- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Kerry’s dodges

“At this point, it comes as no surprise. John Kerry is releasing all his military records — but then again, he isn’t,” Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi writes.

“During an interview [Monday] with Globe editorial writers and columnists, the former Democratic presidential nominee was asked if [he] had signed Form SF 180, authorizing the Department of Defense to grant access to all his military records.” the columnist said.

“‘I have signed it,’ Kerry said. Then, he added that his staff was ‘still going through it’ and ‘very, very shortly, you will have a chance to see it.’

“The devil is usually in the details. With Kerry, it’s also in the dodges and digressions. After the interview, Kerry’s communications director, David Wade, was asked to clarify when Kerry signed SF 180 and when public access would be granted. Kerry drifted over to join the conversation, immediately raising the confusion level. He did not answer the question of when he signed the form or when the entire record will be made public.

“Several e-mails later, Wade conveyed the following information: On Friday, May 20, Kerry obtained a copy of Form 180 and signed it. ‘The next step is to send it to the Navy, which will happen in the next few days. The Navy will then send out the records,’ e-mailed Wade. Kerry first said he would sign Form 180 when pressed by Tim Russert during a Jan. 30 appearance on ‘Meet the Press.’

“Six months after Kerry’s loss to George W. Bush, it feels somewhat gratuitous to point out how hard it can be to get a clear, straight answer from Kerry on this and other matters. But as long as the Massachusetts senator is thinking about another presidential run, the candor gap remains on the table, because he puts it there.”

‘Admission of guilt’

“Conservatives have good reason to be unhappy with the agreement announced [Monday] night concerning the Senate’s judicial-confirmation process,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The agreement does not guarantee up-or-down votes on all of President Bush’s judicial nominees, nor does it restore the Senate’s unswerving 214-year tradition of majority vote for all judicial nominees. In addition, the agreement attempts to rewrite Article II of the Constitution, by giving the Senate an advise-and-consent role in the nomination, as well as the appointment, of judges,” Mr. Cornyn said.

“Our objectives are still within reach, however. As one of the signatories to the agreement made clear [Monday] night, the agreement does not foreclose the use of the Byrd option in the event that the filibuster continues to be abused. Moreover, conservatives should be proud of the principled manner in which they have conducted this debate.

“The other side’s position, by contrast, is an intellectual shambles. The agreement guarantees up-or-down votes to Justice Priscilla Owen, Justice Janice Rogers Brown, and Judge William Pryor — three well-qualified nominees who were once deplored as extreme and dangerous (as late as [Monday] afternoon). The agreement is thus an effective admission of guilt — an admission that these fine nominees should never have been filibustered in the first place.

“Moreover, by forbidding future filibusters of judicial nominations except under ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ the agreement establishes a new benchmark for future conduct in the United States Senate — namely, that other qualified judges who are firmly committed to the law, like Owen, Brown, and Pryor, deserve an up-or-down vote, too.”

Evidence allowed

The judge hearing a challenge to Washington state’s 2004 gubernatorial election agreed yesterday to let Republicans introduce evidence that Democratic-leaning King County recorded several hundred more votes than it could account for.

Republicans say errors and possible fraud in the county, which includes Seattle, helped Democrats steal the election for then-state Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who beat Republican Dino Rossi by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

“The evidence is overwhelming that there was unbelievable neglect in King County and, we believe, outright fraud by high-ranking King County officials,” Republican lawyer Dale Foreman said Monday.

Democrats had tried to block the Republican evidence, saying Republicans had brought up the issue too late and with no evidence to back up their claims, the Associated Press reports.

Chelan CountySuperior Court Judge John E. Bridges said yesterday he didn’t think the GOP claim was new. However, the judge added: “The court is not in a position at this time to determine that these are illegal votes.”

Shrinking deficit

“When politicians talk about the federal budget, they like to focus on ‘the deficit,’ or once in a great while, the surplus,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“This is a political disguise that lets them avoid discussing the components of the budget — spending and revenues — lest the voters react in horror and ask them to tax and spend less,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“So we thought our readers might like to know that so far this year federal tax revenues are booming. Overall, in the first seven months of Fiscal Year 2005 through April 30, they climbed by $146 billion to a total of $1.216 trillion. That’s an increase of 13.6 percent over a year earlier, some four or five times the inflation rate, and the kind of raise that most American families can only dream about. Income-tax receipts are driving this windfall, with individual revenues up $66 billion, or 16 percent, to $547 billion. Corporate income taxes are rolling in even faster, tsunami-like in fact, rising 48 percent to $134 billion.”

After noting that the Congressional Budget Office now concludes that the deficit for this year will fall to “the vicinity of $350 billion” from $412 billion last year, the newspaper said it is “amazing” that Republicans “are reluctant to make the 2003 tax cuts permanent,” considering the role lower taxes have played in boosting the economy.

Veto bait

President Bush has yet to veto a single piece of legislation. Consequently, Congress has not been fearful of running roughshod over the president’s wishes on its spending binge,” Brendan Miniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“But the one advantage of not uncapping his veto pen yet is that when Mr. Bush finally does get around to exercising this presidential power, it will really get the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill,” Mr. Miniter said.

“And now, as luck would have it, just as attention is shifting to big domestic issues, there are two bills that could draw the first veto,” Mr. Miniter said, citing the Senate version of the highway bill, which would spend billions more than its House counterpart and which Mr. Bush has said is unacceptable, and legislation that would overrule Mr. Bush’s limits on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

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

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