- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2005

Shunning Hillary

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she looks forward to working with newly crowned Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, starting with voting reform.

As people in Iraq and Ukraine “celebrate elections and voter participation,” says the former first lady, “we must make sure every vote is counted in elections right here at home.”

Which brings us to the Count Every Vote Act of 2005, which Mrs. Clinton is introducing this week with California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. If it is passed, the legislation would provide a verified paper ballot for every electronic vote cast and require the Election Assistance Commission to ensure uniform access to voting machines.

“It’s outrageous that some people in predominantly minority communities had to wait up to 10 hours to vote [in 2004], while people in other communities often voted in minutes,” Mrs. Clinton says.

If her act sounds familiar, it is because she introduced similar legislation last year, but acknowledges that “it never saw the light of day.”

“I couldn’t even get a hearing for my bill before the Senate Rules Committee,” she complains.

Here we go again

That was Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, complaining yesterday about Sunday night’s Grammy Awards.

Not so much about the music, rather that American taxpayers — to the tune of $150,000 — are funding “millionaire singers, producers and executives.”

An earmark of $150,000 is contained in the 2005 omnibus appropriations bill for the Grammy Foundation, the music-appreciation wing of the Recording Academy that distributes the annual awards.

“A song by the name of ‘Here We Go Again’ won the Grammy for Record of the Year last night,” notes Mr. Flake. “After finding out today that Congress kicked in $150,000 … I’m thinking the same thing.”

Free and freedom

With the backing of conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly, Janine Hansen, as national chairman, yesterday launched Mothers Against The Draft.

“We want to be sure to head off any effort to draft our sons and daughters,” she explains. “Those who choose to serve in the military should have our respect. But we feel in this land of the free and the home of the brave that those who may be drafted and forced to fight for freedom are not free.”

The coming weeks, she says, will be spent surveying senators and congressmen on where they stand on a compulsory military draft and mandatory national service.

Honoring Drath

The Dacor Bacon House, the club of retired diplomatic and consular officers in Washington, was the setting to serenade, play harmonica and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to veteran journalist and author Viola Herms Drath.

A special greeting from President Bush and first lady Laura Bush also was read to Mrs. Drath, one of the first prominent writers to issue specific proposals, guidelines and negotiations on the reunification of East and West Germany. As a foreign-policy adviser to former President George Bush before and after his election, she received praise from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when German reunification occurred in 1990.

“You have earned the respect of so many [on] both sides of the Atlantic for your role in building bridges of understanding and in strengthening the German-American relationship,” German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger noted in his birthday greetings.

At her party, symphonic compositions from Mrs. Drath’s native Germany were played by the “President’s Own” band, an Air Force officer serenaded her with German folk songs, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Edward L. Rowny — former commander of the 24th Infantry Division in Augsburg, Germany, who was deputy chief of staff at the U.S. European Command during the 1960s — regaled the affair with “old war stories” and a boffo performance of melodies on his harmonica.

He played a stirring rendition of “Lilli Marlene,” a popular song in Germany during World War II, when Mrs. Drath was a teenage refugee in Munich escaping the advance of the Soviet armies.

Proud people

What is it about possessing Texas roots?

President Bush is always talking about his. Alberto Gonzales, sworn in as the nation’s 80th attorney general, always talks about his. And yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, administering the oath to Mr. Gonzales as Mr. Bush looked on, spoke about hers. Must be a Texas thing.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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