Jewish World Review June 28, 2002 / 18 Tamuz, 5762

Peter Roff

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Capital Comment | (UPI) Seeing Red -- The ruling by a U.S. federal court in San Francisco concerning the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance brings to mind an essay comedian Red Skleton shared with his audience many years ago on the subject. The essay diagrams the pledge.

" I -- Me; an individual; a committee of one. Pledge -- Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity. Allegiance -- My love and my devotion. To the Flag - - Our standard; Old Glory ; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job. United -- That means that we have all come together. States -- Individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country. And to the Republic -- Republic -- a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people. For which it stands, One Nation -- One Nation -- meaning, so blessed by G-d. Indivisible -- Incapable of being divided. With Liberty -- Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation. And Justice -- The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others. For All -- For All --which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine."

After asking the boys and girls in the audience to recite the pledge along with him, Skelton shared this additional observation: "Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under G-d. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?" Yes Mr. Skelton, it would be a pity.

Docking maneuver -- As part of the ongoing initiative to transform the military into a 21st century fighting force, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced Wednesday the intention to merge two unified commands whose missions include control of America's nuclear forces, military space operations, computer network operations, strategic warning and global planning. The intended merger of U.S. Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command will, according to Rumsfeld, "improve combat effectiveness and speed up information collection and assessment needed for strategic decision-making."

"The missions of SpaceCom and StratCom have evolved to the point where merging the two into a single entity will eliminate redundancies in the command structure and streamline the decision-making process," Rumsfeld said. The merger is scheduled to take place in October 2002 and DoD officials are hopeful that the unified command will be headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Crossed lines -- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is busy e-mailing an analysis of how the race in New Jersey's 5th Congressional District is unfolding that makes it look good for their side. The Bergen Record newspaper, according to the DCCC, reports, "A former campaign chairman for (GOP Rep. Marge) Roukema ... registered Republican Douglas Dittrick, has defected to the Democrat's camp. He's already placing calls to fellow Republicans ... introducing (Democratic candidate Anne Sumers) as his 'new candidate.' There is buzz that a significant number of Roukema supporters are contemplating the same move." There is reportedly no love lost between Roukema, who is retiring after 20 years in Congress, and the GOP nominee, State Assemblyman Scott Garrett, who twice came within an eyelash of knocking Roukema off in the primary.

Gridlock -- The process for confirming President George Bush's nominees in the Senate, never smooth to begin with, is about to become even more complicated. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain is now threatening to filibuster every nominee on the floor unless the White House acts quickly on the nomination of Ellen Weintraub to a seat on the Federal Election Commission.

Democrat Weintraub is Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's choice to replace Karl Sandstrom, whose term has expired. Sandstrom, also a Democrat, has been voting with the commission's three Republican members more frequently than McCain would like as the FEC has been writing the regulations under which McCain's campaign regulation legislation will be implemented.

There are two wrinkles that further complicate matters.

The first is the Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., one of the Senate's leading opponents of the McCain-Feingold approach to campaign finance reform, is purportedly telling people he intends to filibuster Weintraub's nomination until Senate Democrats agree to a timetable for hearings and votes on President Bush's judicial nominees.

The second is that Weintraub, formerly a staffer for the House Ethics Committee, is currently a lawyer in Perkins Coie's Washington office. The D.C. office of the Seattle-based firm is believed by some Republicans to be the legal arm of a vast, left-wing conspiracy to bring down Republican leaders. Bob Bauer, the attorney who heads the firm's political law group, is though to be the legal mastermind behind many of the ethics complaints filled against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., as well as the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization suit the Democrats lodged against House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, that was thrown out of court. According to Capitol Hill gossip sheet Roll Call, "This big-time Democrat represents House and Senate Democratic campaign committees and is close to House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D. He played key roles in crafting the Clinton impeachment strategy and has handled personal ethics troubles for Gephardt and Daschle."

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