bigger threat to the future of the United States than terrorism. Wait until the next shoe drops. PASS THE MUSTARD On the subject of college students, we had to laugh at National Review's review of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual dinner, during which Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. cited an example of philosophical conversations with his college-age daughter: "If James Carville and Geraldo Rivera were both drowning, and you could save only one, would you read the paper or eat lunch?" BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Many Americans don't realize it, but the American some consider a hero, others a villain, was once the U.S. government's counter-terrorism coordinator. And soon he is going on tour. In the coming months, Oliver North, a member of the White House National Security Council under President Reagan, will start touring the nation in a specially designed bus, part of a marketing effort to promote the first in his upcoming series of books, "Mission Compromised" (Broadman & Holman), due out in September. North says his three-part novel draws heavily on his contacts with intelligence officers, clandestine operatives, and military and allied government officials - relationships forged from his White House days. North says Americans have learned a great deal about him and his activities from the Iran-Contra hearings, but he insists there's plenty more to his story. "The rest," says the syndicated columnist, radio and television host, "can only be told in a novel."