Washington Bulletin

Washington Bulletin

Asiagate in August: Gone Fishin'
Thursday's New York Times writes about the incredibly sweeping subpoenas Fred Thompson's Asiagate committee has issued on independent political groups. Now that the committee is not just hitting conservatives, the mainstream press is noticing how out of line these subpoenas are. As one committee staffer quoted by the Times says, it's a "fishing expedition." It's more than that: it's also the preliminary step in what will likely be this fall's public-relations push for campaign-finance reform. Beating back an attempt to curb their First Amendment rights is already becoming a priority of groups like National Right to Life—along with the Christian Coalition and the Heritage Foundation a subject of a subpoena—which of course have better things to do. If Fred Thompson wants to go fishing he should do it in Shanghai.

Pennant Race Update
OK, it's August, it's hot, everyone is out of town, so we offer our "pennant race update," first in an occasional series. AL East: The Orioles have already had their slide this year (their awful stretch right around the all-star break), and their pitching is probably too good—not just the starters, but the bullpen too—for another prolonged skid. So the chances are that the O's will hold off the Yankees, who are a stronger team than earlier in the year and are positioned for a strong finish, especially with the addition of the right-handed bat of Mike Stanley (although, giving up young arms like Tony Armas often doesn't pay off in the end). Watch the Yanks on their tough West Coast trip next week for indications if they are again championship material. . . . AL Central: Is this a joke or what? Just about two weeks after he gave up on the year, Jerry Reinsdorf's White Sox are within striking distance of the limping Indians. Will Reinsdorf now have to trade to get back some of the pitching he just let go? Look for the Indians to win the Central, but in unimpressive fashion. . . . AL West: Speaking of bad trades. Right after they let super prospect Jose Cruz, Jr. go for some questionable bullpen help, the Mariners suddenly seem to need hitting. Look for the Seattle bats eventually to heat and for the Mariners to hold off Anaheim, who with lead-off hitter Tony Phillips in drug trouble will be hard pressed to beat the Yanks for the wildcard spot. . . . NL East: Give the Marlins credit, the juiced-up Florida team has stayed in contention against Atlanta. But the Braves are still just too good—a model in fact, of maintaining an excellent team in the fluid 1990s—and Florida will have to settle for a possible shot at them in the post-season from the wildcard spot. Honorable mention goes to the New York Mets, who out of nowhere marshaled a stronger-than-expected performance this year (they'd be in first place in the Central and close to it in the West). . . . NL Central: Pretty good is good enough in the Central, as the Houston Astros will hold off the scrappy Pittsburgh Pirates, who proved this year that even in that age of big contracts you can put together a decent team on youth and hunger, but unfortunately still not win a division. . . . NL West: Everyone assumed the San Francisco Giants, who were part of baseball's last real pennant race with the Braves in 1993, would coast in the West since they are the beneficiaries of Reinsdorf's folly. But the Dodgers are hanging tough, and may pull at bit of an upset.

To view all of our Asiagate updates,

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Updated By:
Rich Lowry - National Political Reporter
Ramesh Ponnuru - National Reporter

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