- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

Kerry lashes out

Sen. John Kerry, in a speech yesterday, charged widespread disenfranchisement of Democratic voters in the 2004 presidential election.

The Massachusetts Democrat, President Bush’s challenger in November, spoke at Boston’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast, where he charged that “thousands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote.”

“Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans [went] through in 10 minutes — same voting machines, same process, our America,” he said.

Mr. Kerry also compared the democracy-building efforts in Iraq with voting in the United States, saying that Americans had their names purged from voting lists and were kept from casting ballots.

“In a nation which is willing to spend several hundred million dollars in Iraq to bring them democracy, we cannot tolerate that too many people here in America were denied that democracy,” he said.

Sore losers

Some Democrats, sullen over their defeat in the presidential election, have argued that inauguration festivities should be canceled, unless the war and worldwide weather patterns improve markedly by Thursday. But Barbara Pleskow of Weston, Conn., may have set a new standard for sore losers with her letter published in the New York Times yesterday.

“A truly wonderful way for Laura Bush to go down in history for all time would be as the first lady who wore a ‘used’ dress for the inaugural ball, thus paying honor to the young people who are dying in her husband’s misbegotten war,” she pontificated.

Pentagon vs. Hersh

The Pentagon yesterday criticized a magazine article that said the United States was mounting reconnaissance missions inside Iran to identify potential nuclear and other targets.

“The Iranian regime’s apparent nuclear ambitions and its demonstrated support for terrorist organizations is a global challenge that deserves much more serious treatment than Seymour Hersh provides in the New Yorker article titled ‘The Coming Wars,’” said the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Lawrence DiRita.

Mr. Hersh’s article, published Sunday, was “so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed,” Mr. DiRita said.

Mr. Hersh reported that President Bush had signed a series of top-secret findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces military units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

Mr. DiRita did not comment on that assertion, Reuters news agency reports.

Instead, he said, Mr. Hersh’s sources fed him “rumor, innuendo and assertions about meetings that never happened, programs that do not exist and statements by officials that were never made.”

Asked whether U.S. military forces had been conducting reconnaissance missions in Iran, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Venable said, “We don’t discuss missions, capabilities or activities of special-operations forces.”

Warning to senators

The national director of Priests for Life yesterday warned Senate Democrats against anti-Catholic bias in the treatment of judicial nominees.

“Senate Democrats have made history in their obstruction of this constitutional process, simply because some of them find the religious and ethical beliefs of some of the president’s nominees unacceptable,” the Rev. Frank Pavone said.

“What matters more, however, is that so many Americans find this Democratic obstructionism unacceptable. We intend to monitor closely the behavior of Senate Democrats in this regard, and will make it an election issue in 2006. We will inform every Catholic priest in America of the details of the obstruction, especially when it involves anti-Catholic bias,” he said.

“Moreover, we call upon Senate Republicans to carry forward whatever action is necessary to restore the proper traditions of the Senate so that it may carry out its constitutional duties free of ideological captivity.”

Brother conservative

Kent Williams, brother of black conservative pundit Armstrong Williams, took office last week as a Democratic state senator in South Carolina.

Kent Williams was elected in November. Earlier, he defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Glover in a runoff primary.

“When the Palmetto Family Council rejoices and Republicans verbally applaud the election of a Democrat to the state Senate, you know something seismic has taken place,” Greenville News columnist Dan Hoover wrote this week.

Mr. Williams won in a heavily Democratic, majority-black district.

“He’s not just another Democratic senator,” the columnist said.

In fact, Mr. Williams, 44, is a staunch conservative and well-known among groups usually aligned with the GOP, he said.

Back to normal

“On ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Brit Hume marveled at how the first ‘Face the Nation’ after the CBS panel’s report documented the network’s hostility to President Bush devoted the entire show to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who made a speech earlier in the week railing against Bush policies,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Hume noted that the White House offered Communications Director Dan Bartlett and CBS said, ‘thank you, no’ — peculiar behavior for people who were only recently saying they wanted to make a, quote, ‘fresh start’ with the White House.”

[Bob] Schieffer and co-panelist Dan Balz, a Washington Post reporter, tossed a series of softballs to Kennedy, prompting him for his ‘reaction’ to Bush’s claims. Balz echoed Senate Democrats: ‘Given the legal advice that Alberto Gonzales provided that led to some of these [prisoner abuse] scandals, are you going to vote to confirm him or will you oppose him to be the next attorney general?’”

Kerry and Chirac

John Kerry met with France’s President Jacques Chirac last Friday, part of the senator’s fact-finding mission to Europe and the Middle East,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Details of their talk weren’t revealed, but there is little doubt both men felt a sense of disappointment that Mr. Kerry hadn’t won November’s election. As a French official loved to point out to me last year, the French government was looking forward to a president with French relatives addressing the French Parliament in French,” Mr. Fund said.

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

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