- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

Ship snubbed

The USS Iowa joined in battles from World War II to Korea to the Persian Gulf. It carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt home from the Tehran conference of Allied leaders, and, four decades later, suffered one of the nation’s most deadly military accidents.

Veterans groups and history buffs had hoped that tourists in San Francisco could walk the same teak decks where sailors endured Japanese machine-gun fire and fired 16-inch guns that helped win battles across the South Pacific, the Associated Press reports.

Instead, it appears that the retired battleship is headed about 80 miles inland, to Stockton, a gritty agricultural port town on the San Joaquin River and home of California’s annual asparagus festival.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, a former San Francisco mayor, helped secure $3 million to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island to the Bay Area in 2001 in hopes of making touristy Fisherman’s Wharf its new home.

But city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military’s stance on homosexuals, among other things.

“If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now,” Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

Mrs. Feinstein called it a “very petty decision.”

“This isn’t the San Francisco that I’ve known and loved and grew up in and was born in,” she said.

Lott and Frist

When Sen. Trent Lott decides which Republican presidential candidate to support in 2008, apparently it will not be Sen. Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican who Mr. Lott says betrayed him at a low moment in his political career.

Asked yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether Mr. Frist, who challenged and succeeded Mr. Lott as Senate majority leader in 2002, has the character to be president, Mr. Lott paused before answering.

“I think I’d have to think about that,” said Mr Lott, Mississippi Republican.

Mr. Lott said “a lot of good people out there” are thinking about whether to run and that “I probably would lean toward some of the others, let me just put it that way.”

In a new book, “Herding Cats, A Lifetime in Politics,” Mr. Lott fingers Mr. Frist as one of the “main manipulators” in the events that led to Mr. Lott’s fall from power.

Media moms

When I returned recently from two weeks away, which included two weeks away from television, meaning two weeks away from 21st-century reality, I surfed into a cable station in search of news and discovered a ‘Live’ report, which said they were draining a lake in Aruba,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“I am embarrassed to admit that I thought the Aruba murder story had faded. The embarrassment is that I’d underestimated the staying power of Media Mom Beth Holloway Twitty, mother of Natalee, who disappeared in Aruba on May 30 and is almost certainly dead,” Mr. Henninger said.

“This summer we have two Media Moms who came to dinner — the Aruba Mom and Cindy Sheehan, the Iraq War Mom. If you watch cable news in the evening, you are sharing it nightly with Cindy and Beth. The big difference between the two is that half the country doesn’t hate Beth Twitty yet.”

Mr. Henninger added: “Losing a son in war and simultaneously losing perhaps half the nation’s sympathy is quite an accomplishment, but that’s the way it works now. Modern media has become an either/or, for-or-against world. They create Media Moms because Moms are sympathetic figures. But ultimately the audience in the new electronic Colosseum — a video-game experience for couch potatoes — turns thumbs up or down on most of these Moms.

“After a few weeks, people were either rooting for Terri Schiavo’s desperate Mom or saying she should shut up and go away. How edifying.

“Now we’ve got Cindy Sheehan, Media Mom superstar. She’s using her center-ring moment to divide an entire country over a war (fought by volunteers), to get the blood boiling and people into the streets, again.”

Bork’s view

“The nomination of John Roberts brings up the recurrent and crucial question of who is to govern America and, therefore, what is to be the course of our culture and morality,” former Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork writes in National Review.

“It is hardly surprising, then, that the power seekers of the left-wing wolf pack are on the prowl, attacking Judge Roberts with their customary mendacity,” Mr. Bork said.

“‘With every passing day, it is becoming clearer that John Roberts is one of the key lieutenants in the right-wing assault on civil-rights laws and precedents,’ proclaims Ralph Neas, the far-left ideologue who heads People for the American Way.

“Not to be outdone, Sen. Ted Kennedy asserts that in doubting that Congress’ power over interstate commerce extends to preservation of the arroyo southwestern toad — a homebody that never moves out of California and is not engaged in commerce — Roberts is somehow endangering Social Security, Medicare, civil rights, and, for all we know, the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation. Listening to the absurd Kennedy and Neas accusations brings to mind an old Irish ballad: ‘Johnny, we hardly knew ye.’

“It’s true that, such blatant nonsense aside, there has been some doubt even among supporters of the nomination about how John Roberts will vote on crucial constitutional issues. The mists began to dissipate somewhat, though by no means completely, with Judge Roberts’ written answers to a questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“He disparaged legal activism, saying that the judge’s role, ‘while important, is limited’ and does not extend to ‘areas of policy-making reserved by the Constitution to the political branches.’ Judges ‘do not have a commission to solve society’s problems, as they see them, but simply to decide cases before them according to the rule of law.’”

State of upheaval’

“If you needed any more proof that Democratic politics were in a profound state of upheaval, consider this: On the eve of the 2004 election, there were three especially powerful groups, aside from the Kerry campaign itself, working to turn out votes for the party in critical states, and those were the Democratic National Committee, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and a lavishly endowed start-up known as America Coming Together,” Matt Bai writes in the New York Times Magazine.

“Nine months later, not one of these institutions has emerged entirely intact. First, Howard Dean staged a hostile takeover of the DNC. Then big labor unraveled on its 50th birthday. And finally, earlier this month, ACT announced that it was suspending most of its operations and closing down its state offices, effectively shuttering the largest independently financed turnout drive in history after a single outing.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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