- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Hastert vs. Soros

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert yesterday responded to an angry letter from billionaire financier George Soros accusing the politician of implying on national television last weekend that Mr. Soros receives funds from drug cartels.

Mr. Soros sent the letter to Mr. Hastert on Tuesday, telling the Illinois Republican he should be “ashamed” for suggesting “that I might be a criminal simply because I have exercised my First Amendment rights to dissent from the policies of the Bush administration.”

In a reply letter sent yesterday, Mr. Hastert defended his remarks on “Fox News Sunday” and shot back.

“I never implied that you were a criminal, and I never would, that’s not my style,” Mr. Hastert wrote. “I will state clearly that I believe your agenda is dangerous, extreme and wrong for America.”

Mr. Hastert wrote that he’s particularly concerned with Mr. Soros’ fight for drug legalization, and his funding of groups working toward that goal. “These were the drug groups that I referred to in my comments on the ‘Fox News Sunday’ program,” Mr. Hastert wrote, adding that he also strongly disagrees with Mr. Soros’ promotion of euthanasia.

Mr. Hastert also criticized Mr. Soros for funding the largely unregulated “527” groups that have bashed President Bush in television ads this year.

“The American people ought to know that the same people who have fought so aggressively to legalize drugs in this nation and to promote euthanasia are now fighting to defeat George Bush and Republicans in Congress,” Mr. Hastert said. “I would hope that the American people will take note of the radical agenda that lies behind the millions of dollars of negative advertising.”

Try, try again

The Louisiana Supreme Court was asked yesterday to knock a congressman off the Nov. 2 ballot for switching at the last minute to the Republican Party.

The appeal was filed by Jock Scott, who was the leading Republican candidate for Congress until Rep. Rodney Alexander suddenly switched from the Democratic Party, the Associated Press reports.

“Rodney Alexander should be denied the benefit of his cynical actions that violated the letter and spirit of the Louisiana election code,” Mr. Scott’s attorney, Michael Johnson, argued in court papers.

The turmoil began Aug. 6, when Mr. Alexander filed to run for re-election as a Republican 15 minutes before the filing deadline — and two days after he had filed as a Democrat. Furious Democrats sued to keep him off the ballot.

A judge refused to do so, though he reopened the sign-up period for candidates. On Monday, however, an appeals court struck down the new qualifying period.

Mr. Alexander, attending the Republican National Convention in New York, said of Mr. Scott’s appeal: “The appeals court has made the decision that we can stay on the ballot as a Republican. Whether he files a writ, it’s his legal right to do.”

Conspiracy theory

“New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says he believes the United States needs a ‘mega-Watergate’ scandal to uncover a far-reaching right-wing conspiracy, going back 40 years, to gain control of the U.S. government and roll back civil rights,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Krugman made the comments during a forum, ‘Books on Bush,’ at New York University Monday evening. While other authors present — former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, and ‘House of Bush, House of Saud’ author Craig Unger — directed their fire at the Bush administration, Krugman told the crowd that the president is simply a front man for larger and more sinister forces,” Mr. York said.

“‘We probably make a mistake when we place too much emphasis on Bush the individual,’ said Krugman, who received a standing ovation when he was introduced. ‘This really isn’t about Bush. Bush is the guy that the movement found to take them over the top. But it didn’t start with him, and it won’t end with him. What’s going on in this country is that a radical movement … that had been building for several decades, finally found their moment and their man in Bush.’

“Krugman said he and other liberals had been ‘asleep’ and unaware of the true dimensions of the danger during the years in which President Clinton found himself facing a variety of scandal allegations. But Krugman said there is a ‘complete continuity’ between today’s politics and the ‘campaign of slander and innuendo’ against Clinton. ‘There’s complete continuity going back, really, I think — but this is my next book — you really need to go back to Goldwater. A lot of this has to do with civil rights, and the people who don’t like them.’

“Krugman described the conspiracy as ‘the coalition between the malefactors of great wealth and the religious right.’ He offered no further details about who, precisely, is in the conspiracy, but said that ‘substantial chunks of the media are part of this same movement.’”

Moore vs. McCain

Bush-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore, perhaps smarting from the jeers sent his way by Republican convention delegates Monday, appeared to suggest yesterday that Sen. John McCain is a mere puppet of President Bush’s campaign, which put words in the Arizona Republican’s mouth.

Mr. McCain inspired the hostile reception for Mr. Moore by describing him in a speech as “a disingenuous filmmaker.”

Mr. Moore, in a column in yesterday’s USA Today, accused Mr. Bush of instigating dirty tricks against Mr. McCain when the two men were competing for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000.

“Still, McCain has offered to soldier on for Bush,” Mr. Moore said. “So how does Bush’s campaign treat him? It doesn’t tell him I might be in the press section, officially credentialed.

“It has him say some gibberish about my movie. Everyone then sees me. I start laughing my ball cap off, the crowd goes bananas, and poor McCain must think he said something funny or cool, so he says, ‘That line was so good, I’ll use it again.’

“Agghh!”

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

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