- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2004

Targeting Rush

“Former right-wing operative David Brock is urging the Pentagon to get Rush Limbaugh off American Forces Radio,” Terence Samuel reports in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Brock, now president of Media Matters for America, a group formed to combat the influence of conservative media outlets, says that the government shouldn’t be sponsoring what Limbaugh is peddling. The popular talk show host, whose radio program is heard at military installations worldwide, has said that what happened at Abu Ghraib was little more than what happens at a fraternity hazing. ‘It is abhorrent that the American taxpayer is paying to broadcast what is in effect pro-torture propaganda to American troops,’ Brock wrote to [Defense Secretary Donald H.]Rumsfeld. No Pentagon response so far.”

Term limits survive

“Reports of the death of term limits are greatly exaggerated,” Patrick Basham writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“On May 15, San Antonio voters provided a vivid demonstration that, contrary to recent national media coverage, term limits are very much alive,” said Mr. Basham, senior fellow at the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute and author of “Defining Democracy Down: Explaining the Campaign to Repeal Term Limits.”

“Seventeen thousand local politicians in 2,900 cities, counties, and towns throughout 40 states are now subject to term limits. In 1991, San Antonio voters imposed on their city council members a lifetime limit of two two-year terms in office, the strictest term-limit rule of any major metropolitan area in the nation.”

However, opponents of term limits “never rested in their attempt to roll back the political clock.”

“In 1996, a federal court dismissed a legal challenge and upheld San Antonio’s lifetime term limits on city council members. The conundrum for the political establishment was that the term limitation could only be changed through the ballot box,” Mr. Basham said.

“Three months ago, San Antonio council members voted unanimously to weaken term limits through a referendum. Proposition 1 sought to expand the term limit to three consecutive three-year terms and lift the lifetime ban, thereby enabling council members to run again after sitting out a single term. Mayor Ed Garza admitted that this year’s campaign to relax the limit was simply the first step along the path to completely repealing term limits.”

Although defenders of term limits were outspent by a ratio of 100-to-1, the writer said, San Antonio voters on May 15 “overwhelmingly backed the current term-limit regime.”

Lugar’s view

Compromises necessary to fashion democracy in Iraq will make any post-Saddam Hussein government less than the model of freedom the Bush administration wants for the Middle East, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday.

Even a limited democratic system will require “trying out for size how you get a religious regime and a secular and a democratic regime together, how you keep Kurds together, how you keep Iraq together, without civil war,” Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In Iraq, “We are not an overwhelming force. We have not been accepted by the Iraqis,” Mr. Lugar said.

“The acceptance is coming, through … careful negotiations with specific people who are now providing security, knowing that America provides a very large protective shield for the whole country and for the economy.”

Hard-won success, he said, “is going to require something other than perhaps the more extravagant ideas of a shining city on the hill, a beacon of hope for everybody demanding freedom.”

The administration plans to present its Greater Middle East Initiative officially at the Group of Eight developed nations’ summit next week at Sea Island, Ga., the Associated Press reports.

Bush up in Ohio

President Bush leads Democratic rival Sen.John Kerry in the key state of Ohio in a three-way matchup that includes independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a poll shows.

Mr. Bush was at 47 percent, followed by Mr. Kerry at 41 percent and Mr. Nader at 3 percent among registered voters surveyed by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Results were released late Saturday, the Associated Press reports.

Nine percent of voters were undecided.

Mr. Bush’s lead came although about half of those surveyed expressed disapproval of his handling of the economy, which was found to be the No. 1 issue among Ohio voters.

These latest results come two weeks after an American Research Group Inc. poll of 600 likely voters found that Mr. Kerry had edged ahead of Mr. Bush in the state, 49 percent to 42 percent, with Mr. Nader at 2 percent.

The Mason-Dixon telephone survey of 1,500 registered voters was conducted May 20 to May 25 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Libertarian talker

Neal Boortz, the radio host who calls himself “the high priest of the church of the painful truth,” addressed nearly 1,000 fellow Libertarians at the party’s national convention in Atlanta on Saturday in a 42-minute performance that could have passed as a segment from his nationally syndicated talk show.

He cracked up the breakfast crowd by making fun of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (“Never trust a politician without knees”), razzing friend and conservative radio personality Sean Hannity (“Baby Jesus”) and taunting conventioneers who wore anti-Boortz lapel stickers in protest of his support of the war in Iraq (“If you can’t afford a button, get a new cause”), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“I’m going to do this like I do talk radio. If I get on a roll, you’re going to have to turn down the volume,” said Mr. Boortz, who broadcasts from WSB-AM in Atlanta.

Mr. Boortz’s pro-war stance runs counter to Libertarian ideology and prompted some to petition that he be removed as a convention speaker.

“For the most part,” Mr. Boortz told the crowd, “I’m not ideologically pure.”

Mr. Boortz, who on his show egged on antiwar Libertarian protesters throughout the week, ended his morning monologue by saying: “I’m really disappointed there were no raucous demonstrators.”

Try soft money

The California agency that polices political campaign finances faces deep cuts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

The cuts could force the Fair Political Practices Commission to halt investigations, even as the agency is looking into the governor’s use of campaign funds.

“The public should take pause when elected officials are significantly cutting an agency that watches over their behavior,” Andy Draheim, spokesman for California Common Cause, told the newspaper.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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