Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Tilted scales

Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, learned a hard lesson about the pursuit of justice in the time of war.

First, the congressman met for 2 hours with an unnamed soldier from a military unit assigned to the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. The congressman vowed after the meeting that those Americans responsible for abusive acts against Iraqi prisoners, no matter how high up in rank they reached, would receive due punishment in the court of law.

Then, a short time later, Mr. Weldon received tragic news that one of his neighbors, Nick Berg, who lived less than 15 minutes from the congressman’s home, was, as he put it, “brutalized in the most unbelievable way imaginable by those same people over in Iraq who expect us to treat those perpetrators of crimes in the prison with justice.”

Painesville pyramid

It took more than a decade to build, but the Pyramid of Remembrance has risen in Arlington National Cemetery — and U.S. taxpayers didn’t pay a dime.

Along with the rest of America in October 1993, a group of high school students in Painesville, Ohio, watched in horror as the lifeless body of a U.S. soldier was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia.

As recalled by Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, the students were concerned that there was no memorial in Washington to honor members of the armed forces whose lives were lost during such “peacekeeping” missions, as well as military casualties of humanitarian and covert operations, terrorist attacks, and training.

So, the students of Painesville not only proposed such a memorial, which was revealed this week, but also raised all the money for its construction, a good chunk of it donated by Painesville’s residents.

Courting Hispanics

Both major political parties anxiously await Hispanic voter projections for the 2004 presidential election, to be showcased next week in Washington by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Hispanics are the second-largest population group in the country, making up 5.4 percent of the total electorate in the 2000 presidential election. The association says they are poised to play a “critical role” in determining the next U.S. president.

The group, we’re told, will release a national projection, as well as Hispanic voting preferences in key states with significant populations of that community, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and New Mexico. Both parties continue to work overtime to attract the vote.

It’s no irony that the Hispanic governor of New Mexico, Clinton administration Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, is among the frequently named contenders to become the running mate of likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

President Bush, meanwhile, enjoys strong Hispanic support in his home state, Texas, as well as among Cuban Americans in Florida, where brother Jeb Bush is governor.

Frank race

It’s official: There will be a race in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District pitting incumbent Democratic Rep. Barney Frank against “conservative independent” Chuck Morse.

The Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Office certified this week that Mr. Morse has obtained the required number of signatures to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“All America will be watching this race because it pits the ultraliberal incumbent against a genuine conservative,” Mr. Morse tells us. “I’m running a campaign that showcases family values and the need for leadership that honors them.”

As for running as an independent, Mr. Morse says: “I fully expect that the friends I’ve made in Republican circles will retain interest in my candidacy, and as the campaign progresses unenrolled voters will support me in sufficient numbers to make this a very competitive election.”

Mr. Morse is the only challenger to Mr. Frank, who is serving his 12th term in Congress.

Whale of a job

“If we want to save the whales, we call the Democrats. If we want to save the world, we call the Republicans.”

Tom Adkins, founder of, when asked this week by Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto of “Cavuto on Business” whether Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld should stay or go.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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