- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Democrats battle plan
"Forty-two of the Senates 50 Democrats attended a private retreat this weekend in Farmington, Pa., where a principal topic was forging a unified party strategy to combat the White House on judicial nominees," the New York Times reports.
"The senators listened to a panel composed of professor Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, professor Cass M. Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School and Marcia R. Greenberger, the co-director of the National Womens Law Center, on the need to scrutinize judicial nominees more closely than ever," reporter Neil A. Lewis said.
"The panelists argued, said some people who were present, that the nations courts were at a historic juncture because, they said, a band of conservative lawyers around Mr. Bush was planning to pack the courts with staunch conservatives.
"'They said it was important for the Senate to change the ground rules and there was no obligation to confirm someone just because they are scholarly or erudite, a person who attended said."

Sid surrenders

Clinton spinmeister Sidney Blumenthal dropped a $30 million libel suit against Internet journalist Matt Drudge yesterday and even agreed to pay Mr. Drudge $2,500 for travel costs.
"This frivolous lawsuit, which was approved by a sitting president and vice president of the United States, comes to its wimpy conclusion with Mr. Blumenthal, I repeat, Mr. Blumenthal cutting a check," Mr. Drudge boasted last night on his Web site, the Drudge Report. "In return, I pay him nothing, and have agreed not to countersue."
Mr. Blumenthal filed the lawsuit in 1997 after Mr. Drudge reported a story that suggested Mr. Blumenthal had beat his wife, Jacqueline. Mr. Drudge apologized and retracted the report almost immediately after it appeared on his Web site.
Mr. Blumenthal signed the court papers dropping the lawsuit yesterday.
The federal lawsuit raised potentially groundbreaking issues about electronic journalism because Mr. Blumenthal also sued America Online for carrying the column. A judge already had tossed that part of the case.
Mr. Drudge last night devoted his site www.drudgereport.com to Mr. Blumenthals capitulation, calling the case "a Clinton-approved lawsuit, filed by Clintons right-hand man, being heard before a Clinton-appointed judge." He then crowed in verse: "But all the Kings horses and all the Kings men couldnt bring the Drudge Report to an untimely end!"

Bushs debate tape
A Bush campaign adviser says a stolen videotape sent to Al Gore last year shows the future president getting frustrated — then a little agitated — under tough questioning in a practice debate.
Mr. Bush got hot, but didnt lose his cool, said Stuart Stevens, who worked as a media adviser last year.
"He didnt blow up or anything. He kept it together," Mr. Stevens said Monday. "There was nothing on this tape that you didnt see in the real debate."
During the session, Mr. Stevens said, he was pretending to be moderator Tim Russert of NBC, zinging questions at Mr. Bush. The practice session was stopped by Bush communications director Karen Hughes.
Mr. Stevens, who works for Maverick Media in Austin, Texas, said no one was upset by his questioning, and he was even asked to perform more practice sessions with Mr. Bush, the Associated Press reports.
The contents of the tape were first reported Monday by Talk magazine Web site.
Juanita Yvette Lozano, a former Maverick Media worker, has been accused of secretly mailing the videotape of Mr. Bush practicing to Mr. Gores campaign.

Browners contempt
"Carol Browner doesnt mince words. During Earth Day celebrations at the University of Buffalo two weeks back, Bill Clintons former EPA administrator said President Bushs decision not to impose new CO2 reductions was 'stunning, akin to 'thumb your nose at the world. Only a few days later it emerged in court that Ms. Browner had done some pretty significant nose-thumbing herself," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Specifically, it turns out that on the last full day of the Clinton administration, Ms. Browner ordered her computer hard drive erased, notwithstanding a Landmark Legal Foundation lawsuit seeking information on it. And the admission comes from the U.S. attorneys office itself," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"What does all this tell us? Well, when John Ashcrofts nomination was before the Senate, the argument was that a man of his strong convictions could not possibly enforce laws he didnt agree with. Since then we have seen Attorney General Ashcroft announce the capture in France of a fugitive sought in the bombing of abortion clinics, while learning that it was our tree worshippers at the EPA who were letting their own religious convictions interfere with their adherence to the law."

Moynihan recruited
In what should come as no surprise to anyone, President Bushs commission to create a plan to mend Social Security is loaded with members who favor privatizing the federal retirement plan to some degree.
Mr. Bush wants to allow voluntary private investment accounts. He will officially announce his commission today, with orders to hammer out the details of a new plan by this fall.
Co-chairmen will be former Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and Richard Parsons, AOL Time Warners co-chief operating officer, aides confirmed to the Associated Press.
The commission of seven Republicans and seven Democrats also includes, The Washington Times and other media sources have reported:
* Sam Beard, author of "Restoring Hope in America: The Social Security Solution," and former aide to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
* Former Bush campaign aide John Cogan of Stanford Universitys Hoover Institution.
* Former Rep. Tim Penny, Minnesota Democrat, a co-director of the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum at the University of Minnesota.
* Carolyn L. Weaver, former director of the
American Enterprise Institute.

Thompson pays fine

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has paid a $3,000 fine for not telling state ethics officials about his investment in a condominium project when he was governor.
Mr. Thompson said he did not know that state law required him to report the investment on state financial disclosure forms, the Associated Press reports.
"It is clear that a mistake was made, and I willingly and voluntarily accept the consequences for it," Mr. Thompson wrote in a letter to state Ethics Board Director Roth Judd. The fine was paid Monday.
Mr. Thompson, who resigned as governor earlier this year to join the Bush administration, sent the board a revised statement listing the investment. The payment and new statement closed the matter, Mr. Judd said.

Hillary embraces press
Faced with a pack of reporters in the Capitol last week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton didnt grimace and duck into the nearest "Senators Only" elevator.
No, that would be the old Sen. Clinton, reporter Mary Jacoby writes in the St. Petersburg Times.
The new Hillary stopped, grinned and talked exuberantly about her "fabulous" Easter vacation in Costa Rica walking on the beach and playing cards with her husband, the former president.
"You know what was great about it? … It was the first vacation Ive had in 10 years (without press coverage). You guys got to have fun, I got to have fun, and there were no pictures of me in my bathing suit," she said.
It was a breakthrough of sorts for Mrs. Clinton, whose loathing of the press is legendary and who has avoided, as much as she could, the national spotlight since being sworn in four months ago as New Yorks junior senator.

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