The coalition is getting behind a new bill introduced by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina. The measure would overrule a landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision confirming that union violence cannot be prosecuted under the racketeering statute if it is done in pursuit of legitimate union objectives.
In promoting Wilson's bill, conservatives are aiming at individual union members who complain about being intimidated by the union leadership. Conservatives want to protect the 40 percent of union members who voted for George W. Bush from union leaders, who send 96 percent of their political contributions to Democrats.
An "alternative inaugural ball" scheduled in Washington for Jan. 20 appears to have lost its top two attractions: Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
Obama and Dean were featured in mailings sent to Democratic contributors for the event at the National Press Club. However, fund-raiser Ted Westervelt told this column that Obama, originally pencilled in, has become a "maybe." Dean has been removed entirely because, said Westervelt, "he decided he had to do other things because of his run" for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York promised only to "drop by" the event briefly. The one absolutely certain guest is Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Elizabeth Edwards (wife of 2004 vice-presidential nominee John Edwards) and talk-show host Al Franken will likely attend.