Under God

John McCaslin
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Posted: Mar 14, 2003 12:00 AM

With a single constitutional amendment to be filed next week, an Oklahoma congressman will seek to protect the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments and school prayer.

On the heels of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals once again ruling the Pledge unconstitutional, and with no letup of attacks on public displays of the Ten Commandments or students who wish to pray, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) says it's time to "stop the courts from supporting intolerant attacks on expressions of faith."

"Such an amendment would avoid the establishment of an official religion, while protecting our religious expressions and freedom," he says. "This Pledge and prayer amendment protects what America cherishes."

The proposed amendment to the Constitution would "secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: The people retain the right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage and traditions on public property, including schools."

BUNCH OF TURKEYS

Kathleen Caron, of Chantilly, Va., is rushing to defend Frying Pan Park, which pledged this week to provide better shelter for those fortunate Thanksgiving turkeys pardoned each year by the president of the United States.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced Tuesday that three months after being pardoned by President Bush, Zach the turkey kicked the bucket at the Northern Virginia park.

But not for lack of care, says Caron, who like her daughter, Marie, is a volunteer animal caretaker at the park.

"The people from PETA are just making a fuss about the turkeys to try to embarrass President Bush, and in the process they are insulting and defaming a decent, hard-working man, Todd Brown, who cares for the animals as if they were his own children," she says.

"I can tell you, those critters are pampered and loved. The turkeys have a nice, comfy little barn and a pen to run around in. They are well-fed and watered. Why on earth they need a heated barn (they have feathers, duh), chickens to play with (those huge turkeys would stomp chickens to death), a tree to sit under (what, do they need to meditate?) or a varied diet (my dog eats the same thing every day and doesn't seem to mind at all) is beyond me.

"And by the way, if the PETA people think those turkeys are smarter than cats, the cats they know must be really stupid."

FAMILY FEUD

President Bush has "quietly started his re-election campaign," which has Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe asking Democrats to open their wallets.

Bush, warns the DNC head in a memo, has already raised "tens of millions of dollars" for the Republican Party in advance of the 2004 elections.

Since then, says the Democrat, the president has "hired ultraconservative right-wing" campaign operative Ralph Reed to focus full energies on his re-election campaign.

By McAuliffe's own doing, DNC coffers were virtually depleted during the 2002 election cycle after he authorized that a record amount of money be spent to defeat the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

As the Bradenton Herald reported days later: "While the national party poured millions into a fruitless effort in Florida, other Democrats nationally could have used more last-minute money to avoid narrow losses that shifted control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans."

McAuliffe's tremendous infusion of DNC cash was funneled into the failed gubernatorial campaign of Bill McBride, who ultimately lost to Bush.

Lest Democrats forget, McBride's finance chairman was Richard Swann, Mr. McAuliffe's father-in-law.

DEMOCRATIC UNION

Despite President Bush's charitable efforts, Democrats should once again be able to bank on union support in 2004.

Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, says his sources reveal that former James P. Hoffa campaign chief and Teamsters union national field director Todd Thompson will be tasked with "tripling" contributions to the Teamsters' political action committee to defeat "all GOP candidates."

The development, he says, appears to represent a "shift in strategy" by union political operatives, who had been willing in the past to support moderate Republicans.

"Despite all of James Hoffa's rhetoric about reaching out to Republicans, the reality is that Teamsters officials are nothing more than Democrat Party shills," Gleason says.

It also points up a "failed strategy" pursued by the Bush White House to make core policy concessions in exchange for union political support, he says.

Despite the concessions, Gleason says, union officials have made ongoing attacks on President Bush and other Republicans.

In the 2002 election cycle, the Teamster's PAC, known as DRIVE, spent $2.3 million on behalf of federal candidates, 86 percent of which went to Democratic candidates, according to the NRWF.

Regardless, 40 percent of union households vote for other candidates, including Republicans.

COMMON TONGUE

When it comes to speaking English, Steve King made his mark in Iowa.

Now, the Republican freshman is wasting little time making his mark in the 108th Congress.

Sworn into office only weeks ago, King has already authored two bills, the latest to declare English the official language of the United States.

"The English Language Unity Act ... does not affect the teaching and study of other languages," King stresses. "It does not deter the use of other languages in the home, community, church, or elsewhere."

Rather, the congressman says the need for an official English language appears in newspapers every day. Besides combating terrorism, he cites injuries in the workplace, mistranslations at hospitals, people who are unable to support themselves and their families - all because they could not speak English.

Twenty-seven states, not waiting for Uncle Sam to act, have already passed similar English-language statutes.

In fact, it was King - as an Iowa state senator before coming to Capitol Hill - who led his state's effort to pass English-language unity legislation. The bill was signed into law in 2002.

TERRORIST WITH WINGS

An emergency hazmat team that descended on the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington wasn't worried about anthrax.

"The first wing on the sixth floor has been closed and people in hazmat dress are cleaning up the pigeon poop," says our insider. "Pigeons had been living in the attic vents for years and when the snow and rain came it washed the pigeon poop down the walls and ceilings into the offices on the top floor. ...

"All the employees in the area have been relocated."