- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

Not blue enough?

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who has caused a firestorm of protest for comparing treatment of U.S. detainees to actions by “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others,” will be marched out by the Democratic National Committee tomorrow evening to appear alongside DNC Chairman Howard Dean at a “Paint the Nation Blue” fundraising event.

Meanwhile, retired Navy Cmdr. Paul E. Galanti, a former prisoner of war, says he has been inundated with correspondence after firing off a letter to Mr. Durbin that, in turn, got posted on bulletin boards from West Point to the Pentagon.

“I just got mad,” Cmdr. Galanti said in a telephone interview yesterday. “If [Mr. Durbin] wanted to state his case, he should have called [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld. Instead, he decided to make political hay, hitting the [U.S. military] when they’re down.”

The retired Navy commander wrote to the senator: “As one who was held in a North Vietnamese prison for nearly seven years and whose definition of torture and bad treatment is somewhat at variance with yours, I deplore your senseless comments about alleged ‘barbaric treatment’ at our terrorist-detention facility at Guantanamo.

“Your remarks comparing Guantanamo to the regimes of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot are outrageous. I tried to think of why a rational human being could make such an outlandish statement, but I keep coming up short,” Cmdr. Galanti wrote, adding “your moment of pique will be infinitely more damaging to members of our Armed Forces serving in harm’s way.”

He also drew Mr. Durbin’s attention to “al Jazeera’s joy at your comments.”

“You, sir, for having aided and abetted the enemy in time of war, have been relegated in my mind to the status of Jane Fonda and your colleague, John Kerry, as contemptible traitors.”

Back to tomorrow evening’s “Paint the Nation Blue” event, Andrew Wright, a DNC finance director, says Mr. Dean and Mr. Durbin will “reach out to all Americans with our positive agenda for the future, and we will stand and fight the propaganda and destructive policies of the Republican Party.”

The event will be held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on New York Avenue NW at 7 p.m.

Strange encounter

Doing a double take in an elevator in Hershey, Pa., in recent days was Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the Polling Co., who came face to face with Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

After all, the Hotel Hershey was the venue for a nationwide convention of Republican women, and Mrs. Conway and Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania were all there as speakers.

As for Mr. Kerry’s unlikely presence?

“Maybe they can learn a thing or two,” the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee quipped to Mrs. Conway.

Truth be told, Mr. Kerry and other Democrats from Capitol Hill were attending their own event at the plush landmark, which features a chocolate-themed spa.

Before they parted company, Mrs. Conway told Mr. Kerry that they were in agreement on at least one political issue: Neither wants Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Mr. Kerry smiled.

Office visits

A proposed .xxx domain for Internet pornography Web sites won’t stop the porn industry from flooding “our homes, libraries and society” with smut, warns Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

“Some naively suggest that passing a new law to force pornographers to move to .xxx will solve the problem, but that will not work, either. Law means nothing to hard-core pornographers,” says Mr. Perkins, who instead backs a law-enforcement approach announced by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

“He intends to smash these criminal enterprises on the Internet and elsewhere with a new obscenity strike force,” he notes. “This is the only way to handle hard-core pornographers.”

The Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet’s development body, has indicated that it will establish an .xxx domain for porn Web sites. But critics say there is no guarantee that pornographers on the .com domain will relocate to the new domain.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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