- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Santorum’s landing

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, yesterday became a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, John J. Miller reports at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“I want to contribute to the world of ideas,” Mr. Santorum said.

After 16 years in Congress — four in the House, 12 in the Senate — Mr. Santorum lost his bid for re-election in November. However, he hopes to remain in the public spotlight as director of the EPPC’s brand-new America’s Enemies program, Mr. Miller writes.

“It’s a stark name,” Mr. Santorum said. “But we wanted to be candid about the fact that America really does have enemies and to point out that the nature of these enemies is much more complex than what people realize. It’s not just Islamic fascism, but also Venezuela, North Korea, and, increasingly in my opinion, Russia.”

Landrieu’s plan

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, said yesterday that Congress can — and should — do more to help stop the recent wave of violent crime plaguing New Orleans.

The Democrat urged adoption of her 10-point plan, which grants federal funds and beefs up drug and violence task forces disrupted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She sent a letter to President Bush asking that his budget include funds to double the size of a Drug Enforcement Administration task force and an FBI gang task force.

“Regrettably, these abandoned neighborhoods are a perfect breeding ground for crime and drug traffickers that can take advantage of the total absence of witnesses to undertake their operations unobserved,” she said.

Mrs. Landrieu said “action must be taken,” especially in light of the 12 killings in recent weeks, nine of them since Jan. 1.

Among her proposals was a plan to put up surveillance cameras to monitor crime and for potentially abusive police. She also wants to increase funding to build a new police academy to replace what was damaged during the hurricane.

The city must give a perception of safety in the weeks before next month’s Mardi Gras celebration, a major economic boost, she said.

Sharpton again

Black activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday he is seriously considering a run for president.

“I don’t hear any reason not to,” Mr. Sharpton, 52, said in an interview during an urban-affairs conference in New York sponsored by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“If we’re talking about the urban agenda, can you tell me anybody else in the field who’s representing that right now?” Mr. Sharpton asked. “We clearly have a reason to run, and whether we do it or not we’ll see over the next couple of months.”

Mr. Sharpton mounted a long-shot bid for the White House in 2004, in which his wit and fiery denunciation of President Bush often enlivened Democratic primary debates. He dropped out of the race after losing several state primaries and endorsed the eventual nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Despite widespread interest in the likely candidacy of another influential black Democrat, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Mr. Sharpton said he’s heard little substantive discussion of issues that might influence his decision about running, the Associated Press reports.

“Right now, we’re hearing a lot of media razzle-dazzle,” Mr. Sharpton said. “I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat, or if there’s some real meat there.”

Mr. Sharpton said the candidate who impressed him most so far was former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, who has made poverty the central issue of his campaign.

Johnson’s recovery

Sen. Tim Johnson’s condition has been upgraded from critical to fair, four weeks after he was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage, his office said yesterday.

The South Dakota Democrat, who was rushed to the hospital on Dec. 13 and underwent emergency surgery, remains in intensive care, said his spokeswoman, Julianne Fisher.

“The senator continues to make progress,” she said. “The next step would be rehabilitation, and we hope that would happen within the week.”

Mr. Johnson’s office has said that his recovery is expected to take several months. He underwent surgery to correct a condition called arteriovenous malformation, involving tangled arteries in his brain.

The senator’s doctors said last week that Mr. Johnson was improving, but still needed a ventilator at night to help him breathe. The ventilator has required a tube to be placed down Mr. Johnson’s throat, making it impossible for him to talk.

Court ruling

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the conviction of a man caught trying to enter the country illegally in a case that initially was seen as a test of whether a flawed indictment could violate a defendant’s rights.

But in an 8-1 opinion, the court said that the indictment of Juan Resendiz-Ponce itself was sound. The indictment “did not deprive him of any significant protection that the constitutional guarantee of a grand jury was intended to confer,” Justice John Paul Stevens said.

Resendiz-Ponce, a Mexican national, sought to persuade the justices that there was a problem so serious in his indictment that it warranted reversing his conviction, the Associated Press reports. Justice Antonin Scalia, the lone dissenter, agreed.

Resendiz-Ponce was charged with attempting to enter the country illegally after he was arrested at the border crossing at San Luis, Ariz., on June 1, 2003. He presented his cousin’s green card and driver’s license to U.S. authorities.

But the grand jury indictment that followed fail to set out any specific acts showing how he tried to enter the United States. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the omission was so serious that it violated Resendiz-Ponce’s constitutional rights and required automatic reversal of the conviction.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, however, told justices at oral argument that this error was harmless because Resendiz-Ponce received a fair trial at which a jury determined that the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he had displayed two false pieces of identification in an effort to enter the country.

Familiar name

Vince Morris, a former political reporter for The Washington Times, has signed on as communications director for the Senate office of John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

The hiring of Mr. Morris comes as Mr. Kerry gears up for another run for the presidency, according to washingtonpost.com.

Mr. Morris, who also covered politics for the New York Post, more recently served as communications director for former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who left office last week after two terms.

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

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