John McCaslin

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she looks forward to working with newly crowned Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, starting with voting reform.

As people in Iraq and Ukraine "celebrate elections and voter participation," says the former first lady, "we must make sure every vote is counted in elections right here at home."

Which brings us to the Count Every Vote Act of 2005, which Clinton is introducing this week with California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. If  passed, the legislation would provide a verified paper ballot for every electronic vote cast and require the Election Assistance Commission to ensure uniform access to voting machines.

"It's outrageous that some people in predominantly minority communities had to wait up to 10 hours to vote (in 2004), while people in other communities often voted in minutes," Clinton says.

If her act sounds familiar, it is because she introduced similar legislation last year, but acknowledges that "it never saw the light of day."

"I couldn't even get a hearing for my bill before the Senate Rules Committee," she complains.


That was Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, complaining Monday about Sunday night's Grammy Awards.

Not so much about the music, rather that American taxpayers - to the tune of $150,000 - are funding "millionaire singers, producers and executives."

An earmark of $150,000 is contained in the 2005 omnibus appropriations bill for the Grammy Foundation, the music-appreciation wing of the Recording Academy that distributes the annual awards.

"A song by the name of 'Here We Go Again' won the Grammy for Record of the Year last night," notes Flake. "After finding out today that Congress kicked in $150,000 . . . I'm thinking the same thing."


With the backing of conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly, Janine Hansen, as national chairman, has launched Mothers Against the Draft.

"We want to be sure to head off any effort to draft our sons and daughters," Hansen explains. "Those who choose to serve in the military should have our respect. But we feel in this land of the free and the home of the brave that those who may be drafted and forced to fight for freedom are not free."

The coming weeks, she says, will be spent surveying senators and congressmen on where they stand on a compulsory military draft and mandatory national service.


The Dacor Bacon House, the club of retired diplomatic and consular officers in Washington, was the setting to serenade, play harmonica and sing "Happy Birthday" to veteran journalist and author Viola Herms Drath.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.