- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

No lapdog
Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, said last night he would hold the intelligence community accountable should it fail to protect the nation.
"I will not be an apologist for the intelligence community," said Mr. Roberts, who will replace Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
He made his remarks last night before the Nixon Center's Distinguished Service Award Dinner honoring CIA Director George J. Tenet for his work on national security and intelligence.
Mr. Tenet, who became CIA director in 1997, has come under fire in the wake of the September 11 attacks for not providing the nation with a better warning of what was to come.
The new chairman praised Mr. Tenet for sounding the alarm about Muslim terror years earlier.
"In '98, he said we were at war with radical elements of Islam," Mr. Roberts told the audience at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, which also included former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and former CIA Director James Woolsey.

Voting problems
South Dakota Republicans point to vote-buying and other irregularities in the Nov. 5 election that gave Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson a 524-vote win over Republican challenger John Thune.
Kim Vanneman, who collected some of the 42 signed statements for Republicans, said the accusations would not change the outcome and state Republicans have said they have no plans to contest the election.
Attorney General Mark Barnett said investigators are looking into three accusations of vote buying but that none of the other reported irregularities are violations of state election laws, the Associated Press reports.
The statements were taken in the days after the election from voters, Republican poll watchers and workers who contacted party officials.
Other accusations outlined in the affidavits include campaign workers taking voter lists and cash from Democratic poll watchers, and Democratic campaign signs too close to polling places.
Jim Leach, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party, said state elections officials have already concluded there were no major irregularities in the vote.

Voting problems II
An Arkansas judge will empanel a special grand jury next month to investigate widespread voting problems in Pulaski County during the last general election.
"I'm ready to go," said prosecutor Larry Jegley, who requested the investigation. "I think we need to get some solutions on the ground and put this mess behind us."
Mr. Jegley asked for the panel to look at how the election system could be improved, the Associated Press reports.
At least 16 jurors will be selected in mid-January from a pool of 120 registered voters to hear evidence of the voting problems in the county, which includes Little Rock, Judge John Langston ordered Monday.
Long lines and shortages of ballots during the Nov. 5 election prompted a judge to extend polling hours, though that decision was overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Long way off
Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes is on his way out, but the state flag he pushed through might continue to fly for years before voters have their say on it, Cox News Service reports.
A referendum could be delayed until 2006. And there's a possibility it may never happen, the news service said.
Key Republicans in the legislature say they fully intend to fulfill Gov.-elect Sonny Perdue's promise of a statewide vote and debate to address the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from its dominant position on the official banner.
But they also say Georgia's Constitution will probably force them to move slowly. The Constitution does not permit laws to be created by direct popular vote. Simply to get started would require a supermajority vote by the legislature to change the Constitution, Republican leaders have determined.
President Bush's coming re-election effort may pose another delay. The White House would prefer not to have the president and the Confederate battle emblem on the same 2004 ballot.

Splitting hairs
"John Kerry's hairdresser continues to make waves in Washington," Mark Steyn writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"The news that the Massachusetts senator, Democratic presidential candidate, Vietnam veteran, Big Ketchup spouse, Vietnam veteran, amateur guitarist, Vietnam veteran and Vietnam veteran gets a $75 coiffure from Cristophe's has riveted the Beltway and distracted from his message. ('As a Vietnam veteran, I know what it's like to wake up in a jungle full of terrifying bangs.' 'So was it tough finding a good salon over there?')
"To be honest, it's not entirely obvious where the 75 bucks goes. I mean, I haven't seen the back of his head in awhile, so it's possible he has an attractively angled nape. Otherwise, the most likely explanation is that it's 15 bucks for the stuff on top but he pays $30 per eyebrow for some Ann Miller industrial-strength lacquer that freezes them into that permanently furrowed look," Mr. Steyn said.
"For a politician as perpetually concerned as Sen. Kerry, this is money well spent. Come the New Hampshire primary, when the candidates are doing their grip-and-grins high atop Mount Washington, Al Gore will be howling in agony as the 200-mile-per-hour winds rip the chest hair out of his low-cut olive polo shirt and scatter it like confetti over gay weddings in neighboring Vermont, but Mr. Kerry's furrowed brow will be as attractively immobile as ever. The Kerry candidacy is such an obvious disaster waiting to happen that it seems a shame to wait for it to happen."

Jurassic hawk
A neoconservative, it has been said, is a liberal who has been mugged. By that standard, what happened to novelist Michael Crichton author of such blockbusters as "Jurassic Park" might make him a real right-winger.
"Two months ago, Michael woke in the middle of the night to find himself staring at a handgun, and two men standing over his bed," columnist P.J. Corkery writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Burglars broke into his house, tied him up, and his 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, and then ransacked the place."
Mr. Crichton is "still shaken" by the experience at his California home, and told Mr. Corkery: "I wanted a quiet life where I could do my work in peace. A lot of people have come up to me and told me that they have suffered similar experiences but you don't think about it until it happens to you. It makes me more accepting of force to stop bad guys. It's made me a lot more hawkish."

Cross-border ties
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the governors of five Mexican states that have shores on the Gulf of Mexico held a meeting yesterday aimed at strengthening economic and cultural ties.
Mr. Bush met with the governors of Veracruz, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas and Campeche in St. Petersburg, midway up Florida's western Gulf coastline, Agence France-Presse reports.
The governors met as part of an annual event agreed upon in the 1995 Gulf of Mexico States Accord. The meetings are scheduled to last through today.

Smoke signals
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council reached agreement yesterday on an ordinance to prohibit smoking in nearly every bar and restaurant and virtually all workplaces, the Associated Press reports.
Current city law prohibits smoking in restaurants with more than 35 seats but not in stand-alone bars or the bars of restaurants. The agreement extends the ban to almost all restaurants and bars, as well as offices, pool halls, bingo parlors and bowling alleys. In all, about 13,000 establishments would be covered.
Mr. Bloomberg agreed to give in on several provisions: Smoking will still be allowed in some parts of outdoor cafes; in bars that build specially ventilated smoking rooms where employees would not enter; in private clubs, such as American Legion halls; in nursing homes and similar residences that have smoking rooms; and in existing cigar bars.

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