Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Judging the judge

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday he will not vote to confirm federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. if the Supreme Court nominee stakes out positions before hearing particular cases.

Comments made yesterday by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, after meeting with Judge Roberts seem to run counter to statements made by fellow Democrats who have said they cannot vote for the nominee unless he promises to uphold abortion as a constitutional right.

“If I was a litigant before that court, no matter what my color, no matter what my station in life, no matter what the issue, can I look at this judge and think: ‘If I make the right argument, a strong enough argument, I can be heard?’ Or, do I look at this judge and say, ‘The decision’s made before I even get there?’” Mr. Leahy said.

“If it’s the latter, I will not vote for the person, no matter who it is,” he added. “If it’s the former, and the person’s otherwise qualified, then they get my vote.”

Last month, a group of female senators led by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California demanded to know Mr. Roberts’ position on abortion and said they would not vote for him unless he upholds abortion as a constitutional right.

Hit or miss

Do they need an umpire? Pinch hitters? Tonight, it’s nurses vs. Ahh-nawld, and right in the middle of a baseball game.

Registered nurses from the California Nurses Association (CNA) will sponsor “Nurses & Family Night at the Ballpark” at the Los Angeles Angels-Oakland A’s game today in Anaheim in direct opposition to a fundraiser for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the same place.

The nurses, along with local teachers and other activists, are staging a pre-game tailgate party, will gather in Section 135 and plan a splashy “protest wave” at precisely 8 p.m.

The nurses have chartered their own plane to tow a message over the stadium. “Air Arnold” will float the motto “Angels Don’t Sell Their Souls for Corporate Checks” behind it.

There’s not much word from the group, however, about the feelings of paying patrons at tonight’s game who might want to watch players circling the bases rather than nurses waving in protest.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is corrupting our democracy with his corporate fundraising and now he’s corrupting our national pastime,” CNA President Deborah Burger noted. “His special election is a dangerous attack on the working people of California that will only benefit his high-dollar backers. We’re out here to have a good time, but also to warn the people of Anaheim that corrupt corporate fundraising is going on right at the ballpark.”

At the ready

Hurricane Katrina is definitely a bipartisan emergency. As soon as the massive weather event struck their state, Louisiana’s senators swung into help mode.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat, immediately publicized numbers for shelters, the Red Cross, police, rescue and other resources for her constituents, inviting them to call her offices in Baton Rouge and Capitol Hill, if needed.

Republican Sen. David Vitter, meanwhile, cut to the chase, noting yesterday, “My thoughts and prayers go out to all Louisiana families as we recover from Hurricane Katrina.”

He, too, offered emergency numbers and even a satellite map tracking Katrina’s path of destruction. Mr. Vitter was also standing by, it seems, personally.

“Please feel free to call my office if I can help in any way,” he told constituents yesterday.

The Moore effect

Cindy Sheehan said she is “losing compassion” for those mothers who have lost children in Iraq but still choose to support the mission there. The mothers are “brainwashed,” Mrs. Sheehan thinks.

“One might be inclined to find more than a touch of irony in Sheehan’s brainwashing claim, given that it comes from a woman we now know has spent years marinating in (and whose current media extravaganza is supported by) some of the most extreme elements of the ideological left that are both anti-military and anti-Semitic,” noted an editorial at RealClearPolitics.com yesterday.

But it might prove dicey for the Democratic Party if it chooses to support Mrs. Sheehan in a big way when she arrives in Washington next month on a cross-country, anti-Bush bus tour.

“Republicans can only hope Democrats take leave of their senses when Cindy rolls into Washington, D.C., in a couple of weeks and hold a press conference with her on the steps of the Capitol. Just like the Congressional Dems’ screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and the royal treatment given Michael Moore at the DNC, it would be the signature political mistake of a party that continues to misread the hearts and minds of the public,” the editorial observed.

“People may be understandably frustrated with the pace of progress in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean they’ll embrace the idea of celebrating a woman supported by groups who want to see America — but this president in particular — fail and be humiliated in Iraq.”

Cindy Channel

Could ACN — the All Cindy Network — be in the works? Weirder things have happened.

Andrew Marcus, a documentary filmmaker, has gone to Cindy Sheehan‘s gatherings in Crawford, Texas, video camera in hand, poised to record the protesters’ goings-on for history, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Mr. Marcus observed, though, that a TV satellite truck has been regularly parked next to the anti-war protesters’ tent.

The filmmaker noted, “The interesting thing about this sat truck is that I don’t think it was there with any news organization. I could be incorrect on this, but I’m pretty sure that it was brought in by the anti-war protesters themselves. It is what gives them Internet access from the tent, and it is also what they use to create their own video packages to deliver to the networks. These are some extremely well-funded and media-savvy people. It is not just a grass-roots effort by everyday people.”

Mr. Marcus, who does not seem to favor either pro- or anti-war factions, is chronicling his findings at a Web site called “Lights, Camera, Protest.”

Sharpton mystery

Where’s Al?

Things got a little confusing for the Rev. Al Sharpton after he left Cindy Sheehan’s vigil site on Sunday. His driver was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for reaching 110 miles per hour on an Ellis County highway, about 40 miles south of Dallas.

The chauffeur was freed on $1,000 bail yesterday.

He told the lawmen that he was racing to get the New York activist and two other passengers to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The car was impounded, and Mr. Sharpton and the two other passengers were offered a ride to a nearby hotel. They declined and said they’d walk.

But where? According to the Associated Press, “There is no word on where they went.”

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

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