Monday, March 19, 2007

Unusual coalition

Conservative activists concerned about what they say is the erosion of civil liberties plan to propose legislation to limit presidential authority.

Tomorrow at the National Press Club, Bruce Fein, David Keene, Richard Viguerie and Bob Barr will announce the formation of the American Freedom Agenda, which they describe as “a coalition established to restore checks and balances and civil liberties protections under assault by the executive branch.”

They will “present a legislative package to restore congressional oversight and habeas corpus, end torture and extraordinary rendition, narrow the president’s authority to designate ‘enemy combatants,’ prevent unconstitutional wiretaps and mail openings, protect journalists from prosecution under the Espionage Act, and more,” according to a press release.

Mr. Fein served as associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration; Mr. Keene is chairman of the American Conservative Union; Mr. Viguerie is a conservative organizer best known for his direct-mail fundraising operation; and Mr. Barr is a former Georgia Republican congressman who last year joined the Libertarian Party.

Gates and Pace

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates declined to say yesterday whether the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should apologize for his remark that homosexual acts were immoral or whether it was a slur on homosexual members of the armed forces.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace made the remark last Monday in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. The next day, following criticism from several lawmakers and homosexual rights groups, Gen. Pace said that he regretted having stated a personal opinion, but did not apologize.

“I think General Pace has made pretty clear that he wished he had avoided his personal opinion,” Mr. Gates said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. The secretary said he did not plan to ask Gen. Pace to do anything more in regard to the remark.

Asked if Gen. Pace’s comment was a slur on members of the armed forces, Mr. Gates said: “I think I’ll leave it at the fact that I don’t think this is an issue where personal opinion has any place.” As far as Gen. Pace apologizing, Mr. Gates said, “I think we should just move on from this point.”

Mr. Gates said Gen. Pace was a man of enormous principle and integrity and tremendous skill, the Associated Press reports. “I think the American people are lucky to have him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” he said.

A politics channel, the largest Internet social-networking site, said yesterday it has launched a politics channel for the 2008 presidential elections.

The News Corp.-owned site’s politics site, called the Impact Channel (, will feature links to the profiles of 10 presidential candidates — five Democrats and five Republicans.

Democratic hopefuls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, former Sen. John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have all used the Web to announce their plans.

“Our digital candidates banner will be the yard signs of the 21st century, and our political viral videos and vlogs [video blogs] are the campaign ads of the futures,” wrote Chris DeWolfe, MySpace chief executive.

The Impact Channel will feature videos from the candidates, voter-registration tools and job listings. It will feature fundraising tools in the coming weeks, Reuters news agency reports.

Family future

Conservatives who focus on family issues think they have reason to crow now that they have Poland’s pro-family president, Lech Kaczynski, committed to delivering the opening address at the May 11-13 World Congress of Families IV in Warsaw.

“Some of the largest social-issue groups in America are co-sponsors of the Congress, including American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council and Focus on the Family,” said spokesman Don Feder. “There are also co-sponsoring organizations from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Italy and Poland.”

At a National Press Club briefing today, Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, will join Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America and Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and several other leaders of major family organizations in explaining the Warsaw Congress’ theme.

Mr. Carlson said that more than 3,500 pro-family leaders, activists, scholars and parliamentarians, from more than 70 countries, are expected to attend the Warsaw gathering.

It will “focus on defending the sanctity of human life (from conception to natural death) and traditional marriage, as well as countering threats to the family from Hollywood, the courts, national governments and the international bureaucracy — including the European Union and United Nations.”

More information is available at www.worldcongress. org.

The good Hillary

“Surprise, surprise, a bold Democrat finally has told the truth about Iraq, a truth that goes like this: However chaotic it gets, we can’t just pack our bags and come home. Even if a Democrat is president, we’ve got serious business there, and ‘so I think that we will have troops’ in Iraq,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“Here’s the second surprise: The truth-teller was Sen. Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“It was the good Hillary, the adult who lived in the White House, is a serious student of foreign policy and knows we must project strength to friends and foes. The good Hillary wants to be president, but refuses to pander to a public disgusted with the war. We need to see more of her.

“Lately, we’ve been seeing too much of the bad Hillary. Swept up in the fever of the campaign, that Hillary has been a little puppy, obediently following the irresponsible lefty lurch of rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards. In a game of ‘can you top this,’ bad Hillary even promised last month that ‘if we in Congress don’t end this war before January 2009, as President, I will.’

“Fortunately, good Hillary was back last week and talked like a confident, responsible leader of the world’s only superpower.

“Making the case that America has vital interests in Iraq — from hunting Al Qaeda to blocking Iran — good Hillary struck the right balance in an interview with the New York Times. She painted a realistic scenario and response, one that repurposes our mission away from policing a civil war to using the military and diplomacy to make sure Iraq doesn’t descend into a terror haven and ignite a regional conflict. In broad outline, that is the policy the next president will have to follow.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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