- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

Supreme sweepstakes

President Bush’s chief justice nominee, Judge John G. Roberts Jr., may seem “bulletproof” for now, but the second vacant chair on the court will whet appetites of contentious Democrats, John Hinderaker said yesterday in the Daily Standard.

“They can let Roberts go through with only token opposition, knowing that the philosophical composition of the Court will not change significantly, and concentrate their fire on Bush’s second nominee, who will fill the critical seat being vacated by Justice Sandra O’Connor,” Mr. Hinderaker predicted.

Finding a nominee who is “as solidly conservative and as non-controversial” as Mr. Roberts may not be easy. While Judge Michael Luttig of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a “philosophical twin,” he has “authored any number of opinions that could serve as grist for the liberal mill,” Mr. Hinderaker wrote.

Michael McConnell is lauded as a leading authority on religion and the Constitution, managing an appointment to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court without a Democratic filibuster — but he is a law professor and has written much — including a 1998 Wall Street Journal article titled “Roe v. Wade at 25: Still Illegitimate.”

“Liberals won’t have to look far for ammunition,” Mr. Hinderaker noted.

“President Bush faces a choice: he can either nominate another conservative and trigger the most bitter confirmation battle since Robert Bork, or he can bow to pressure from the Democrats and the media and appoint a moderate, thereby forgoing, perhaps forever, his opportunity to move the Court in a conservative direction.”

MoveOn moves on

MoveOn.org apparently has backed off a plan to air a TV commercial using Hurricane Katrina to attack Judge John G. Roberts Jr.

USA Today ran a story yesterday quoting an official from the left-leaning group claiming that stark images from Katrina showing disparity between rich and poor highlighted the issues at stake before the Supreme Court.

Well, not really.

“USA Today ran an inaccurate headline in this morning’s paper saying that we plan to produce a TV ad that uses the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to criticize Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts,” the group’s director, Eli Pariser, said yesterday. “We have no plans, and have never had plans, to produce such an ad.”

Sensing a face-off with the highest-circulation paper in the country, he said, “We regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen because of anything that our staff member might have told USA Today’s reporter. We continue to have the highest regard for that reporter’s integrity.”

Doing the math

In a speech yesterday to the labor union-backed Alliance of Retired Americans, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, said Hurricane Katrina has taught us the perils of private retirement accounts.

She asked her audience to picture a future of individual Social Security accounts — then the nation suffers a similar disaster, Congressional Quarterly reported.

“People would say, ‘What am I going to do? Can I count on Social Security?’ ” Mrs. Clinton said. “And the answer would be, well, we’ll have to check on the stock market.” The crack tickled the group, which opposes President Bush’s plan to incorporate private accounts into the retirement system.

Taking Mrs. Clinton’s advice, we checked the stock market: Dow Jones Industrial Average on Aug. 24, three days before the storm hit: around 10,450; Dow Jones Industrial Average yesterday: 10,600.

Looks like even disaster victims would do better playing the stock market than waiting for a check from the government, which hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory for a job it is supposed to do well — disaster relief.

9-11 unsullied

At the four-year anniversary of September 11, five Hollywood movies — including one by Oliver Stone — are in the works, dramatizing the terrorist attacks. But one Maryland-based filmmaker is adamant that the pivotal event remain in perspective.

“I’m tired of victimhood and hand-wringing over September 11th,” said Russ Hodge, whose attitude is reflected in “For the Love of Their Brother,” a straightforward account of one New York family who memorialized the death of their brother at the World Trade Center by organizing a public charity run.

It retraces the route firefighter and father of five Stephen Siller took when he ran back into the city — laden with 75 pounds of equipment — after the towers were attacked. He had just returned home to Staten Island from his shift.

The fourth annual “Tunnel to Towers” run takes place Sept. 25. It will be attended by, among others, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Guiliani and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. The 30-minute program will air nationwide on public television stations, including WHUT in the Washington, this Sunday.

Tancredo’s credo

Rep. Tom Tancredo is snarling at Louisiana muck-a-mucks. The Colorado Republican has asked House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, to withhold federal disaster aid to the hurricane-torn area.

“Given the abysmal failure of state and local officials in Louisiana to plan adequately for or respond to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans, and given the long history of public corruption in Louisiana, I hope the House will refrain from directly appropriating any funds to either the state of Louisiana or the city of New Orleans,” Mr. Tancredo wrote in a letter to Mr. Hastert, as reported yesterday by the Rocky Mountain News.

He also said that two Democrats — New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco — are guilty of “mind-boggling incompetence.”

One Louisiana Democrat is not impressed. “Louisiana will rebuild with or without Mr. Tancredo’s help,” suggested Brian Richardson, spokesman for Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

Err America

The New York City Department of Investigation announced yesterday that Air America, the progressive talk- radio network, has made a full reimbursement of $875,000 to a charity from which it borrowed the money last year.

Both the agency and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer are probing loans made by the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club to the network, deeming them “inappropriate transactions,” given that Gloria Wise is supposed to finance programs for needy children and senior citizens.

What’s more, Evan M. Cohen, who headed the network when the loans were made, simultaneously held a $74,000 job with Gloria Wise.

Meanwhile, Piquant LLC, owners of Air America, argued that it did not have to repay the loans because they were obtained by Mr. Cohen, who is no longer with the network. Nevertheless, officials agreed to repay the loan. That has been done, New York officials said in their statement.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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