- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

A hero’s welcome

“Want proof that loyalty and friendship mean more than politics in the Bush administration? Then go no further than Vice President Dick Cheney’s Christmas party last week, where ex-aide Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, ousted after his indictment in the CIA spy-outing case, was given a hero’s welcome,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“‘He was warmly received, and he looked terrific,’ says a partygoer. ‘Everyone was happy to see him.’ Libby arrived with his wife and sans attorney and went through the photo line just like everybody else. And while he shunned talk about his case, ‘everyone wished him well,’ says our tipster.”

Mob rule

“Momentum continues to build for a noisy showdown over racial preferences in Michigan,” Detroit News columnist Thomas Bray writes.

“Just how ugly the issue could become was starkly demonstrated last week in Lansing, the state capital. The state’s Board of Canvassers, a four-person body split by law between Democrats and Republicans, was meeting to decide whether to certify for the 2006 ballot a referendum that would ban the use of race in state hiring and admissions policies,” Mr. Bray said.

“But no sooner had the meeting started than a mob of mostly black students from Detroit schools, led by a radical national outfit calling itself By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), stormed the building, overturning tables, jumping on chairs, stomping their feet and yelling ‘They say Jim Crow; We say hell, no.’When a black Democratic member of the board dared to suggest that he might have no choice under the law but to approve the measure — as a Michigan Court of Appeals panel has twice ordered — he was shouted down: ‘Be a black man!’

“Cowed by this show of force, the board once again failed to muster the three votes to let the ballot go forward. In the end, few observers doubt the courts will approve the measure.”

Mr. Bray added, “Had a mob of student conservatives invaded a meeting of state officials, it would have been denounced as fascist. The fascism of the left tends to be excused, even by those who know better, as a case of overwrought idealism. But voters may not be so easily fooled.”

Rapping Sununu

“If New Hampshire Republican Senator John Sununu wants to endanger our national security, shouldn’t he at least know what he’s talking about?” National Review says in an editorial at www.nationalreview.com.

“Apparently that’s too much to ask of the usually admirable senator, who is helping filibuster the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Even former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno has endorsed the Patriot Act; it is the single most important piece of counterterrorism legislation passed post-9/11. If the status quo holds after Friday’s failure to invoke cloture — Republicans got only 52 votes, when they need 60 — the 16 provisions of the law that were sun-setted and that are the most important will lapse at the end of the year,” the magazine said.

“Sununu’s criticism of the reauthorization, set out in a [Manchester] Union Leader op-ed earlier this [past] week, are wrongheaded and empty.

“Sununu says the Patriot Act is at odds with our country’s convictions that ‘evidence must be shown to obtain a search warrant; we have a right to face an accuser; and when wrongly prosecuted, we can appeal our case to court.’ Not true. The Patriot Act does nothing to change those assumptions of our legal system. The government cannot get a search warrant without showing a judge probable cause either that a crime has been committed or that the subject of the warrant is an agent of a foreign power (such as a terrorist organization).

“When people are accused or wrongfully convicted, they fully maintain their rights to confrontation and appeal; but those rights come into play only after a person has been formally accused. They have always been irrelevant while the government is conducting an investigation, even of an ordinary crime. Why should things be any different in the case of a threat to national security, which is what the Patriot Act covers?

“Sununu then hones in on the favorite targets of Patriot opponents: Section 215, the so-called ‘library records’ provision, which actually doesn’t mention libraries and allows the government access to a wide variety of business records and other evidence; and national-security letters (NSLs), which allow the FBI to compel information — ‘without the approval of a judge,’ Sununu darkly observes.

“He neglects to note that federal prosecutors have for decades been fully empowered, in investigations of run-of-the-mill crimes like gambling and minor frauds, to issue grand-jury subpoenas, which can compel all the same evidence with absolutely no court supervision. There was no widespread abuse of these tactics prior to Patriot, just as there is no record of their being abused in the four years since Patriot sensibly extended them to national-security investigations.”

The magazine added, “On the basis of these misunderstandings, Sununu stands with Democrats blocking an up-or-down vote on the reauthorization. If Sununu and his Republican colleagues Larry Craig, Lisa Murkowski and Chuck Hagel weren’t giving Democrats cover, the Democrats probably wouldn’t be able to maintain their near-unanimity on this politically perilous vote. What a shame.”

Unlikely donors

Georgia Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor received a letter with an unusual fundraising request: Gov. Sonny Perdue needed Mark Taylor’s help to defeat Mark Taylor.

Mr. Perdue’s re-election campaign sent Mr. Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox — his Democratic opponents in next year’s election — letters at their state Capitol offices asking for campaign donations, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Taylor also received a letter at his Atlanta home. The signed note from the Republican governor ends, “Mark, your personal support will mean the world to Mary and me. From the Perdue family to your family, best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season.”

Nick Ayers, who runs the governor’s re-election campaign, said the direct mailing firm the campaign uses sent fundraising letters to some Georgians who have given to Democrats in the past, which is likely how the two Democratic politicians were on the mailing list.

Mr. Perdue and his opponents are scrambling to raise money for the election campaign before the Jan. 9 start of the legislative session, when elected officials are barred from accepting campaign contributions.

Criminalizing speech?

The Free Enterprise Fund says Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle “has declared war on the First Amendment” by seeking to subpoena the organization over its TV ad that accused him of playing partisan politics by going after Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

“Not satisfied with trying to criminalize politics, he is now trying to criminalize political free speech, interfere with legitimate political association, and also undermine the constitutional right of people to engage in private, voluntary activity,” the organization said.

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

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