- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2008

Fond farewell

Yesterday was the last day for the president’s top homeland security adviser, and the White House has not announced a replacement, raising questions about the future of the position.

There is speculation that the office headed by Frances F. Townsend, the Homeland Security Council, might be brought under the National Security Council, the White House office created in 1947.

Mrs. Townsend was scheduled to receive a send-off from her White House colleagues yesterday as she departed after four years from presiding over the HSC, which was created after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The rumored reorganization would expand the NSC’s role to include disaster preparedness and counterterrorism. But it also would move some domestic issues, such as infrastructure protection, back to where they originally were, reports Jon Ward of The Washington Times.

The national security adviser would then be given a second deputy to essentially handle what has been Mrs. Townsend’s assignment: to manage HSC staff and meetings — over which the president presides — and coordinate homeland security actions among federal agencies.

Joel Bagnow, Mrs. Townsend’s deputy, is considered a leading candidate to replace his former boss.

Edwards’ populism

“One candidate’s special interest is another’s freedom fighter, and no one is proving that more in this presidential cycle than John Edwards,” the Wall Street Journal said yesterday in an editorial.

“He’s making his final pitch in Iowa by railing against ‘special interests’ that he says ‘control Washington’ and create a ‘culture of greed and corruption.’ You won’t be surprised to learn he’s not referring to the tort bar,” the newspaper said.

“Mr. Edwards knows how to use words, and you’ll notice that his rhetoric is aimed entirely at ‘big corporations’ — especially drug, insurance and oil firms — on which he promises to impose new compensation limits and governance rules. He’s promising that no ‘corporate lobbyist or anyone who has lobbied for a foreign government’ will work in his White House. He made his case on our pages [Wednesday].

“But given his egalitarian impulses, we also wondered if the former senator would include billionaire trial lawyers among those who’d have their earnings capped, etcetera. We called the campaign to ask, and a spokesman offered the following: ‘Entrenched interests are anyone lobbying for their own corporate greed against the best interests of America’s middle class.’ We’ll take that as a no.”

The newspaper added: “Mr. Edwards’ populism, then, would seem to work like this: If you’re a business that creates wealth, you’re a special interest. If you redistribute that wealth, you’re not.”

Heavy duty

The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus tells us the current judicial usurpation of politics was foreseen more than 200 years ago.

On the First Things blog “On the Square,” Father Neuhaus cites the anti-Federalist writer Brutus as “prescient in seeing how, far from the courts being checked by the legislative and executive branches, the two latter branches would acquiesce and even collude in the protection and expansion of government power by letting the judiciary have the last word in saying what the Constitution means.”

Father Neuhaus plugs an essay by political philosophy professor J. Budziszewski detailing how this dynamic plays out.

“Constitutionalism, says Budziszewski, is ‘the principle that the real authority of government depends not on the personality of the rulers but on antecedent principles of right.’ Brutus wrote that, in the proposed Constitution, ‘These principles, whatever they may be, when they become fixed, by a course of [judicial] decisions, will be adopted by the legislature, and will be the rule by which they will explain their own powers.’ Which, of course, is precisely what has happened. The principles of right are no longer antecedent but are devised by the courts.

“This was most overtly, one might say flagrantly, asserted by the Supreme Court in the 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Court composed what Budziszewski calls a ‘confession of faith’: ‘At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.’ That is heavy-duty philosophy coming from a committee of lawyers.”

Two-headed town

Though a new mayor of Anderson, Ind., was inaugurated, the man he replaced says he’s not officially acknowledging the change, citing a lawsuit questioning the election winner’s residency.

Ex-Mayor Kevin Smith on Tuesday issued a statement contending it is his constitutional duty to keep claiming the office until the lawsuit — which charges that new Mayor Kris Ockomon wasn’t an Anderson resident for a required period before the election — is adjudicated.

On Wednesday morning, a judge sent the lawsuit to the Indiana Supreme Court, asking it to appoint a special judge to the case, according to a report at www.theindychannel.com.

Mr. Ockomon, who was sworn in Tuesday after defeating Mr. Smith and two others Nov. 6, assumed the mayor’s duties and moved into the mayor’s official office. But Mr. Smith says he’ll still claim the title of mayor until the lawsuit is resolved.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark Regnier, said Mr. Smith intends to “rule from exile” but not “interfere with city business.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Anderson residents, some of whom worked in Mr. Smith’s administration.

Mr. Ockomon has a home in Chesterfield, though he said he rented a home in Anderson in 2006 and lives in that Anderson home.

Seeing green

The Green Party will hold a presidential debate Jan. 13 in San Francisco, featuring former Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and self-styled consumer advocate Ralph Nader. And one of the debate moderators will be celebrity antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan.

Despite his planned appearance at the debate, Mr. Nader has yet to announce another run for the White House. He is blamed by some liberals for costing Al Gore the presidency in 2000.

Other debaters will be university professor Jared Ball and environmental engineer Kent Mesplay.

Green Party officials in California said Mrs. Sheehan, who plans to run as an independent congressional candidate against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, will be joined by prominent progressive elected officials to be announced later.

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

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