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Washington Insight

September 06, 1993|ART PINE, JAMES BORNEMEIER and JOHN M. BRODER

HOWE LONG?: Dissatisfaction is mounting within the Clinton Administration over the performance of retired U.S. Adm. Jonathan Howe as the United Nations' chief representative in Somalia. . . . While officials won't say so publicly, a growing number fault Howe for embroiling the United Nations (and hence the United States) in a dangerous game of wits with fugitive Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid. . . . The complaints against Howe center on two alleged missteps: first, that he allowed order to deteriorate in Mogadishu by relaxing the heavy patrolling of city neighborhoods set up by Marines when the U.S. military was in charge; second, that by declaring Aidid an outlaw and halting talks after the killing of 24 Pakistani troops on June 5, he personalized the contest between the United Nations and Aidid. . . . Officials say that the Administration has no plans to try to oust Howe. Instead, they hope he will take the hint and step aside when his first tour expires this fall. . . . Meanwhile, they are looking for ways to cool down the situation in Somalia without having to capture Aidid. In one proposal, the Organization for African Unity would assume a larger peacemaking role.

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COUNTING SHEEP: Big Agriculture is singing the praises of a former nemesis, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose reform stance on state water policies during the campaign helped Republican John Seymour raise $500,000 in ag money. . . . But farm groups--especially California's sizable sheep-raising industry--have been wowed by her successful efforts to protect the oft-maligned wool and mohair subsidy program from budget-cutters. . . . "We had concerns about Feinstein going into the election," said a Farm Bureau source, "but we've been pleasantly surprised." Said another: "We're very pleased, but I can't give you a reason why she did it." Feinstein's rationale: During lean times, jobs are jobs.

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SPECIAL ED: At a recent White House briefing, a reporter wanted to know why some sins might be taxed to finance President Clinton's health care plan while others would be exempted. The Administration is expected to levy more excise taxes on cigarettes and hard liquor, for instance, but not on beer and wine. . . . "Dee Dee," CNN's Wolf Blitzer inquired of White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, "what's the difference between beer and wine on the one hand and liquor on the other?" Myers, who just turned 32 but can still remember her teens, didn't miss a beat: "Did you go to high school?" she answered. . . . But there's a simple political explanation: House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) represents a district in St. Louis, headquarters of brewery Anheuser-Busch Inc. And California is home to the nation's biggest wineries--and 54 electoral votes.

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SHORT TAKES: Conservatives wasted little time in taking on new Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who cast her first vote to block the execution of a Texas man. Free Congress Foundation analyst Tom Jipping quickly branded her a "liberal activist," soft on crime. . . . The rumored appointment of California Secretary of State March Fong Eu as ambassador to Malaysia appears hung up--officially by the slow bureaucratic process. Unofficially, sources say, some Clinton advisers abhor the thought of letting Republican Gov. Pete Wilson choose a replacement for Eu--one of the state's most popular Democrats.

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