BELT­WAY

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By John McCaslin

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.

Clown­ing around

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.”

Vil­lage ‘id­iots’

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.”

Chad re­call

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

Fi­nance:MaxBau­cu­sofMon­tana

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:

Speaker:Nan­cyPelo­siofCal­i­for­nia

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 jm­c­caslin@wash­ing­ton­times.com. J.

Katie Falkenberg / The Wash­ing­ton Times

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

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