Thursday, January 19, 2006

Confused groups

Far-left group and the Democratic National Committee targeted the Wednesday Meeting of conservative activists, held at the headquarters of Americans for Tax Reform, trying somehow to link the weekly strategy gathering to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

“Rain-soaked MoveOn activists heckled the roughly 90 lobbyists, libertarians, movement conservatives and Hill staffers who trooped into [ATR President] Grover Norquist’s Wednesday Meeting this a.m.,” Hotline reported.

“But just last week, a MoveOn co-founder, Joan Blades, helped get Al Gore into that same meeting.

“Gore relished the chance to ‘talk about global warming directly to the conservative base,’ said a Dem activist with knowledge of the arrangements.

“George Soros, MoveOn’s most famous financial backer, has also spoken at the meeting and encouraged Gore to take his global warming presentation there.

“Blades, who knows Norquist, brokered the introduction.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday, “The DNC plans to videotape participants as they enter and exit Norquist’s downtown Washington office building.”

A wag at Americans for Tax Reform remarked, “Had they been here just two weeks ago, the DNC could have videotaped Al Gore himself, perhaps gotten his autograph.”

Issues vs. scandal

“The Abramoff scandal is swallowing us all, and no matter what this committee does on the immigration resolution, all the press will write about is the scandal,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett yesterday after the kickoff sessions of the two-day annual winter meeting of the 165-member Republican National Committee.

Dozens of members echoed Mr. Bennett’s concern, many complaining that the Republican response in Congress to the lobbying-bribery scandal has been weaker than that of the Democrats.

Both parties are attempting to one-up each other on reform proposals. But what RNC members told reporter Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times is that most people on the committee and in the country care more about having the government enforce the immigration laws and secure the borders, and that many committee members don’t agree with the administration that this also means a guest-worker program or some sort of amnesty for illegal aliens.

Competing resolutions on the immigration issue are scheduled to be voted on by the full committee early today, and the outcome, members said, would be an indicator of what clout the White House still has with party leaders.

Pants on fire

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the National Security Agency’s monitoring of terror suspects’ communications, and commentator Debbie Schlussel has some interesting details about the ACLU-backed plaintiffs at her site,

“I’m referring to ACLU lawyers Noel Saleh, Mohammed Abdrabboh, and Nabih Ayad … attorney William Swor, a member National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Nazih Hassan — all named in the lawsuit,” Miss Schlussel writes. “They are exactly the kind of people whom the federal government SHOULD be watching, but probably isn’t.”

Miss Schlussel had written a column about Mr. Abdrabboh’s work as a lawyer representing terrorism suspects. She said that in a grievance filed against her last year “designed to deny my right to free speech,” Mr. Abdrabboh wrote: “Without hesitation, I affirmatively state that I have never represented anyone accused of terrorism or money laundering. I can also affirmatively state that I have never represented or consulted with anyone accused/suspected/indicted of money laundering, let alone money laundering to finance al Qaeda.”

That’s a flat lie, Miss Schlussel says: “In fact, Mohammed Abdrabboh represented Gamil Manea Ahmed Al-Najar, arrested in December 2002 … for operating a money-laundering business, Najjar Money Transfer … one of six businesses believed to have transmitted as much as $50 million per year to Yemen, in violation of the Patriot Act and other reporting requirements.” And federal officials told her that, indeed, they suspected the laundered money was going to al Qaeda-connected terrorists.

Looking for Reagan

“When Rep. John Shadegg jumped into the race for House majority leader last week, he called himself a ‘Reaganite’ who would bring back the Gipper’s vision of limited government. Rep. John Boehner, also running for majority leader, is sounding a similar note, quoting the 40th president extensively in his 37-page proposal on how to get the party back on track,” Brendan Miniter writes at

“It’s telling that now, five years into the second Bush presidency, conservatives are still looking for the next Ronald Reagan to champion their ideas in Washington. Even as Reagan and the current President Bush have similar presidential records — fighting wars of ideas around the globe and running federal deficits at home — Reaganism is the party’s philosophy, with its belief in small government, low taxes, forceful conservatism, a strong military and the view that this country is a shining example for all the world,” Mr. Miniter said.

Ted’s love child?

“The National Enquirer splashes this week with a shocking story about Sen. Ted Kennedy’s secret love child with a Cape Cod woman whom the mag says he dated during his days as a swinging single,” the Boston Herald reports.

“According to the tabloid’s source, the boy, named Christopher, just celebrated his 21st birthday and is ‘mature enough to make his own choices about his background and biological father,’ ” said Herald gossip columnists Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa.

“A Kennedy family confidante told the Enquirer, ‘This is one of the biggest secrets in the Kennedy family and known to only a few people including Ted’s ex-wife, Joan.’

“As for the senator, his spokesgal Melissa Wagoner last night called the tabloid tale ‘irresponsible fiction.’ ”

No to Sen. Laura

Don’t look for first lady Laura Bush to enter the political arena.

In a speech yesterday in Sterling, Va., reports Joseph Curl of The Washington Times, President Bush was asked by an audience member “when we’ll see our lovely first lady run for the Senate?”

“Never,” Mr. Bush said quickly.

“Come on. Ask her, will you?” the questioner said.

“No, I’m not going to ask her. Never,” he said as the crowd laughed.

“I’m pretty certain when I married her, she didn’t like politics or politicians. … She’s not interested in running for office,” Mr. Bush said.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce

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