- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Kerry vs. the Guard

Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry’s apparent contempt for the National Guard goes back to at least 1970, when he helped organize protests against the National Guard Association convention, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

Earlier this month, Mr. Kerry compared service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War to dodging the draft by going to Canada.

Mr. Kerry was a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and was working out of the organization’s headquarters in New York City in 1970 when the National Guard Association held its convention at the American Hotel (now the New York Sheraton) from Sept. 3 to 17, Mr. Podhoretz said.

“Mr. Kerry was present when the Vietnam Veterans Against the War wrote Mayor John V. Lindsay and demanded that the city refuse to welcome another organization, one dedicated to representing other American servicemen,” the columnist said.

“Kerry’s group set up a picket line in front of the American, and staged a protest rally against the Guard on Sept. 17, 1970, at 5:30 p.m.

“Why would they do such a thing?” Mr. Podhoretz asked, and then supplied the answer as expressed in a mimeographed flier handed out by the protesters.

“The National Guard Uses Your Tax Dollar:

“To Support the military-industrial complex

“To honor war criminals — Westmoreland, Laird, Nixon, etc.

“To applaud campus murders by National Guard units

“To encourage armed attacks on minority communities.”

Said Mr. Podhoretz: “The decision to stage this defamatory protest against the National Guard — which then comprised 409,412 Army Guard and 89,847 Air Guard personnel — was made in John Kerry’s presence and with his full knowledge. Executive-committee minutes for Vietnam Veterans Against the War note that among the six ‘members attending’ a meeting to plan the protest was ‘John Kerry — NE Rep.’”

Paige vs. ‘terrorists’

Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation’s largest teachers union a “terrorist organization” during a private White House meeting with governors yesterday.

Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Mr. Paige’s remarks about the 2.7-million-member National Education Association, the Associated Press reports.

“These were the words, ‘The NEA is a terrorist organization,’” said Democratic Gov. James E. Doyle of Wisconsin.

“He was making a joke, probably not a very good one,” said Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania. “Of course he immediately divorced the NEA from ordinary teachers, who he said he supports.

“I don’t think the NEA is a terrorist organization,” said Mr. Rendell, who has butted heads with the group as well. “They’re not a terrorist organization any more than the National Business Organization is a terrorist organization.”

Dream candidate?

“Listening to Herman Cain speak, one would think that he is the Republican dream candidate” for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia, Mike Bowers writes in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“He is eloquent on the issues. Conservative yet not extreme in his views, he could easily win over moderate and conservative Democratic voters to his cause,” Mr. Bowers said.

“He is a successful businessman running against two long-term officeholders. He is also African-American.

“Polls show that he is largely unknown to most Georgians. To tackle this, he has begun airing television commercials across the state touting his conservative credentials.

“How successful the commercials will be remains to be seen. He is running against Johnny Isakson, one of the founders of the modern-day Georgia Republican Party, and U.S. Rep. Mac Collins, so his task remains formidable but not impossible.

“What Cain is doing is broadening the Republican Party. Polls show that if Republicans can capture between 15 percent and 20 percent of the African-American vote, they will be able to truly emerge as the majority party in Georgia.

“Some would argue that this is an impossible task. However, Republican African-Americans like Cain and Dylan Glenn (running a strong campaign for the congressional seat of Collins) are putting a new face on Georgia Republicans. They are also appealing to a younger, professional, affluent African-American middle class who relate to Republican positions on education, social values, the economy and national security.”

Halliburton probe

The Pentagon said yesterday it had opened a criminal investigation of fraud accusations against a unit of Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton Co., including possible overpricing of fuel delivered to Iraq, Reuters news agency reports.

The investigation was focused on Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, the U.S. military’s biggest contractor in Iraq, which has become a lightning rod of Democratic criticism in this presidential-election year.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the criminal investigative arm of the inspector general’s office, is investigating allegations on the part of KBR of fraud, including the potential overpricing of fuel delivered to Baghdad by a KBR subcontractor,” said a Pentagon spokeswoman.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the company had not received any notification of the fraud probe, adding it was important to understand the “difference between fact and allegation.”

“The facts show KBR delivered fuel to Iraq at the best value, best price and at the best terms,” she said.

“In the current political environment, it is to be expected,” Miss Hall said of the latest developments.

Dean’s debt

Despite raising a record $50.3 million, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign was in debt when Mr. Dean withdrew from the race.

“We do have a debt, but it’s not unmanageable,” campaign manager Roy Neel said Friday. “It will be paid off pretty quickly. I don’t know of a major campaign that does not end with a debt of some kind.”

Mr. Neel said he did not know how much the campaign was in debt, but said it will probably exceed $500,000 once expenses for shutting down the campaign are known, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Neel said the campaign may try to raise money over the Internet to help retire the debt.

Sizing up Kerry

“Oh, boy, a close race in Wisconsin. This is swell! Go, Democrats,” liberal columnist Molly Ivins writes.

“A few days ago, a Respected Party Elder advised me to stop dissing John Kerry on account of, ‘He will be our nominee.’ He may be ‘our nominee,’ but he’ll still be a boring stiff. OK, sort of an impressive boring stiff,” Miss Ivins said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]m.

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