Byline: Greg Pierce, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Five Republican members of the U.S. House announced yesterday that they are forming the Congressional Hispanic Conference.
The new group will work to overcome "unacceptable ideological bars" placed in the way of Hispanics by liberal Democrats, the lawmakers said in an article on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.
Reps. Henry Bonilla of Texas; brothers Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all of Florida; and Devin Nunes of California said formation of the Hispanic Conference was inspired by what he called the "double standards" applied to judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, who has been the subject of a filibuster by Senate Democrats.
"One of the most offensive aspects of the opposition to the nomination of Mr. Estrada is the notion put forth by some Hispanic Democrats and leftist activist groups that he is 'Hispanic in name only' that because he is a mainstream lawyer, he doesn't represent the Hispanic community," the lawmakers said.
"Are we truly willing to exclude our accomplished minorities on the grounds that they have not pigeonholed their careers by focusing on one racial community? The suggestion jeopardizes the future of other qualified Hispanics because of unacceptable ideological bars. But apparently Democrats believe that they alone should get to decide what a 'Hispanic' should be."
The lawmakers added: "The new Hispanic Conference will promote policy outcomes that serve the best interests of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent and, thereby, all Americans. In this endeavor, we are pledged to place principle above partisanship on issues directly affecting the betterment of the Hispanic and Portuguese communities."
Presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, poked fun at his heritage in a surprise appearance at a St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Boston.
Despite his Irish surname, Mr. Kerry recently discovered that he is descended from Austrian Jews after a newspaper charted his family history.
"No matter who you are, everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day ... except John Kerry," joked state Sen. John A. Hart Jr., a Democrat and host of Sunday's event.
Mr. Kerry, whose office previously announced that he would not attend the breakfast because of his recent prostate cancer surgery, startled the packed crowd by showing up then taking jabs at himself, the Associated Press reports.
He ended his brief appearance onstage by singing a parody of "If You're Irish Come Into the Parlor," titled "If You're Yiddish Come Into the Parlor."
The 'Specter watch'
The campaign wing of Senate Democrats announced yesterday that it is organizing an "Arlen Specter watch" to see whether the Republican senator from Pennsylvania moves to the right to counter a 2004 Republican primary challenge from Rep. Patrick J. Toomey.
"It's just beginning, but everybody should be looking for the 'Specter Two Step' at a dance hall near you soon," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a press release yesterday.
"In fact, you may want to get out of the way as U.S. Senator Arlen Specter is sure to begin literally tripping over himself (right foot first) to move to the political right as he feels the heat from his primary challenger, U.S. Representative Pat Toomey.
"The DSCC will be keeping an eye on Senator Specter, and is calling on concerned citizens to do the same. If you spot Senator Specter veering to the right for political expediency, divorcing himself of past positions to fend off the Toomey challenge, please let us know by dropping us an email at email@example.com.
"The Arlen Specter watch has begun."
The Bradley Prizes
"Up to four people will win $250,000 apiece this September as the first recipients of the Bradley Prizes, a new set of awards for intellectual or civic achievement given by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation," John J. …