No time to write
One would gather that Rep. John Conyers Jr. doesn’t trust President Bush’s judgment when it comes to pardoningpeople,particularlythose who toiled in his White House.
TheMichiganDemocrat is pushing newly introduced legislation that would require the president to notify Congress upon the pardon of “any Executive Branch employee.”
Mr. Conyers explained: “This notification is necessary because it is possiblethatthepresidentcouldpardon an employee of his administration as a means of preventing an investigation from running its course and, perhaps, uncovering information critical of the administration.”
Any case come to mind?
“The need for this legislation came to light as a result of the Justice Department’s investigation into an administration official’s leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity,” Mr. Conyers stated when introducing the legislation.
“The indictment of I. Lewis Libby, whowas the vice president’s chief of staff, for false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation raised concerns that the president might use his authority to pardon Mr.Libby or other officials involved in serious criminal offenses.”
Mr. Conyers says he is most concerned because Mr. Bush has yet to respond to the letter he sent to him more than a year ago, July 25, 2005, “seeking his assurance that hewould not pardon any former or current officials involved in the leak” of Mrs. Plame’s name.
Whetherhedeservessuchdepths ornot,VirginiaSen.GeorgeAllenremains knee-deep in “macaca.”
Everybody from Washington to Ahmadabad has heard by now that Mr. Allen recently resorted to the term “macaca” when drawing attention to one of his Democratic opponent’s dark-skinned campaign workers, who was videotaping the Republican’s campaign remarks.
“Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia,” were Mr. Allen’s exact words — not derogatory, he insists to critics who label them racially offensive.
Of all the related mail this column received (and there was a ton), perhaps the most revealing comes from Joseph Luchi, a translator who lives in New York City.
“Assomeone fluent in Italian and of Italian descent, I have used this word quite often,” Mr.Luchi writes. “Mymomused this wordabout myself and my sister many times. It means ‘fool, clown, dummy.’
“My understanding is that Sen. Allen’s mom is not French Tunisian, but of Italian heritage born in Tunisia. Many thousands of Italians lived in Tunisia before World War II before they left or were expelled. Sen. Allen’s mom speaks several languages, but I understand that her first language was Italian.”
The point being?
“It is quite possible that the senator heard this word from his mom when he was misbehaving,” he guesses.“Mymomused this word to chastise us when wewere not doing the right thing. Many Italian mothersthatIwasaroundused this word.
“It was not flattering, but it did not mean ‘monkey,’ but in thevernacular [. . .] ‘dummy, clown.’ And I can hear mymomnowcallingthat[Democratic kid a ‘macaca’ (clown) forrunningaroundwithacameraand followingthesenatoraroundVirginia with that silly haircut.”
Mother Jones magazine, in its September/October issue, says blame for the “manipulation of intelligence” that eventually led to the U.S. military’s march into Iraq does not end with Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush, or even Donald H. Rumsfeld’s Pentagon.
“It is shared by idiots from the Fourth Estate,” the left-wing magazine states. “The New York Times’ Judith Miller, to be sure. But also the editors of TheWashington Post who routinely relegated vital reporting on the flimsiness of the administration’s Iraq intel to page A13.”
Mr. Cheney’s name, in this particular passage, is placed before the president’s in light of a question posedatacongressionalhearing this summer by Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, examining the faulty U.S. intelligence.
“How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?” Mr. Jones asked.
Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime military adviser and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, simply replied: “The vice president.”
Hanging chads. Dimpled chads. Pregnant chads. Nobody who counts election-year ballots — peering through a magnifying glass, or otherwise — ever wants to cross them again.
Welcometothenewelectronic-voting age, which promises to alleviate ballot-counting headaches. Right?
Don’t count on it.
Maryland is the latest state to warn its citizenry that brand new touch-screen voting machines might not be so reliable after all, including the lack of a proper paper trail that even chad-pocked paper ballots provided.
Then there’s the host of security-related issues that surround electronic voting systems. For instance, until adequate security measures are in place (so far they’re not), dreaded computer hackers could actually tamper with recorded votes.
Perhaps the voting public should follow the lead of the U.S. Congress, which casts votes practically every day it’s in session. Surely, after so many sessions, Congress has a foolproof voting system. Or does it?
Just for fun, Inside the Beltway is taking readers back a month ago, to the final days of congressional voting before the current August recess. Let’s allow the congressmen to speak for themselves.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia Republican: “Mr. Speaker, due to a mechanical failure with my voting card, my vote in favor of H. Res. 921 was not recorded. I strongly support the state of Israel, and am in full support of its actions to defend itself against the attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Speaking of Israel, Rep. Steve Israel,NewYorkDemocrat,cried:“Mr. Speaker,Imistakenlyvoted‘no’onroll call No. 384. I intended to vote in support of Mr. Watt’s amendment to preserve [. . .] the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Did the voting go any easier for Rep. John Linder, Georgia Republican?
“Mr. Speaker, on roll-call vote No. 380, House passage of S. 2754, I inadvertently was recorded as voting ‘nay.’ I would like the record to reflect the fact that I wanted my vote to be recorded as ‘yea.’ ”
And you, Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado Democrat?
“Mr. Speaker, I am listed as voting ‘yea’ during roll-call vote number 401 on H.R. 5013, the ‘Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006.’ This is an error. I oppose H.R. 5013 and want it noted that had my intention been properly expressed, I would be recorded as having voting ‘nay.’ ”
Rep. Ken Calvert, California Republican, has only himself to blame: “Mr. Speaker, I inadvertently voted ‘aye’ on roll call 417 [. . .] I would like the record to show that I had intended to vote ‘no.’ ”
For once, it wasn’t a wrong button — but her car’s accelerator — that Rep. Julia Carson, Indiana Democrat, pushed: “Due to a fender bender onmyway to vote, I was unable to record my roll-call votes 400 to 402. Had I been present, I would have voted ‘yes’ on all votes.”
All in the mind
Daily dance lessons continue in Bethesda for MSNBC talk-show host Tucker Carlson, as he prepares to compete against 11 other celebrities in the third season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
“It’s not easy,” Mr. Carlson tells Inside the Beltway. “Physically, it’s no problem. The difficult part is memorizing all of the steps.”
Infact,afterhehadfinishedhisfirst weekoflessons,heremarkedthathis legs felt fine, only his head hurt.
Voting for change
Percentage of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, in October 1994 who said they were excited to vote that year: 45, 30.
Percentage who say that about the 2006 midterm election: 30, 46
— Harper’s Index, September 2006
Clip ‘n’ save
Speaking of change, what would a Democrat-controlled Congress look like?
Patrick J. Cleary, senior vice president of communications at the National Association of Manufacturers, who was chairman of the National Mediation Board under the first President Bush, has put together a chart to show inquiring minds the likely leaders and major committee chairmen should Democrats retake control of Congress after November’s elections. First, the Senate:
Senate Majority Leader: Harry Reid of Nevada
Majority Whip: Richard Durbin of Illinois
Appropriations: Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia
Armed Services: Carl Levin of Michigan
Budget: Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Foreign Relations: Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts
Homeland Security: Joe Lieberman (so he hopes) of Connecticut
Judiciary: Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont
Rules and Administration: Dianne Feinstein of California
Small Business and Entrepreneurship: John Kerry of Massachusetts
In the House:
Majority Whip: Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland
Appropriations: David R. Obey of Wisconsin
Armed Services: Ike Skelton of Missouri
Budget: John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina
Education and the Workforce: George Miller of California
Energy and Commerce: John D. Dingell of Michigan
Financial Services: Barney Frank of Massachusetts
Government Reform: Henry A. Waxman of California
International Relations: Tom Lantos of California
Judiciary: John Conyers Jr. of Michigan
Ways and Means: Charles B. Rangel of New York
The chart (more is found at the NAMWebsite,ShopFloor.org)alsoincludes all of those named Democrats, compared with their Republican counterparts. In one word, Mr. Cleary told Inside the Beltway on Aug. 22: “Grim.”
John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or email@example.com. J.
What did he really mean by that remark? Sen. George Allen
He’ll be dancing with the stars soon. MSNBC talk-show host Tucker Carlson