Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
NAACP chairman Julian Bond told a Martin Luther King Day celebration in Philadelphia that Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are being used as, "shields" to protect this administration from claims of racism. Bond also told the group, "There is indeed a right wing conspiracy and it controls the White House, Congress, government and most of the media."
And he lashed out at the Bush administration, saying the president is appealing to the, "dark underside of American society and tampering with basic freedoms granted by the Constitution." But according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bond did not specify any particular objectionable actions, policies or statements by the administration.
EU's Urgent Action
The European Union has proposed a continent-wide ban on swastika and other Nazi paraphernalia, after Britain’s Prince Harry created an uproar by wearing a Nazi armband to a costume party. E.U.’s Justice Chief Franco Frattini says, "E.U. action is urgent and has to forbid very clearly the Nazi symbols in the European Union.
But British liberal Democrat Chris Davey said such a rule would infringe on freedom of speech. Adding, "Banning symbols cannot ban evil and risks playing into the hands of those who would seek to subvert the very liberties we most champion."
Kentucky’s Republican legislature is insisting on giving a state Senate seat to recently elected Dana Stevenson, even though Stevenson lived in another state until 2001, making her constitutionally ineligible for office under Kentucky’s resident requirement. A judge’s ruling has temporarily prevented Stephenson from performing any of her senatorial duties or collecting a paycheck.
But GOP Senate President David Williams says that as the majority party, Republican authority supersedes that of the courts. Even without Stevenson, Republican would hold 22 of 38 seats in the state Senate.
Meanwhile, a Milwaukee County Election Commission says at least 10,000 presidential ballots may be invalid in a state John Kerry won by just over 11,000 votes. Wisconsin allows voters to register and vote on Election Day without showing a photo I.D. But election officials say that nearly one in seven of those who use same-day registration failed to provide a proper address or other information.
Wisconsin state representative Jeff Stone, a Republican, says other counties may have similar numbers of invalid votes and is seeking a statewide election review, as well as an investigation into possible fraud. But Milwaukee’s top election tells the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" that claims of fraud are, "overblown."
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report