Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Leahy’s ethnic bias
“It’s too bad Miguel Estrada never thought of doing a reverse Geraldo Rivera (formerly Jerry) and renamed himself Mike Smith. He’d probably be sitting on the federal bench right now. But Mr. Estrada, who was one of President Bush’s first judicial nominations, can’t even get a hearing from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy,” the Wall Street Journal says.
“The reason, as Mr. Estrada’s detractors are only too happy to whisper, is his ethnic background. His nomination is being sidelined because he is a keen legal mind who happens to be Hispanic and therefore might someday become the first Hispanic member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Welcome to the world of judicial profiling, as practiced by the liberal majority of the U.S. Senate,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
“This is all part of a larger pattern of judicial obstruction that has left 108 current vacancies on the federal bench. More than a third of those openings have been classified as judicial emergencies by the nonpartisan U.S. Judicial Conference. At the end of their first years in office, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all had at least 85 percent of their judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate. With only days to go before the Senate adjourns for the year, only 28 percent of George W. Bush’s nominees have been confirmed.
“In 1998, when there were even fewer vacancies, Mr. Leahy said that any week in which the Senate ‘does not confirm three judges is a week in which the Senate is failing to address the vacancy crisis.’ But now Mr. Leahy gets to screen the ethnicity and credentials of nominees, and on the evidence he’d rather keep a vital court understaffed than allow a qualified Hispanic on the bench.”

Blocking civil rights
“A Saudi Arabian student attending the University of North Dakota was assaulted in a bar last week, apparently because of his ethnicity. It’s the sort of incident the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights might want to investigate except that OCR currently has nobody at its helm, because Senate Democrats won’t give a hearing to Gerald Reynolds, President Bush’s nominee for the post,” John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at
“Although OCR currently monitors reports of discrimination and tries to carry out its mandate, no organization can work at maximum effectiveness when it lacks a leader. Reports about anti-Arab discrimination in the United States are often overblown, but it’s impossible to deny that many innocent Arab-Americans now face difficulties they did not encounter prior to September 11. OCR has a clear role to play in cases where genuine discrimination exists, and where federal laws covering K-12 schools and college campuses have been violated. Yet it won’t perform its job as well as possible while Reynolds languishes,” the writers said.
“When Bush announced his intention to nominate Reynolds, civil rights groups raised objections to him because they can’t tolerate the idea of someone who has criticized racial preferences occupying one of the federal government’s most important civil rights jobs. They also have gone after Reynolds on Title IX grounds, even though Reynolds seems never to have written a word on the subject.
“Almost the entire political class has declared that combating discrimination against Arabs is a national priority. As long as Senate Democrats delay consideration of Reynolds, their words to that effect will ring hollow.”

A new low in Houston
“It isn’t New Year’s yet, but the fireworks are going off in Houston’s nationally watched December 1 mayoral run-off election. Now, the campaign has sunk to a new low, as incumbent Democrat Lee Brown, Houston’s first black mayor, has done his best to imitate racial arsonist Al Sharpton in his latest hatchet job on challenger Republican Orlando Sanchez,” Marc Levin writes at
“First, according to the November 26 Houston Chronicle, Brown campaign signs began appearing throughout Houston in late November calling Sanchez ‘anti-Hispanic.’ It is repugnant Uncle Tom-style bigotry to imply that Sanchez, because he is a conservative Cuban-American, is somehow not a ‘real Hispanic,’” said Mr. Levin, who is associate editor of the Austin Review in Texas.
“Then Brown campaign manager Craig Varoga accused Sanchez of ‘trying to intimidate black voters, who form the base of Brown’s support’ simply because Sanchez, like Brown, is getting volunteers to serve as poll watchers on election day. Of course, there is not a shred of evidence that Sanchez poll watchers are harassing black voters.
“Now, the Brown campaign is massively disseminating an automated telephone message recorded by Louvon Harris, the sister of Jasper, Texas, dragging death victim James Byrd. This recording blasts Sanchez for voting against making passage of the hate crimes bill in the 2001 legislative session part of the official City of Houston legislative agenda.”

Rendell vs. Casey
Edward G. Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was scheduled to officially announce his candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania yesterday.
“So begins the campaign for the Democratic nomination, pitting Rendell against Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr., in what is expected to be one of the sharpest and most expensive primary battles in state history,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“Rendell, a popular two-term mayor, offers himself to a state heading into a slowdown as an experienced hand at economic development. His calling card is the turnaround of a city flirting with bankruptcy, by tightening the budget and buffing up the business climate,” reporter Thomas Fitzgerald writes.
“Casey, the heir to a resonant name in Pennsylvania politics, says he is the champion of traditional Democratic values. He captured the momentum during the summer, sewing up support from party leaders and most of the state’s labor unions.”

Condit candidacy?
“Democratic Rep. Gary Condit the subject of a summer tabloid frenzy over his relationship with missing former Washington intern Chandra Levy took the first step Monday toward a 2002 bid for his eighth term in Congress,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
“The Ceres Democrat submitted the signatures of an estimated 4,500 supporters to three county election offices in the 18th Congressional District, which stretches from Stockton to Merced in California’s San Joaquin Valley, campaign supporters said.
“The move, intended to provide a show of voter support, allows Mr. Condit to waive a $1,451 filing fee to become a candidate for the March 2002 Democratic primary.
“Political insiders say Mr. Condit once an electoral sure bet among moderate voters may be embarking on the political equivalent of ‘Mission Impossible’ after a summer of headlines regarding his affair with the young intern, who disappeared last April and has never been found.”

Family ties
“Massachusetts is a fund-raising mecca for the Kennedy family, a lesson apparently not lost on cousin Mark Shriver,” the Boston Globe reports.
“The Maryland state delegate, a Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District in suburban Washington, will be in Boston Dec. 11-12 for a variety of events,” the newspaper said.
“Some of his fellow Holy Cross graduates are hosting a breakfast Dec. 11 at Sel de la Terre on State Street, while the lawyers at Mintz Levin are sponsoring an evening event. On Dec. 12, Boston University President Jon Westling is host for a fund-raising breakfast. Shriver is the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver and the brother of TV correspondent Maria Shriver.”

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