Campaign begins

John McCaslin
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Posted: Aug 08, 2003 12:00 AM

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts says President Bush "is vulnerable" in facing re-election next year, but he also admits that his Democratic Party has "our work cut out for us to win the election."

Trying to drum up financial support for the 2004 presidential contest, Kennedy warns that Bush won't hesitate to spend his "bottomless" campaign fund to "smear our nominee with lies and accusations."

Republicans by the end of this year could have upwards of $250 million on hand for Bush's re-election bid, while the Democratic National Committee is also beginning to fill its own presidential fund to back the party's eventual nominee.

Speaking of smearing the candidates, Mr. Kennedy starts the mud-slinging by charging that "it's clear beyond doubt that [Mr. Bush] and his administration manipulated the nation into war in Iraq, and had no serious plan to win the peace."

KEEP YOUR SPAM

Nobody seems to be able to block pornographic "spam" on the Internet, but an innocuous newspaper article about bishop-elect Canon V. Gene Robinson's controversial Web site has been bounced back to America by the British.

"I sent an e-mail to Lord John Taylor in the (British) House of Lords and the Houses of Parliament blocked it, sending the note below," says Nina May, president of the Renaissance Women Network:

"This is to advise you that your e-mail has been blocked and will be deleted by the Houses of Parliament in due course since we believe it has inappropriate content. The intended recipient has not received the e-mail."

The newspaper article sent via e-mail to the British lord, a friend of May's, reported that the New Hampshire cleric was behind the creation of "Outright," an Internet site with the following mission statement: "Outright's mission is to create safe, positive, and affirming environments for young gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and questioning people ages 22 and under."

BIKER DUDE

More than a half-million motorcycle enthusiasts and nearly 1,000 vendors - peddling everything from tattoos to alligator meat - have converged on South Dakota for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Among them - rolling into town atop his shiny 2003 Harley-Davidson, Maryland tags "LIDDY" - is Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy.

"I am a motorcyclist and have been for years - I'm on my fifth Harley-Davidson," Liddy tells this column from Sturgis, where all week long he's broadcasting the Westwood One syndicated "The G. Gordon Liddy Show" to some 250 radio stations.

"I've always wanted to get to the 'mecca' of all biker dudes, which is the great Sturgis rally. So I drove 1,826 miles to get here," says the suburban Washingtonian.

And how was the cruise?

"There was a half-day of intense rains, which I drove through, but the rest of the time the weather was glorious and the scenery beautiful," says the former FBI agent who helped orchestrate the Watergate break-in.

Are the bikers and locals happy to see you?

"Yes and no," Liddy says. "I'm staying in Deadwood, where they proclaimed it G. Gordon Liddy Day. And I was the distinguished speaker at the mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall at the Buffalo Chip Camping Grounds ... .

"On the other hand, the governor of South Dakota, Mike Rounds - who is a Republican - issued a proclamation that it was supposed to be G. Gordon Liddy Day in all of South Dakota tomorrow, but he rescinded the proclamation."

You don't say?

"It's quite controversial, and my supporters are outraged," says Liddy. "But to be fair, the governor said he never knew about the proclamation - that some low-level staffer issued it without his knowledge. And I'm a 'political person,' and the rally is supposed to be nonpolitical."

Still, he has it on good authority - "and I have a lot of sources out here" - that a few envious casino hotel owners "got on the governor's case" because the radio host has generated so much business for the 4 Aces Casino in Deadwood, where Liddy has kept busy autographing the 2004 edition of his infamous "Stacked and Packed" pin-up calendars.

Liddy has discovered that bikers can't get enough of the "politically incorrect" calendars, as he calls them, "which feature young ladies in their undies" sitting atop various cycles.

ONE VOICE

If 92 members of Congress have their way, Americans will soon be speaking the same official language - English.

Before we get to that, Mauro E. Mujica, chairman of U.S. English Inc., wrote to us after we'd written recently that Congress on several occasions has voted against making English the official language of the United States.

"In fact," Mujica points out, "Congress has voted four times on official English in the last 21 years. Each time it has come up for a vote, it has passed. In 1982, the Senate passed a 'Sense of Congress' that English is the official language of the United States by a vote of 78-21. In 1983, a similar measure was contained in an immigration bill, which passed by a vote of 76-18. Two years later, another 'Sense of Congress' passed the Senate by a voice vote.

"In 1996, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 123, which would have made English the official language of the United States, by a vote of 259-169. The bill died in the Senate as it was not voted on before the end of the 104th Congress."

In other words, Congress, as a whole, has declined, for whatever reason, to make English the official language.

"Unfortunately, both houses of Congress have never passed it at the same time," James Lubinskas, communications director for U.S. English, explained. "So Congress has never voted against making English the official language, but they have yet to vote concurrently to do so. Hopefully, that will change with H.R. 997."

In February of this year, Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, introduced H.R. 997, the English Language Unity Act of 2003, which already has 92 co-sponsors.

"Whenever it is put to a vote, official English passes," says Mujica. "This should be no surprise, as polls show 84 percent of Americans support making English our official language."

HIPPIE RETURN

"Environmentalists Against War" will converge in San Francisco on Oct. 4 to draw attention to the environmental and social justice effects of war - from Iraq to the home front.

Concerns of the activists (in their own words): erosion of civil liberties while targeting U.S. immigrants, labor and people of color; analysis of the military budget and what social services are suffering as a result; military exemptions from environmental laws under the guise of national security; proposed new U.S. nuclear and conventional weapons and the resultant arms race; public health impacts of depleted uranium and other war-related toxins; oil dependency and the Bush administration's energy policy; U.S. refusal to sign treaties that ban weapons; exposing WMD (weapons of mass destruction) "lies" and the propaganda campaign for war; and the next presidential election.

We guess the latter means they won't be supporting George W. Bush - granted they vote.

WITHERSPOON, ET AL

There was an anniversary last weekend that few Americans knew about.

Yes, the written Declaration of Independence was dated July 4, but it wasn't signed until Aug. 2. In other words, Independence Day should have been celebrated this year on Saturday.

Or should it have been July 2? After all, it was on that day in 1776 that the Continental Congress voted for independence.

"John Adams, in his writings, even noted that July 2 would be remembered in the annals of American history and would be marked with fireworks and celebrations," educates historians at the National Archives.

Here's what else archivists tell us: Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was edited by Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson took their edits and incorporated them into what would become the version finally adopted.

John Hancock signed first "with a large hand right in the middle" because he was president of the Congress. The others signed by state delegation, beginning in the upper right in one column, and proceeding in five other columns arranged from the northernmost state (New Hampshire) to the southernmost (Georgia), although Thomas McKean of Delaware is believed to be the last person to sign.

After the signing ceremony of Aug. 2, the Declaration was kept in Philadelphia. But on Dec. 12, under British threat, it departed with Congress for Baltimore. The declaration then continued to travel throughout the Northeast, until it was finally moved to Washington in 1800.

More than a dozen years later, when the Brits threatened again, the document was actually moved to a gristmill in Virginia. Later, as the Brits were torching the White House, it was moved again to Leesburg, Va. Even as late as World War II, the document was put aboard a Pullman train and transported to Fort Knox for safekeeping.

On Sept. 18, the National Archives will reopen its rotunda to present a newly re-encased Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Oh, and one final piece of trivia: Actress Reese Witherspoon is a direct descendant of John Witherspoon, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration. John Witherspoon is even pictured in the famous Barry Faulkner Mural, "The Declaration of Independence," showing the 28 delegates to the Continental Congress of 1776.

GUTKNECHT FOR CHAIRMAN

It's worth mentioning that Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) has returned more than $100,000 of his 2002 office budget to the general fund.

"We try to run a tight ship," says the congressman. "I'm always cognizant of the fact that we are spending taxpayers' dollars. This office doesn't belong to my staff and me."

Those are rare words coming from a congressman. But what's really worth noting is that since Gutknecht was first elected to Congress in 1994, he has returned more than $800,000 in taxpayer funds - money other congressmen have no trouble spending - to the general piggy bank.

"If we expect other federal agencies to be more fiscally responsible," as the congressman explains it, "we have to do so ourselves."

Gutknecht, we'd like to point out, is a member of the House Budget Committee. However, we recommend the congressman be elevated to Budget Committee chairman as soon as the next vacancy occurs.