- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2006

Feingold’s ‘candor’

“Republicans are denouncing Sen. Russ Feingold’s proposal to ‘censure’ President Bush for his warrantless wiretaps on al Qaeda, but we’d like to congratulate the Wisconsin Democrat on his candor. He’s had the courage to put on the table what Democrats are all but certain to do if they win either the House or Senate in November,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

“In fact, our guess is that censure would be the least of it. The real debate in Democratic circles would be whether to pass articles of impeachment. Whether such an inevitable attempt succeeds would depend on Mr. Bush’s approval rating, and especially on whether Democrats could use their subpoena power as committee chairs to conjure up something they could flog to a receptive media as an ‘impeachable’ offense. But everyone should understand that censure and impeachment are important — and so far the only — parts of the left’s agenda for the next Congress,” the newspaper said.

The Journal added: “Not only do [Democrats] want to block his policies, they also plan to rebuke and embarrass him in front of the world and America’s enemies. And they want to do so not because there is a smidgen of evidence that he’s abused his office or lied under oath, but because they think he’s been too energetic in using his powers to defend America. By all means, let’s have this impeachment debate before the election, so voters can know what’s really at stake.”

No shake-up

The White House yesterday dismissed Sen. Norm Coleman’s call for an administration shake-up, saying it’s part of a Washington “parlor game,” McClatchy News Service reports.

“There’s a perception out there on the part of the American people that Washington tends to get caught up in a lot of this parlor game, and they tend to get caught up in all this babble, process-oriented stuff,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. “I think the American people want us to stay focused on their priorities.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Coleman, Minnesota Republican, told the Associated Press that the White House had been afflicted by a political “tin ear” and likened the White House staff to tired hockey players who need a break. He cited the White House response to Hurricane Katrina, the withdrawn nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and the plans for Dubai-based DP World to take over terminals at six major U.S. seaports.

Ginsburg’s complaint

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor have been the targets of death threats from the “irrational fringe” of society.

Justice Ginsburg, in a speech in South Africa last month, said she and Mrs. O’Connor were threatened a year ago by someone who on the Internet called for the immediate “patriotic” killing of the justices.

Justice Ginsburg said the Web threat was apparently prompted by Republican legislation that would bar judges from relying on foreign laws or court decisions, the Associated Press reports.

“It is disquieting that they have attracted sizable support. And one not-so-small concern — they fuel the irrational fringe,” she said in a speech posted online by the court earlier this month and first reported yesterday by LegalTimes.com.

Harris to stay in

Rep. Katherine Harris last night said on the Fox News Channel that she will stay in the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat and plans to spend $10 million she inherited from her father in her race to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Mrs. Harris ended speculation that she would quit the race in an appearance on “Hannity & Colmes,” the Associated Press reports. Rumors swirled that she would withdraw after her name was associated with a defense contractor who bribed another congressman.

“I’m staying. I’m in this race. I’m going to win,” she said. “I’m going to put everything on the line.”

Her father, wealthy banker George Harris, died in January. After the funeral, she dedicated her campaign to him.

“When I lost him, I said I would win this for my father,” she said.

A University of North Florida poll released hours before her television appearance showed Mrs. Harris 20 percentage points behind Mr. Nelson, 48 percent to 28 percent. The statewide poll of 591 registered voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Souter keeps house

In a largely symbolic gesture, voters in Justice David Souter’s hometown on Tuesday rejected a proposal to seize his 200-year-old farmhouse as payback for a ruling that expanded government’s authority to take property.

Even though voters in Weare, N.H., overwhelmingly agreed to leave Justice Souter’s home alone, it would have been safe whatever the outcome, the Associated Press reports.

The vote was prompted by activists angered by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last year in a property-rights case from Connecticut. Justice Souter sided with the majority in holding that governments can take property and turn it over to private developers.

Originally, the ballot measure called for the seizure of Justice Souter’s home so that it could be turned into an inn called the Lost Liberty Hotel. But at a town meeting in February, residents of the town of 8,500 watered down the language.

Voters decided 1,167 to 493 in favor of the reworded measure that asked the Board of Selectmen not to use their power of eminent domain to take the farmhouse, and instead urged New Hampshire to adopt a law that forbids seizures of the sort sanctioned by the Supreme Court.

Two of the major players pushing for the seizure of Justice Souter’s home also lost their bids for the five-member Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

Even if the two candidates were elected, the board would not have had a majority in favor of seizing Justice Souter’s house.

Grandma Harman

Rep. Jane Harman breezed into a press conference looking a little tired Tuesday afternoon, but she had a good reason.

“As of 5:30 this morning, I’m a first-time grandmother,” the California Democrat told reporters gathered in the room.

Mrs. Harman, 60, announced that her granddaughter was born in New York earlier that day, generating applause and some friendly laughter.

“We don’t have a name yet, but she’s healthy,” Mrs. Harman said.

The congresswoman even managed to work the newborn into her prepared remarks about a port-security measure she was promoting, saying the bill was necessary to protect her granddaughter’s future.

She said the legislative process would fly by, since a hearing on the measure would be held when the little one was just two days old.

“By the time she’s a week old, wow,” Mrs. Harman added.

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

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