- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

Silent kill
"On Capitol Hill Wednesday morning, there is a growing sense of alarm among Republicans that another of President Bush's appeals-court nominees is headed for a difficult time, and possibly even defeat, in the Senate Judiciary Committee," Byron York wrote yesterday at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Chairman Patrick Leahy has scheduled the nomination of D. Brooks Smith, President Bush's choice for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, for a vote during the committee's Thursday business meeting. But it is becoming increasingly likely that Republicans will ask that the vote be delayed for a week (committee rules allow each side one automatic one-week extension). A delay request would be an unmistakable sign that Republicans are not certain they have the votes needed to approve Smith and send his nomination to the full Senate for confirmation," Mr. York said.
"Republicans have become increasingly worried about what is called the 'silent kill' strategy, which is a term some in the GOP use to describe Democratic opposition to Smith that has coalesced largely out of public view. 'We can lose this,' says another aide. 'We better start raising the volume.'"

Left-wing shindig
Sporting more patchouli oil than Lilith Fair, more political correctness than a corporate newsroom, the Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour is on the road.
Its organizers call it a "festival with funk and function a country fair with guts." But most of all, the festival is proud of its "common man" status, the grass-roots level of its activity.
The traveling review, sponsored by salt-of-the-earth industry stalwarts such as Friends of the Earth (income for year 2000: $3,602,889), Public Citizen ($9,127,013) and Greenpeace ($7,917,416), will offer varied speeches, music and games on its multiple-city trek around the country this year. The next stop is scheduled for Chicago on June 15.
The March 23 kickoff in Austin, Texas, was splendid if you believe the Web site (www.rollingthundertour.org).
Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins showed up to charm the crowd: "The specific thing about this tour that I like is you've got to have fun while you're fighting for freedom," she said.
Fellow free-wheeling lefty advocates such as Michael Moore and Democratic U.S. Reps. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois and Barbara Lee of California also kicked up their heels and spread their message.
The whole thing is coordinated by Mike Dolan, a key organizer of the WTO protests in Seattle.

A shocking case
"It's not every day a federal appeals judge publicly scolds his own court," John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.
"Judge Danny Boggs, a 16-year veteran of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, used a blistering dissent to lay out a shocking case of judicial manipulation that this week may have resulted in an artificial 5-4 decision upholding the University of Michigan's race-based admissions policy for its law school," Mr. Fund said.
"Judge Boggs questioned the constitutional reasoning of his five colleagues, which is usual enough. But his opinion also included a 'procedural appendix' that laid out how the court's chief judge had ignored the court's 'long-established rules' in replacing the three-judge panel originally set to hear the case.
"The decision overturned a ruling by District Judge Bernard Friedman, who had held that the law school's policy under which the odds of a minority applicant being accepted were a staggering 234 times that of a non-minority applicant with the same grades and test scores was unconstitutional. As Judge Boggs wrote in his dissent: 'Michigan's plan does not seek diversity for education's sake. It seeks racial numbers for the sake of the comfort that those abstract numbers may bring. It does so at the expense of the real rights of real people to fair consideration.'"

Born to run?
A group of New Jersey political activists fed up with the usual crop of political candidates announced a plan Tuesday to draft rock star Bruce Springsteen to run for the U.S. Senate as a true representative of the state.
With guidance from Doug Friedline, a former 1998 campaign aide to heavyweight wrestler turned Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the group called Independence for New Jersey initiated a signature drive to put Mr. Springsteen on the general election ballot, Reuters reports.
The group needs 800 signatures. But there is a big problem: No one has talked to Mr. Springsteen about the idea.
Mr. Friedline was not discouraged. "It took us seven months to get Jesse Ventura to run," he said. "If Bruce Springsteen threw his hat in the ring and made a real serious run at this, I think you'd see thousands of volunteers coming out from all over the place."

Forget domestic policy
"Does anybody care about domestic policy anymore?" Fred Barnes asks at the Weekly Standard's Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).
"President Bush doesn't. He's understandably caught up in the war on terrorism and coping with Middle East troubles, and domestic matters pale in importance. The president gives the impression he'll take the course of least resistance on any domestic issue. If Congress passes it passes anything he'll sign it, if only because that's likely to upset the fewest people. Veto a bill? Heaven forbid, that might ruffle feathers." Mr. Barnes writes.
"Democrats don't care either. Yes, they're madly searching for a domestic issue to use against Bush and Republicans. But any issue will do. The Democratic test is not whether an issue is intrinsically important or will deliver a good or service that the country desperately needs. No, the test is exploitability. Will it hurt Republicans in the congressional election this fall? Will it bring down the president's sky-high popularity? If it does either, they'll jump on it. Of course, they haven't found an issue that's certain to deliver on both counts yet.
"The public cares even less than Bush and the Democrats. If folks outside Washington felt strongly about an issue, they'd let the Beltway community know, and the powers that be would respond. But the only message that Washington gets these days from the public is apathy and indifference. Forget what voters tell pollsters. The truth is, like Bush, the public senses that foreign and defense policy is what matters now. And this means a patients' bill of rights is marginalized, along with a lot of other legislation."

Close contest
Republican Rep. John Thune holds a slim lead over Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson in South Dakota's race for the Senate seat now held by Mr. Johnson, according to a new poll.
The random telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters showed Mr. Thune with 46 percent support and Mr. Johnson with 42 percent.
The public opinion poll was sponsored by Sioux Falls television station KELO and conducted in late April and early May, the Associated Press reported. The margin of error was 3.1 percent.
Thirteen percent of the respondents said they did not know which candidate they would vote for or refused to say.

Oscar buzz
"Forget 'Spider-Man.' The real blockbuster of the season is 'Jimmy and Fidel's Excellent Adventure,' starring former President Carter and Energizer Bunny Cuban dictator Fidel Castro," radio personality Laura Ingraham writes in the Los Angeles Times.
"The early reviews from the mainstream press are glowing: Carter's best performance yet! Castro seems totally at ease in his role as host! The two have a natural chemistry!
"There's Oscar buzz in the air," Miss Ingraham said.



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