- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

Out of the past

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill found it ironic that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a “national-security” press conference this week that featured former President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Mr. Brzezinski excoriated the Bush administration’s foreign policy as the “catalyst for a general deterioration of the conditions in the Middle East and of American influence in the Middle East.”

“The war in Iraq not only is going badly, politically as well as militarily, but it has already elevated Iran into the principal geopolitical force in the region,” Mr. Brzezinski said. “The war in Iraq has complicated the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which the administration has neglected.”

With Mrs. Pelosi and other top Democrats looking on intently, Mr. Brzezinski laid out his four-point plan for fixing things in Iraq. He said the United States could solve everything by setting a date for departure, announcing it publicly, holding a “conference on stabilizing Iraq” with her neighbors and starting an international effort to provide Iraq with economic assistance.

“It strains the limit of humor to hear the foreign-policy elite of the Democratic Party attempt to blame George W. Bush for enabling Iran to become a global menace,” said the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Henry J. Hyde of Illinois. “For it was a Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, who presided over the seizure of power in Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, with a mixture of ineptitude and admiration. And it was Carter’s national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who oversaw this disastrous foreign policy.”

Mr. Hyde recalled the subsequent Iranian hostage crisis and said that the soft policy of appeasement continued under President Clinton.

“When it comes to foreign policy, at least the Democrats have the virtue of consistency,” he said. “Unfortunately, they have been consistently wrong for as long as I can remember.”

Cash in hand

The Republican donor who helped bankroll the Swift Boat ads about Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s war record and anti-war activities has given $5 million to a new group targeting Democratic candidates.

Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder, recently made hefty donations to the Economic Freedom Fund, a newly created California group, the Associated Press reports.

The group is a so-called 527 that is not subject to conventional campaign-finance restrictions and can spend unlimited amounts on election advocacy, similar to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In the 2004 presidential race, the group of Vietnam veterans challenged Mr. Kerry’s record of wartime heroism.

So far, the new group, which lists Mr. Perry as its sole donor, has spent slightly more than $500,000 on television ads and mailings criticizing Democratic Reps. Jim Marshall of Georgia and Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia, according to a disclosure form filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

A visit from George

A couple of months before House Republicans face a daunting November election, President Bush sought to inspire them with a closed-door speech on efforts in Iraq and the war on terror.

“The president stays focused on the job that needs to be done,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, after yesterday’s meeting. He said, as usual, Mr. Bush “speaks very clearly about the threat we face.”

In a rare Capitol Hill visit, Mr. Bush also urged the rank and file to pass the terror-detainee legislation he supports and fielded their questions on matters ranging from prayer in the military to immigration, reports Amy Fagan of The Washington Times.

Mr. Bush ticked through key Republican accomplishments of the past few years — something Rep. Jack Kingston said was meant to convey that “we’re going to hold the majority if we keep on doing what we’re been doing” in cutting taxes, passing pension reform and supporting Iraq and the war on terror.

“His view is you have to engage in it; don’t shy from discussion,” the Georgia Republican said.

A few of the congressmen asked Mr. Bush to ease up on calls for a comprehensive immigration bill, so that House Republicans can push their narrower border-security bill through Congress this year. The House yesterday passed a bill to build 700 miles of fences along the U.S.-Mexico border.

‘Handful’ of layoffs

Financially strapped Air America Radio acknowledged yesterday that it had laid off a few employees after star commentator Al Franken said his paycheck had stopped coming, but the network insisted that it has no plans to declare bankruptcy.

“If Air America had filed for bankruptcy every time someone rumored it to be doing so, we would have ceased to exist long ago,” Jaime Horn, a spokeswoman for the liberal talk show network, said. “It may be frustrating to some that it hasn’t happened.”

Miss Horn, without getting specific, said there were “a handful of layoffs” that followed a move of the network’s New York outlet from WLIB-AM to WWRL-AM, a station with a less powerful signal. The network was started in March 2004.

Mr. Franken, in a recent interview, said the network was suffering from “a cash-flow problem.”

“No cash has been flowing to me,” Mr. Franken, who makes a reported $2 million a year, told the New York Sun. “That’s the first inkling I got of a cash-flow problem.”

Blocked again

A federal judge has again blocked the state of Georgia from enforcing its voter photo-identification law, this time during the 30-plus local special elections next week, but he did not extend that order to include the general elections in November.

U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy also didn’t prevent the state from moving forward with its efforts to educate the public about the law in time for the Nov. 7 elections. In fact, Judge Murphy commended the state for its education efforts up to this point to remind voters that under the new law, they must present a valid form of government-issued photo ID at the polls.

Judge Murphy said he will hear arguments later on whether the law should be in effect in November.

No excuses

New York City Council Member David Yassky does not blame race for his for his failure to win the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat from Brooklyn in Tuesday’s primary.

Mr. Yassky was the only white candidate in a district that is 59 percent black. His candidacy was derided by some black politicians, who objected to his race.

Yvette Clarke, who is also a City Council member, won with 31 percent of the vote to Mr. Yassky’s 26 percent. State Sen. Carl Andrews took 23 percent, and Christopher Owens, son of the retiring incumbent, Rep. Major R. Owens, had 20 percent.

Mr. Yassky said he had not done a “post-mortem” on the campaign, but he would not attribute his loss to the issue of race, the New York Sun reports.

“I don’t think it was one thing,” he said. “The unions played a role. Her base of support in her council district was very strong.”

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

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