- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

Setback for Democrats

A judge rejected a redistricting proposal yesterday that would have created a Hispanic-majority congressional district for New Mexico, and instead approved a plan that makes slight changes.

The ruling was a setback for the Democrats, who had hoped a dramatic realignment and a Hispanic-majority district would give them a better shot at a second U.S. House seat in the state, the Associated Press reports. Republicans hold two of the state's three seats.

Democrats had argued that New Mexico's large number of Hispanics 42 percent of the state's population should be given a greater voice in Congress.

However, District Judge Frank Allen Jr., a Democrat, said he found "no persuasive evidence" the federal Voting Rights Act required a Hispanic-majority district.

"This court is and should be reluctant to make radical or partisan changes, unless the law requires these changes to be made," he wrote.

New Mexico's redistricting ended up in court because the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Gary E. Johnson were unable to reach an agreement during a special session in September. Several groups sued, asking the court to intervene.

Joseph Goldberg, an attorney for a group of Democrats, said no decision had been made whether to appeal.

State Sen. Ben Altamirano, a Democrat, said the ruling was a setback for attempts to give Hispanics a bigger voice in politics.

"I ran for Congress at one time, and had I had a more representative district, I may have had a better chance for winning," he said.

Overall, the plan moves 22,966 people, or 1.2 percent of the state's population, into new districts. The percentage of voting-age Hispanics in the three districts remains nearly the same 38.8 percent, 42.5 percent and 34.6 percent.

Don Bruckner, an attorney for the Republicans, whose plan Judge Allen approved, said it would preserve one district in northern New Mexico that is strongly Democratic and two swing districts, currently held by Republicans.

Low priority

President Clinton, in 1995 and 1996, rejected recommendations to shut down American-based "charities" acting as fronts for Islamic terrorists, former Clinton adviser Dick Morris writes.

"Inexplicably, Clinton ignored these recommendations. Why? FBI agents have stated that they were prevented from opening either criminal or national-security cases because of a fear that it would be seen as 'profiling' Islamic charities. While Clinton was politically correct, the Hamas flourished," Mr. Morris said in a column in the New York Post.

"Nothing so illustrates the low priority of terrorism in Clinton's first term than the short shrift he gave the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the first terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Six people were killed and 1,042 injured; 750 firefighters worked for one month to contain the damage. Bill Clinton never visited the site. Several days after the explosion, speaking in New Jersey, he actually 'discouraged Americans from overreacting' to the Trade Center bombing."

Mr. Morris noted that former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos, writing in Sunday's New York Times, said the 1993 attack "wasn't a successful bombing" and thus failed to make a deep impression on the Clinton administration.

"In sharp contrast, U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Duffy, who presided over the WTC-bombing trial, noted that the attack caused 'more hospital casualties than any other event in domestic American history other than the Civil War,'" Mr. Morris observed.

Edge of the woods

Republicans have thus far failed to recruit a top-rank challenger for Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, the Hill newspaper notes.

Mr. Torricelli, who is under investigation for possible campaign-finance violations, has been considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year.

Larry Sabato, a government professor at the University of Virginia, told the newspaper: "Torricelli is not out of the woods yet, but he is close to the edge of the woods."

Sayonara to treaty

"Just in case anyone still thinks the Kyoto treaty on global warming can be resuscitated, consider the latest from Japan," the Wall Street Journal says.

"A Japanese newspaper reports that the government has dropped mandatory new restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions, a move that means Japan won't be able to meet targets mandated under the treaty. The restrictions were too expensive for Japanese industry no way to help the country grow out of its economic slump," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"The Japanese, it appears, are beginning to understand why President Bush pulled the United States out of the treaty last year and why the Senate unanimously rejected it in 1997. The feel-good treaty, which lacks scientific evidence to support its claims of 'global warming,' simply isn't worth the price."

Another Armey

Scott Armey, the son of retiring House Majority Leader Dick Armey, planned to file the necessary documents yesterday to become a candidate for his father's seat in Congress.

Mr. Armey, a 32-year-old Denton County, Texas, administrator, will have at least three challengers for the Republican nomination in the conservative 26th District north of Dallas. At least one Democrat has said he plans to file as a candidate for his party's nomination in the race, United Press International reports.

Yesterday was the final day for candidates to file for the March 12 primary.

Mr. Armey was accompanied by his father and other members of his family when he announced Tuesday outside the Denton County Courthouse that he would make the race. He promised not to change if he is elected to Congress, and he echoed some of his father's beliefs.

"I have put my faith in the people rather than government; I've tried to manage the people's money wisely, and fought to reduce taxes; and I've always put freedom, economic opportunity and families at the top of my agenda," he said.

Dick Armey, who announced his planned retirement Dec. 13, said he offered his son little advice and said he probably will not take part in the campaign unless his schedule allows it.

"For those who say Dick Armey is running his son for Congress, I think that is unkind, unfair and inaccurate," he said. "Scott Armey is his own man."

Scott Armey was elected to the Denton County Commissioners Court at the age of 22, his first public office. He was later elected judge of the court, the top administrative job in the county.

Double standard?

The Media Research Center points to "a pretty flagrant New Year's Day double standard at the New York Times."

"Four years ago when Chief Justice William Rehnquist chastised the Republican-controlled Senate for holding up judicial nominees, the New York Times showcased the complaint on its front page under the scolding headline: 'Senate Imperils Judicial System, Rehnquist Says.' But this year, when he issued the same complaint about the Democratic-controlled Senate, the Times put the story inside and gave Rehnquist's complaint just two paragraphs the 10th and 11th ones. The headline: 'Rehnquist Says Courts Risk Losing Private-Sector Nominees.'

"In both cases, Rehnquist's comments came in his annual year-end report, on the state of the judiciary, issued every December 31," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker noted.

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