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Insider Report: A WMD Bunker for Congress?

Friday, 23 September 2005 12:00 AM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):

1. Richard Viguerie to Bush: Don't Nominate Gonzales … or Else

Conservative icon Richard A. Viguerie has taken action to head off the potential nomination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court.

In a strongly worded letter to leading conservatives, Viguerie asks them to sign a letter urging President Bush not to nominate Gonzales, calling him a "moderate/liberal" who "would not be a strict constructionist." He added that the nomination could lead conservatives to bolt the GOP.

Viguerie, a consultant and direct mail specialist who helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, quotes Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review in making his case against Gonzales:

His confirmation "would be seen as a complete victory for the other side on every difficult liberal-conservative issue before the Supreme Court."

"Justice Priscilla Owen, now a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, said the Gonzales decision ‘has usurped the role of the trial court, reweighed the evidence, and drawn its own conclusion.'"

In Viguerie's letter, which he vows to send to Bush and key Republican leaders, he implores the president:

"We have supported you and your presidency based on your pledges to restore a more conservative form of government. Among the most important was your pledge to appoint judges and justices who would strictly adhere to the terms of the Constitution, in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

"We would see a nomination of Alberto Gonzales as a break from your pledge …

"In this private letter, we respectfully advise that a failure to keep your pledge about judicial appointments could and should result in conservatives abandoning your presidency, and by implication, the Republican Party. Please keep in mind that we want you and the Republican majority to succeed."

This is not the first time Viguerie has gone on the offensive in an attempt to safeguard conservative principles.

As the Insider Report revealed in August, Viguerie sent an open letter to Washington Republicans, saying they've abandoned their conservative principles, risking defeat in the 2006 elections.

Viguerie wrote: "It has become increasingly clear that Republicans in Washington care little or nothing about grassroots conservatives and the values they hold dear.

2. "Hollywood Nation" Is No. 2 Bestseller

NewsMax columnist Jim Hirsen's new book "Hollywood Nation" has shot to the No. 2 position on the Human Events Book Service's bestseller list.

It's an important new work that exposes the often subtle but powerful influence the entertainment world has in shaping public opinion.

In its review of "Hollywood Nation: Left Coast Lies, Old Media Spin, and the New Media Revolution," Human Events Book Service - which tracks sales of conservative books - states:

"Hollywood elites are doing their best to infect Americans with liberal ideas.

"But in ‘Hollywood Nation,' bestselling author and media critic James Hirsen exposes their sinister game - and helps you to be on your guard against this subtle and often not-so-subtle brainwashing."

Hirsen writes the NewsMax column "The Left Coast Report."

His new book is just behind The Human Events Book Service's No. 1 bestseller, "Flat Tax Revolution" by Steve Forbes.

3. A Bunker on Capitol Hill?

Check out the Web site of the Capitol Visitor Center, now under construction in Washington, and you'll read about the facility's exhibit areas, theaters, gift shops, dining room and other features.

Nowhere will you see it described as a "bunker" for members of Congress.

But that's just what the liberal Progressive Review calls the huge structure.

According to the Web site, the federally-funded Visitor Center "will provide a dramatically improved educational experience for all visitors: an experience enhanced through exhibits, displays of historic documents and documentary presentations."

The project "will include space for exhibits, visitor comfort, food service, two orientation theaters, an auditorium, gift shops, security, a service tunnel for truck loading and deliveries, mechanical facilities, storage, and much-needed space for the House and Senate."

Well, is it a bunker?

True, the three-level, 580,000-square-foot center is located underground, beneath the East Capitol Grounds.

But officially, the facility was placed underground "so as to enhance rather than detract from the appearance of the Capitol and its historic Frederick Law Olmstead landscape."

Nevertheless, the Progressive Review and its editor Sam Smith insist that the Visitor Center is a "euphemism for a congressional bunker three-quarters the size of the current Capitol building" for Congress members "who may need to be protected in the bunker as a result of the disastrous foreign policies they have approved."

Bunker or no bunker, one thing is for certain: Construction of the center is behind schedule - and way over budget. Some things never change.

The original cost estimate was $265 million, but by last year the figure had increased to $455 million. The Government Accountability Office now projects the final cost at around $522 million.

The center was scheduled for completion in September 2006, but the likely date now is between December 2006 and March 2007, according to Bernard L. Ungar of the GAO.

In July, the Senate authorized the expenditure of an additional $44 million for the center.

4. Stars and Swipes - Celebs Bash U.S.

Some Hollywood celebs have a nasty habit of saying the most awful things about America while abroad, reports Jim Hirsen, author of the new bestseller "Hollywood Nation: Left Coast Lies, Old Media Spin, and the New Media Revolution."

Recent examples that have been reported by the foreign press include the following:

After praising the Europeans, Paltrow further dumped on the country that made her career possible. She added that "it's a strange time to be an American now. I feel like we're really in trouble. I just had a baby and thought, ‘I don't want to live there.' Bush's anti-environment, pro-war policies are a disaster."

Said Hirsen: "I have an idea. If while abroad a celebrity bashes the U.S., we should revoke their citizenship and/or their visas.

"Then they'll have to come into the country the way everyone else does - across the Mexican border."

 

5. Sec. Of State Daniels Joins Governor's Race in N.Y.

New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels is stepping down from his post to lay the groundwork for a run for governor.

Hillary Clinton, take note.

The Senator from New York is running for re-election next year even though it's widely believed that she'll campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

Daniels, on the other hand, is leaving office rather than trying to begin a gubernatorial campaign while still performing his duties as secretary of state.

New Yorkers "can't afford" Eliot Spitzer - the front-runner for the Democratic nomination - as the next governor, according to Daniels' finance chairman Patrick B. Donahue.

In announcing Daniels' first fundraiser, Donahue told NewsMax: "Not only do we risk losing the Governor's Mansion to Eliot Spitzer, we also run the risk of losing control of the New York State Senate. If we are to stop this we must act now."

Gov. George Pataki, who has announced he won't seek re-election next year, issued a statement praising Daniels:

"Randy Daniels is an energetic and innovative leader who is strongly committed to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

"Randy played key roles in promoting economic development, protecting our environment and improving public safety. He has been a trusted advisor willing to take on all challenges and assignments.

"I am confident he will continue to play a productive role in building stronger communities and a stronger Empire State."

6. Bastiat Prize Finalists Announced

The International Policy Network has announced the six finalists for the fourth annual Bastiat Prize for journalism.

The Bastiat Prize - named after 19th-century French philosopher Frederic Bastiat - honors writers whose published work promotes the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech and sound science.

"The caliber of the journalists who enter this now highly prestigious competition is staggering," said IPN Executive Director Julian Morris.

"We received over 180 submissions from 30 countries. With difficulty, we have whittled this down to six."

The 2005 finalists and where their articles were published are:

Three articles from each finalist have been sent to a panel of judges, and the winner of the $10,000 award will be revealed at a dinner on October 25.

According to the IPN, entries are judged on the basis of "intellectual content of each article, the persuasiveness of the language used, the type of publication in which it appeared and the location of the author."

The panel of judges includes Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, Cato Institute founder Edward Crane and Ruth Richardson, former finance minister of New Zealand.

7. Executive Privilege for Harris and Shalala

If Rep. Katherine Harris wins the race for the U.S. Senate from Florida, she'll arrive in style at the Senate Office Building - in a nifty BMW 645ci convertible.

The car was spotted in the House members' parking lot sporting a "Harris for Senate" bumper sticker, according to the publication The Hill.

Its six-speed V-8 delivers 325 horsepower and zips from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds.

BMW's Web site boasts of the 645ci: "Pure passion. The 6. The ultimate reward."

Base Price: $77,000.

The Hill also reports that two Washington women claim they were bumped from an airline flight by former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.

Tammy Gordon, who worked on the Gore campaign, attended the Florida State-Miami football game in Tallahassee and arrived with a friend at the airport in the Florida capital to catch a flight home.

Gordon said US Airways told them they were too late and would have to fly standby.

But Gordon claims that when Shalala, now president of the University of Miami, showed up at the airport with two friends, they were ticketed "right in front of us," Gordon told The Hill.

"It was total VIP treatment. We were left behind."

An airline spokesman denied that Shalala and her two friends - former Speaker of the Florida House and Florida State president T.K. Wetherell and his wife - received any VIP treatment.

The spokesman said the flight was oversold and Shalala, who had a ticket but not a seat assignment, "was one of the people on the oversale list."

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