Much is being made of the rise in hate crimes against Middle Easterners living in the United States. And no wonder.
According to the FBI, hate crimes in the United States against Muslims and Arabs increased in 2001 by a whopping 1,700 percent.
Bear in mind that the FBI in 2000 recorded only 28 hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs. In 2001, the number jumped to 481 - out of a U.S. population approaching 300 million.
SUNSHINE OR HILLARY?
Democratic Party convention-goers will gather in Boston to choose their candidate for president in 2004, while it's up in the air whether New York City or Tampa will play host to Republicans when they nominate President Bush to run for four more years.
That said, this column has obtained a letter that Florida Reps. Mark Foley and Adam H. Putnam will send later this week to former Gov. Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee. The letter is being signed by the Florida Republican Delegation, which, with 18 members, is second only to California.
"This is like comparing apples to oranges," Foley tells this column of the choice between New York and Tampa. "Instead of the president having to crawl into Hillary Clinton's lair, he can bask in the paradise his brother built." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a New York Democrat, and President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, is governor of Florida.
As for their letter, the Florida Republicans unanimously endorse Tampa/St. Petersburg as the site of the 2004 Republican National Convention.
After all, write the lawmakers, it's the "fulcrum of the premier battleground state of the 2000 presidential election. Florida's 27 electoral votes will be the key to a successful re-election bid by President Bush."
One can argue that Florida supported Bush once again in this month's midterm elections, giving brother Jeb a surprising 56 percent of the vote. A low turnout in the traditional Democratic counties of South Florida, combined with unprecedented Latino support for the Republican Party, resulted in the governor's win in Miami-Dade County.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
It's not difficult to tell who in the Democratic Party is running for president in 2004.
Last Friday, on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency easing the nation's clean-air rules, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards issued a statement warning of "more smog, more soot, and more premature deaths."
His statement was released to reporters at 3:19 p.m.
At 3:21 p.m., Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry issued a statement warning that the EPA was similarly putting "polluters ahead of public health."
Except Kerry was more straightforward: "To safeguard the environment, we don't just need a new EPA administrator, we need a new president."
CAFFEINE AND TOAST
Yes, the House Armed Services Committee over the past two years has overseen the largest increase in national defense spending since the early 1980s. In exact numbers, the defense budget is growing by more than $60 billion annually.
But congressmen also realize that the war on terrorism cannot be effectively fought without two vital staples.
"With all this talk of creating the new Department of Homeland Security and combating terrorism, I wanted to make sure you didn't miss two critically important resolutions that passed the House last week," Paul S. Teller, legislative director of the House Republican Study Committee, writes to this column.
He attached H.R. 466: "Recognizing the significance of bread in American history, culture, and daily diet," as well as H.R. 604: "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should adopt a global strategy to respond to the current coffee crisis."
Data not yet released by Uncle Sam - and we can see why - shows that a record number of legal and illegal immigrants have continued to arrive in the United States through the first part of this year.
An analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the latest data from the Census Bureau indicates that more than 33 million legal and illegal immigrants live in the United States - an increase of 2 million, or a population four times the size of Washington, D.C. - since the last official count, in 2000.
And where are all these immigrants moving?
New York City tops the list, according to figures we obtained from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, with more than 81,000 immigrants moving to the city in 1998 alone.
The remaining Top 10 "favorite destinations" for immigrants in 1998: Los Angeles; Chicago; Miami; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Orange County, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; Houston; and Boston.
MARRIED TO MARY
Let's get this straight: Democratic Party guru James Carville is determined to put a Democrat in the White House in 2004, even if it means his wife, senior presidential aide Mary Matalin, will get thrown out with the rest of her Republican comrades.
"I'm outraged," says Carville, the former strategist for Bill Clinton. He's angry, he says, because President Bush plans to use recent Republican gains in the ballot booths as an excuse to push through an "ultraconservative right-wing agenda far out of the mainstream."
"That's just the tip of the iceberg for the Republicans," warns Carville, as if he's been eavesdropping on his wife, who is both assistant to the president and counselor to the vice president.
It "makes me mad and it should make you mad, too," he says.
KEEPS ON WINNING
Latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll:
-- If the 2004 presidential election were held today: George W. Bush, 54 percent; Al Gore 28, percent.
-- If the 2004 presidential election were held today: George W. Bush, 59 percent; Bill Clinton, 24 percent.
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, who complained recently that the Bush administration is not doing enough to prevent terrorism, will be happy to read that starting on Monday (Dec. 2), male visitors to this country from an additional 13 nations will be fingerprinted and questioned at Immigration and Naturalization Service offices.
New homeland security registration rules apply to men 16 and older from a newly expanded list of nations: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
All visitors from these countries are ordered to appear no later than Jan. 10 to be fingerprinted, photographed and questioned "under oath" by an immigration officer. The visitors also must provide legal travel documents, proof of where they reside, and where they are studying and/or working.
Persons who fail to comply likely will be shown the door.
MORE COLORFUL EPA
The majority of minorities who continue to believe the GOP doesn't best represent their interests should take a look at what former Republican Gov. Christie Whitman has accomplished in less than two years at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a memo to her staff this week, Whitman notes:
-- Twenty-two percent of participants recently selected for the Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Program are "people of color, and almost half are women. Today, the number of people of color in the SES is at an all-time high."
-- In the past 18 months, the number of people of color in federal grade 14/15 positions increased by almost 100. Of the new EPA hires since December 2000, approximately 33 percent are people of color.
-- In January 2001, the backlog of Title VII complaints - complaints by agency employees or applicants for employment that claim discrimination - stood at 139. The backlog has since been eliminated.
-- Approximately 99 percent of EPA's 1,600 managers and supervisors recently have completed a national civil rights training program provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Civil Rights.
A most intriguing meeting at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center last week was attended by George W. Bush appointees and White House Director of Personnel Clay Johnson, who attended Andover and Yale with Bush and was one of his DKE fraternity brothers.
According to our insider, a woman from one federal agency stood up and told Johnson that she "works with Clinton [appointed] holdovers who continue to obstruct and work against the administration's policy."
Her question went something like: "What are you doing to remove the Clinton holdovers who are still there?"
Mr. Johnson reportedly replied it was his "understanding" that all of former President Clinton's political appointees were gone, although he conceded there might be a few leftovers he didn't know about. Identies may be sent to Mr. Johnson in care of the White House.