"I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there's a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. He could use a little help." -- Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Harvard Medical School-educated psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," diagnosing former Vice President Al Gore's claim that several major news organizations are organs of the Republican Party.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Hottest political stocking-stuffer this holiday season? The presidential action figure "George W. Bush," who says 17 different phrases in the president's own voice - some political, some patriotic, others reflecting his comedic use (or misuse) of the English language.
For instance, push the button on the Bush doll's back and hear him say that he is "putting food on your family."
Putting food where?
"Putting food on your family," the doll says.
The creator of this original collectible is TalkingPresidents.com. George W. Bush is the first such creature, with Bill Clinton, George Bush, Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy coming soon.
The presidential dolls "can be enjoyed by any political aficionado and are the perfect educational addition to any child's collection of dolls," say the makers. "No action figure says this much."
"I come from Texas," says Bush, standing 12.5 inches tall.
Yes you do, and we're happy to have you here.
"Freedom will be defended," the Bush doll says.
Osama has gotten that message, sir.
"Terrorism will not stand," it adds.
No, Mr. Bush, it won't. What are your other goals as president?
"Putting food on your family."
As President Bush debates how to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, White House insiders suggest so-called moderates within the administration are orchestrating a gradual purge of hard-line conservatives.
"Post-election plans," say White House sources, bearing the fingerprints of closet presidential adviser Karen Hughes, who abruptly departed the White House this year but keeps in close contact with the president.
Targets are said to include key conservatives, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other like-minded defense hard-liners, as well as close aides to Vice President Richard B. Cheney, who along with Rumsfeld continues to anchor the administration's right flank.
One person who needn't worry about his White House standing: Oval Office doorman Karl Rove, still riding high from the November election sweep by Republicans - conservatives among them.
Former congressman and Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta gives low marks to the just-recessed 107th Congress.
"The second session of the 107th Congress witnessed the virtual collapse of the budget process. The House passed a budget, but the Senate never did pass a budget - so there was no Congressional Budget Resolution," says the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, co-chaired by Panetta.
An "End of Session" memo by the committee also warns that the short-term deficit likely will grow, especially if Congress and the Bush administration enact a new economic-stimulus package:
"We are not fans of fiscal stimulus. Such bills almost always increase spending and/or reduce revenues at the wrong point in the economic cycle. Unless things get much worse, Congress and the administration would do well to focus on the medium- and longer-term challenges facing the country."
Washington isn't the only capital in the world shivering in frigid temperatures weeks before winter's official arrival.
During the past week, at least 26 persons have frozen to death in Russia's capital of Moscow, while another 157 Muscovites were hospitalized for hypothermia. And in Norway, this columnist's maternal clan has just shivered through their coldest November in 22 years, the thermometer sinking one morning to 36 degrees below zero.
"Remember, cold temperatures are merely anecdotal, just what the models would predict - if they worked - and probably due to global warming anyway," remarks Myron Ebell, director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at Washington's Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The immigration-watchdog group Project USA equates today's U.S. border with Mexico to what it was 100 years ago - a place of violence, chaos and political intrigue.
A century ago, the group observes, a bloody revolution was raging south of the border. As Mexican agitators and partisans operated out of the United States, massive illegal immigration from Mexico was under way.
"Things boiled over in January 1916 when Pancho Villa, a brutal, undisciplined, semi-literate horse thief, and his 'Villistas' pulled 16 American engineers off a train in Mexico and shot them each in the head," the group recalls. "In return, outraged Americans formed citizen vigilante groups, and racial violence between Anglos and Latinos intensified."
Two months later, Villistas raided Columbus, N.M., massacred 18 Americans, then burned most of the town. It proved to be a turning point and prompted an "inattentive Washington" to finally pay attention to the border.
"Today the conditions on the U.S.-Mexico border are strikingly similar to what they were in the 1910s," says Project USA. "There is again massive illegal immigration from Mexico, violence and chaos are the order of the day, political agitators in the United States conspire with factions in Mexico, and there is a growing militant Mexican separatist movement."
In sounding warnings to the Bush administration, the group applauds the efforts of Chris Simcox, a newspaperman in Tombstone, Ariz., described as "the Rosa Parks of the immigration moderation movement."
Simcox has called for the formation of a nonviolent, strictly law enforcement "citizen militia" to guard against the region's rampant illegal immigration.
Former Clinton drug czar and retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey is back in the national defense spotlight, heading Fleishman-Hillard's new homeland security practice.
Gen. McCaffrey will provide strategic counsel on national security and terrorism issues to the nation's largest public affairs consultancy, which represents eight executive branch departments and federal agencies.
"The United States faces many challenges in the wake of September 11, from transportation and border security to bioterrorism defense," says McCaffrey, who plans to position himself as a communications link between the new Department of Homeland Security and the private sector and government agencies.
Three well-known colleagues of McCaffrey who sit on Fleishman-Hillard's international advisory board also will provide counsel on homeland security: former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan.
Prior to his five years in the Clinton White House, Gen. McCaffrey was commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command. During the Gulf war, he commanded the 24th Infantry Division during the "left hook" attack into Iraq.
At retirement from active duty, he was the youngest and most highly decorated four-star general in the U.S. Army.