- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Democracy debate

Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that House Republicans now have become everything they used to rail against when they were in the minority for decades.

She and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, released a report detailing times Democrats were denied a chance to offer amendments, have an extended debate or even take part in conference committees to work out differences between House and Senate bills.

Mrs. Pelosi said even as President Bush is promoting democracy abroad, House Republicans are “working feverishly to undermine democracy here at home” by using the Rules Committee to restrict the rules for floor debates. Democrats have promoted their “minority bill of rights,” a set of procedures they say would make the House operate more fairly.

“I am not all that surprised by the minority leader’s comments today. It’s the same old song and dance,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois. “Are Republicans abusing the rules process to stifle debate in the House? To quote Nancy Pelosi, the answer is ‘no.’”

Mr. Hastert said of the 15 amendments that have been made during floor debate this year, 11 were sponsored by Democrats.

Sending a message

President Bush’s pick of a vocal U.N. critic to be the next U.S. ambassador to the world body was meant to send a message that change is needed there, the White House said yesterday.

Now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John R. Bolton was announced Monday as Mr. Bush’s choice for the post. He is likely to face a tough Senate confirmation hearing before Democrats, who argue that he has disdained the world body, and Republicans who are wary of him, the Associated Press reports.

But White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Mr. Bolton is the right man for the job at a time when the Bush administration is looking for reforms at the United Nations.

“The president believes that there is more that needs to be done to make sure that it is an organization that is effective and an organization that is fulfilling its mandate,” he said. “There are some areas where it can do much better.”

Atop that list, Mr. McClellan said, is making sure “that when resolutions are passed, that the Security Council means what it says.”

Democrats objected almost immediately. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Mr. Bolton’s “stated attitude toward the United Nations gives me great pause.”

Praising Wolfowitz

“Let us now praise Paul Wolfowitz,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“Let us now take another look at the man who has pursued — longer and more forcefully than almost anyone else — the supposedly utopian notion that people across the Muslim world might actually hunger for freedom,” Mr. Brooks said.

“Let us look again at the man who’s been vilified by Michael Moore and the rest of the infantile left, who’s been condescended to by the people who consider themselves foreign-policy grown-ups, and who has become the focus of much anti-Semitism in the world today — the center of a zillion Zionist conspiracy theories, and a hundred zillion clever-Jew-behind-the-scenes calumnies. …

“If the trends of the last few months continue, Wolfowitz will be the subject of fascinating biographies decades from now, while many of his smuggest critics will be forgotten.”

Battling Arnold

A liberal grass-roots network that helped fuel Howard Dean’s run for president is crackling back to life to fight California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ballot-initiative drive, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

California for Democracy, the state arm of a national group that raised millions of dollars for Mr. Dean over the Internet, is planning a high-tech campaign targeting the Republican governor.

The group’s re-emergence came as a committee closely aligned with Mr. Schwarzenegger began running TV advertisements Monday urging voters to seek signature-gatherers and sign up.

But volunteers from California for Democracy hope to frustrate those efforts. They plan to use the Web and mobile technology to keep roughly 9,000 supporters abreast of the whereabouts of signature-gatherers for Schwarzenegger ballot initiatives. Organizers say volunteers then will head to those locations to distribute the group’s leaflets denouncing the planned special election, which opponents say will cost as much as $70 million.

Still in denial

Dan Rather is going out denying any liberal bias and with a CBS News bio segment dismissing any such contention,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“In a Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer profile, Rather attributed the liberal-bias charge to how he’s ‘a passionate’ and ‘aggressively independent reporter’ and ‘when you handle hot material, you’re going to catch flak.’

“In a CBS ‘Sunday Morning’ review of Rather’s career, Lee Cowan declared that as for the liberal label applied to Rather: ‘Those who know him best say Dan never played just one side of the fence.’ Cowan also ridiculously praised Rather for taking ‘responsibility’ for memogate.”

Terri’s law’

The fight over the life of Terri Schiavo has found its way to Capitol Hill, with two Florida Republicans introducing bills that would protect the brain-damaged woman, Cox News Service reports.

Sen. Mel Martinez filed a bill late Monday that would extend federal habeas corpus rights to incapacitated patients in cases, such as Mrs. Schiavo’s, where there is dispute over patient wishes and state courts have ordered the removal of medical care, food and water.

Rep. Dave Weldon, a practicing physician, filed the same bill in the House yesterday.

Those habeas rights would let a federal court review whether state courts had followed proper “due process” procedures. A state circuit judge ruled Feb. 26 that Michael Schiavo can order the removal of his wife’s feeding tube March 18.

The bill, to be known as “Terri’s Law,” won the immediate backing of the National Right to Life Committee, which urged its supporters to contact members of Congress.

Teresa’s suspicions

Teresa Heinz Kerry is openly skeptical about results from November’s election, especially in places where optical scanners were used to record votes, Matt Drudge reports at www.drudgereport.com, citing remarks in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“Two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States,” Mrs. Kerry told the newspaper. She identified both as “hard-right” Republicans. She argued that it is “very easy to hack into the mother machines.”

Mrs. Kerry did not offer any specific evidence that votes on the machines were altered.

“We in the United States are not a banana republic,” Mrs. Kerry said during a fund-raiser in Seattle, adding: “I fear for ‘06.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] Washington times.com

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