- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

Paranoid Soros

George Soros, the billionaire who wasted tens of millions of dollars trying to defeat President Bush last year, fears that the administration will take its revenge, according to New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

“Unknown to practically everyone except windy Cindy is that Mr. Soros is quietly divesting himself, even as we speak, of anything in his private equity group that contains Third Party money,” Mrs. Adams wrote in her column yesterday.

“To circumvent what he frets could be the Bush Cabinet, aka The Grim Reapers, coming after him in terms of SEC, FTC, IRS or any other initials, all’s being sold off or spun away from him. Even shucking some stuff he personally owns outright.

“However, whatever’s retained will be whatever has him as its sole investor with his own money, of which he has approximately $16 billion, give or take an IRA. All will be placed into some newly defined entity.”

Mending fences

CBS News President Andrew Heyward, along with Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, recently met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration, Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports at www.broadcastingcable.com.

CBS News’ popularity at the White House — never high to begin with — plunged further in the wake of Dan Rather’s discredited “60 Minutes” story on President Bush’s National Guard service, Broadcasting & Cable said.

An incentive for making nice is the impending report from the two-member panel investigating CBS’ use of now-infamous documents for the “60 Minutes” piece.

Mr. Heyward was “working overtime to convince Bartlett that neither CBS News nor Rather had a vendetta against the White House,” an anonymous source told the magazine, “and from here on out would do everything it could to be fair and balanced.”

CBS declined to comment.

Forgotten maverick

“Everyone in Washington is swooning over Illinois’ new Democratic senator, Barack Obama. He hadn’t even been sworn in when he made the cover of Newsweek,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Mr. Obama may indeed be destined for political stardom, but before Obama fever fully takes hold, it’s worth noting how little national attention has been given to the senator he’s replacing: Peter Fitzgerald.

“The 44-year-old maverick Republican is choosing to retire after one term in part because his brave crusade against political cronyism had so alienated key figures in his own party that the GOP state committee actually declined to endorse him for re-election,” Mr. Fund said.

“The U.S. Senate would not function with 100 members such as Peter Fitzgerald, who is both self-righteous and a political loner. But it needs some members like him and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, another senator who sometimes bucks conventional political wisdom.”

Mr. Fund added: “Despite all his crusading [against pork-barrel spending and political croynism and corruption], Mr. Fitzgerald never won the kind of respect the national news media showered on his fellow maverick John McCain. He was a frequent ally of Mr. McCain, who called him ‘a stalwart in the fight for good government,’ but he lacked the senator’s media skill. ‘Liberal reporters saw me as a conservative with some quirky stands, while conservative columnists couldn’t understand my support for prescription- drug benefits and blocking oil exploration in Alaska,’ he told me.”

Partisan ‘study’

“California Rep. Henry Waxman’s report last month on abstinence-only programs, in which his researchers found some curriculum errors, gave him an opportunity to (again) slam alleged weaknesses in President Bush’s sex-education policy. Some in the mainstream media willingly played along,” Paul Chesser writes at the Weekly Standard Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

“Had journalists applied careful scrutiny to the source of the study, and some of the flawed assumptions in the study itself, they would have discovered the liberal Waxman’s record of relentless partisanship on the issue over the last four years,” said Mr. Chesser, an associate editor for the John Locke Foundation.

“Yes, Waxman’s workers discovered errors in some abstinence-only sex education textbooks. For example, one curriculum stated that 24 chromosomes each from the mother and father create a new human being. (The correct number is 23 for each.) Another curriculum falsely claimed that HIV can be spread among humans through sweat and tears, which is nearly impossible.

“But abstinence education texts are hardly the only student sources rife with mistakes. Was Waxman equally indignant about the science book that identified singer LindaRonstadt as a silicon crystal? Or the one that said the equator passes through the southern United States?

“Meanwhile, the real story ought to be how Waxman has used his ranking minority position on the House Government Reform Committee as his personal whipcord against the Bush administration backside.

“Check the history. Waxman assumed his current role on the Reform Committee in 1997, at the beginning of President Clinton’s second term, two years after Republicans won control of the House. For those first four years, Waxman determined that, during one of the most corrupt administrations in history, government reform should be restricted to concerns about tobacco industry ethics, guns, air pollution and pharmaceutical companies. He issued 23 reports, investigations, announcements or studies during Clinton’s last four years. None were critical of the then-president’s policies or behavior.

“But when January 2001 came, Waxman’s almost-dormant inquisition machine powered to life. The House Reform Committee Minority Office generated more than 23 findings within the first six months of that year, with a revived interest in government, and less interests in liberal scapegoats like big tobacco.”

Rejected ballots

Nearly two-thirds of the provisional ballots cast in Florida on Election Day were not counted, mostly because the voters were not registered, officials said yesterday.

County elections officials said 27,742 provisional ballots were cast and 9,915 were counted, but 17,827 were rejected. The numbers may be revised, but are not expected to change dramatically, the Associated Press reports.

“The majority of the ones that were rejected were because the people were not registered to vote,” said Jenny Nash, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State.

Provisional ballots are used when poll workers cannot immediately confirm if a voter is properly registered.

According to an analysis by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper, slightly more than 7 percent of the provisional ballots were tossed because voters had been purged from the rolls. They were dropped because they had not voted in several years or were found to be ex-felons, the paper reported.

President Bush defeated Democrat Sen. John Kerry in Florida by more than 380,000 votes, or five percentage points.

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

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