- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2006

No time to write

One would gather that Rep. John Conyers Jr. doesn’t trust President Bush’s judgment when it comes to pardoning people, particularly those who toiled in his White House.

The Michigan Democrat is pushing newly introduced legislation that would require the president to notify Congress upon the pardon of “any Executive Branch employee.”

Mr. Conyers explained: “This notification is necessary because it is possible that the president could pardon an employee of his administration as a means of preventing an investigation from running its course and, perhaps, uncovering information critical of the administration.”

Any case come to mind?

“The need for this legislation came to light as a result of the Justice Department’s investigation into an administration official’s leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity,” Mr. Conyers stated when introducing the legislation.

“The indictment of I. Lewis Libby, who was the vice president’s chief of staff, for false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation raised concerns that the president might use his authority to pardon Mr. Libby or other officials involved in serious criminal offenses.”

Mr. Conyers says he is most concerned because Mr. Bush has yet to respond to the letter he sent to him more than a year ago, July 25, 2005, “seeking his assurance that he would not pardon any former or current officials involved in the leak” of Mrs. Plame’s name.

Clowning around

Whether he deserves such depths or not, Virginia Sen. George Allen remains knee-deep in “macaca.”

Everybody from Washington to Ahmadabad has heard by now that Mr. Allen recently resorted to the term “macaca” when drawing attention to one of his Democratic opponent’s dark-skinned campaign workers, who was videotaping the Republican’s campaign remarks.

“Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia,” were Mr. Allen’s exact words — not derogatory, he insists to critics who label them racially offensive.

Of all the related mail this column received (and there was a ton), perhaps the most revealing comes from Joseph Luchi, a translator who lives in New York City.

“As someone fluent in Italian and of Italian descent, I have used this word quite often,” Mr. Luchi writes. “My mom used this word about myself and my sister many times. It means ‘fool, clown, dummy.’

“My understanding is that Sen. Allen’s mom is not French Tunisian, but of Italian heritage born in Tunisia. Many thousands of Italians lived in Tunisia before World War II before they left or were expelled. Sen. Allen’s mom speaks several languages, but I understand that her first language was Italian.”

The point being?

“It is quite possible that the senator heard this word from his mom when he was misbehaving,” he guesses. “My mom used this word to chastise us when we were not doing the right thing. Many Italian mothers that I was around used this word.

“It was not flattering, but it did not mean ‘monkey,’ but in the vernacular … ‘dummy, clown.’ And I can hear my mom now calling that [Democratic campaign] kid a ‘macaca’ (clown) for running around with a camera and following the senator around Virginia with that silly haircut.”

Village ‘idiots’

Mother Jones magazine, in its September/October issue, says blame for the “manipulation of intelligence” that eventually led to the U.S. military’s march into Iraq does not end with Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush, or even DonaldH. Rumsfeld’s Pentagon.

“It is shared by idiots from the Fourth Estate,” the left-wing magazine states. “The New York Times’ Judith Miller, to be sure. But also the editors of The Washington Post who routinely relegated vital reporting on the flimsiness of the administration’s Iraq intel to page A13.”

Mr. Cheney’s name, in this particular passage, is placed before the president’s in light of a question posed at a congressional hearing this summer by Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, examining the faulty U.S. intelligence.

“How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?” Mr. Jones asked.

Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime military adviser and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, simply replied: “The vice president.”

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

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