- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Defending Hispanics

Five Republican members of the U.S. House announced yesterday that they are forming the Congressional Hispanic Conference.

The new group will work to overcome "unacceptable ideological bars" placed in the way of Hispanics by liberal Democrats, the lawmakers said in an article on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

Reps. Henry Bonilla of Texas; brothers Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all of Florida; and Devin Nunes of California said formation of the Hispanic Conference was inspired by what he called the "double standards" applied to judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, who has been the subject of a filibuster by Senate Democrats.

"One of the most offensive aspects of the opposition to the nomination of Mr. Estrada is the notion put forth by some Hispanic Democrats and leftist activist groups that he is 'Hispanic in name only' that because he is a mainstream lawyer, he doesn't represent the Hispanic community," the lawmakers said.

"Are we truly willing to exclude our accomplished minorities on the grounds that they have not pigeonholed their careers by focusing on one racial community? The suggestion jeopardizes the future of other qualified Hispanics because of unacceptable ideological bars. But apparently Democrats believe that they alone should get to decide what a 'Hispanic' should be."

The lawmakers added: "The new Hispanic Conference will promote policy outcomes that serve the best interests of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent and, thereby, all Americans. In this endeavor, we are pledged to place principle above partisanship on issues directly affecting the betterment of the Hispanic and Portuguese communities."

Surprise appearance

Presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, poked fun at his heritage in a surprise appearance at a St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Boston.

Despite his Irish surname, Mr. Kerry recently discovered that he is descended from Austrian Jews after a newspaper charted his family history.

"No matter who you are, everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day … except John Kerry," joked state Sen. John A. Hart Jr., a Democrat and host of Sunday's event.

Mr. Kerry, whose office previously announced that he would not attend the breakfast because of his recent prostate cancer surgery, startled the packed crowd by showing up then taking jabs at himself, the Associated Press reports.

He ended his brief appearance onstage by singing a parody of "If You're Irish Come Into the Parlor," titled "If You're Yiddish Come Into the Parlor."

The 'Specter watch'

The campaign wing of Senate Democrats announced yesterday that it is organizing an "Arlen Specter watch" to see whether the Republican senator from Pennsylvania moves to the right to counter a 2004 Republican primary challenge from Rep. Patrick J. Toomey.

"It's just beginning, but everybody should be looking for the 'Specter Two Step' at a dance hall near you soon," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a press release yesterday.

"In fact, you may want to get out of the way as U.S. Senator Arlen Specter is sure to begin literally tripping over himself (right foot first) to move to the political right as he feels the heat from his primary challenger, U.S. Representative Pat Toomey.

"The DSCC will be keeping an eye on Senator Specter, and is calling on concerned citizens to do the same. If you spot Senator Specter veering to the right for political expediency, divorcing himself of past positions to fend off the Toomey challenge, please let us know by dropping us an email at arlenspecterwatch@dscc.org.

"The Arlen Specter watch has begun."

The Bradley Prizes

"Up to four people will win $250,000 apiece this September as the first recipients of the Bradley Prizes, a new set of awards for intellectual or civic achievement given by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation," John J. Miller writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

" 'We want to recognize and award the people who generate important ideas and those who use them,' says Michael Grebe, president and chief executive of the foundation. …

"Recipients of the Bradley Prizes will fall into one of two broad categories, says Grebe. 'There are the "thinkers" who make intellectual contributions, and the "doers" who implement those ideas.'

"In the coming weeks, the Bradley Foundation will invite about 100 people to submit nominations. They will include figures from academia, public-policy research, journalism, business and the arts. They won't be allowed to nominate themselves, and six of them will be asked to serve on a selection committee with three members of the Bradley board and staff to review the nominations and pick the winners. The members of the committee will remain anonymous until the awards are announced," Mr. Miller said.

"The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation has been a vital funder of conservative causes for nearly two decades. This year it expects to [disburse] about $30 million in grants to groups and individuals that include the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

"Many will compare the new Bradley Prizes to the MacArthur Fellows Program, sometimes called the MacArthur 'genius' grants, which award $500,000 to as many as 40 people each year. Of the 635 people who have made the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's cut since 1981, almost none have been conservatives. (One exception is Robert Woodson of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise; he took home a MacArthur award in 1990.)"

Moynihan hospitalized

Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat, was in critical but stable condition yesterday, with an infection after an emergency appendectomy.

Mr. Moynihan, who turned 76 Sunday, was in the intensive-care unit of the Washington Hospital Center, said Paula Faria, a hospital spokeswoman. He underwent an emergency appendectomy March 11, said former aide Tony Bullock, who was fielding media questions.

Mr. Bullock said Mr. Moynihan was recovering well until Thursday, when an infection set in. Doctors believe they have the infection stabilized, Mr. Bullock said.

"The assessment of his doctors is there's been no irreversible damage to the senator. … We're hoping for the best," Mr. Bullock said.

Mr. Moynihan has suffered a series of health setbacks in recent months. He was hospitalized in January for an intestinal disorder and soon after for a back injury.

Sheen's defense

Martin Sheen defended the rights of Hollywood anti-war activists to express their views in an opinion piece published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.

"Whether celebrity or diplomat, cabdriver or student, all deserve a turn at the podium," Mr. Sheen wrote.

Mr. Sheen, 62, criticized those who he said were trying to denigrate his and other Hollywood activists' views, "solely due to our celebrity status."

Mr. Sheen, who plays the president on NBC's "The West Wing," said celebrity activists carry added responsibility because their statements are likely to receive press coverage.

"As a result, we are often called to give voice to the voiceless and a presence to the marginalized," wrote Mr. Sheen, who has frequently expressed sympathy for the people of Iraq.

His article was published next to an opinion piece by Esra Naama, an Iraqi-American from San Diego, who wrote that her family fled Saddam Hussein's brutal regime in 1992.

"When Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Barbra Streisand speak about the Iraqi people, they are not speaking about people like me," wrote Miss Naama, a member of the nonprofit group Women for a Free Iraq.

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