- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

No questions
"Last week, in response to Democratic complaints that appeals-court nominee Miguel Estrada has failed to answer questions about his legal views, the White House invited any senator who has doubts about Estrada's views to send him written questions," Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"The White House asked that questions be sent in by the close of business last Friday, and pledged that Estrada would answer them by Tuesday, March 4. 'He would answer the questions forthrightly, appropriately, and in a manner consistent with the traditional practice and obligations of judicial nominees, as he has before,' wrote White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales in a letter to all 100 senators.
"As of [yesterday] afternoon, the administration had not received any questions from any senators, according to administration sources."
"Now, it is likely that Republicans will argue that when the White House gave Democrats the chance to ask any question of Estrada something Democrats had said they dearly wanted Democrats did not respond," Mr. York said.

Hispanic McCarthyism
Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, and other liberal Hispanics step on dangerous ground by suggesting that conservatives such as judicial nominee Miguel Estrada are not real Hispanics, Anthony Fuentez writes in USA Today.
"Such arguments resemble some of U.S. politics' worst tendencies racism for one," said Mr. Fuentez, a graduate student in history at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Racism reduces a complex individual personality to a stereotype, as when Harry Belafonte accused Colin Powell of turning his back on the African-American community because he works for the Bush administration. But the argument against Estrada's nomination bears an even closer resemblance to another bad tendency in U.S. politics: McCarthyism," Mr. Fuentez said.
"That virulent strain of patriotism denounced individuals as un-American simply because they held political views or behaved in ways that some self-appointed judges of patriotism despised. In the fight over the Estrada nomination, some Hispanic liberals have embraced McCarthyism's rhetorical style by essentially calling Estrada un-Hispanic."

The real extremists
"Anyone who wants to know the stakes in the battle over judicial nominee Miguel Estrada can simply observe the ongoing spectacle of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Last week the 24-member court refused to overturn the decision last year by one of its three-judge panels declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because it included the words 'under God.'
"We can hope the Supreme Court eventually reverses this judicial invention, but until then schoolkids in the nine states covered by the Circuit will be barred from reciting the Pledge after March 10. This is a splendid message to send just as U.S. troops are about to go to war to defend the principles the Pledge extols," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"The Ninth Circuit is famous for being dominated by the kind of liberal judges much loved by Sens. Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin. These are the Democrats now attempting to alter 200 years of precedent by establishing a new 60-vote Senate standard for confirming judges such as Mr. Estrada because he is allegedly 'out of the mainstream.'
"But who are the real judicial extremists? An appellate nominee (Mr. Estrada) who argued cases on behalf of three Democratic solicitor generals under Bill Clinton. Or appellate judges who impose their own legal views on decades of common American practice and legal understanding."

Pledge fight goes on
The school district at the center of the fight about the Pledge of Allegiance said yesterday it will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling barring use of the Pledge in classrooms, the Associated Press reports.
Dave Gordon, superintendent of California's Elk Grove Unified School District, also said attorneys will ask that the ruling be put on hold so children can continue reciting the Pledge.
The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which says the phrase "under God" is unconstitutional when recited in public schools, will take effect Monday in nine Western states.
Mr. Gordon said the district will substitute other patriotic exercises, such as a song, a poem or quotes from historic figures, if the ruling isn't put on hold, but yesterday students in the Sacramento, Calif., suburb started their school day with the Pledge.
A three-judge 9th Circuit panel ruled last summer that use of the Pledge in public schools violates the Constitution. It said use of the words "under God" amounts to a government endorsement of religion.

Sheen's tale
Actor Martin Sheen said NBC executives fear his opposition to a U.S.-led war against Iraq will hurt his popular television show "The West Wing."
Mr. Sheen, who plays fictional U.S. President Josiah Bartlet on the NBC series, told the Los Angeles Times for a story Sunday that the show's staff has been "100 percent supportive," but top network executives have "let it be known they're very uncomfortable with where I'm at" on the war.
The 62-year-old actor helped lead a "Virtual March on Washington" last week that flooded the White House with thousands of anti-war e-mails and has spoken out in public against any war.
But NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks told the Associated Press on Sunday that she knows of "no concern among top management at NBC regarding Mr. Sheen's stand against the war or fear that it could impact the show."

Dodd's decision
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut said yesterday he would not join the crowded field of Democratic contenders for the White House in 2004, preferring to concentrate on his work in the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Dodd had been pondering a bid for the right to challenge President Bush, but said the Senate would be the focal point for critical decisions in coming months on national security, homeland security, the economy and the environment, Reuters news agency reports.
"Every voice and every vote can make a difference," Mr. Dodd said at a news conference at Connecticut's Old State House in Hartford. "I intend to use my voice and my vote to serve the people of our state and our nation to the best of my ability."
Nine Democratic candidates have jumped into the race for the right to challenge Mr. Bush, including Mr. Dodd's Senate colleague from Connecticut, Joseph I. Lieberman, and three other senators.
Mr. Dodd, 58, is the second Senate Democrat to rule out a White House run. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota made the same decision in January.
Still considering White House bids are Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, former Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

Moral instruction
Pop singer Madonna, who once authored a sex book, has signed a contract to write five children's books.
Madonna's first book, "The English Roses," will be published in September, kicking off a series of stories written by the mother of two in the style of the children's classic "The Little Prince," Reuters news agency reports, citing her publisher, Penguin.
The children's books are a stark contrast to the pop queen's previous publishing effort, "Sex," which featured X-rated nude poses of the star and became a best seller in the early 1990s.
Penguin did not reveal how much it was paying Madonna for the books, which will be pitched at children of 6 and older. However, it said Madonna had already written the five books and each would feature illustrations by a well-known artist.
"It will be a story with a moral," said Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive of Penguin's parent company, Pearson.

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