- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Et tu, ACLU?

Things are fractious indeed at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). More than 30 longtime ACLU heavyweights are calling for the ouster of the organization’s leadership, claiming it failed to uphold “principles” it inflicts upon everyone else.

“We come together now, reluctantly but resolutely, not to injure the ACLU, but to restore its integrity and its consistency of principle,” the group of former board members, staffers, donors and a lawyer said in a mission statement, according to the New York Times yesterday.

The group is irked that the ACLU checked its staffers against government lists of suspected terrorists during a fundraising drive, used data-mining to profile donors and planned to monitor staff e-mails. Criticism has been focused on Executive Director Anthony Romero and board President Nadine Strossen.

“It’s clear that the organization’s leadership has let it drift away from its core principles,” said David Goldberger, an Ohio State University law professor who once defended the right of Nazis to march through a Jewish suburb of Chicago.

An ACLU spokeswoman says the group still fights “aggressively for the principles of free speech.” The disgruntled protesters are certainly exercising theirs: They have set up a Web site — www.savetheaclu.org — which went live yesterday.

“It is a home for ACLU loyalists who have been shut out of the organization,” said Ira Glasser, ACLU director from 1978 to 2001.

Round two

In the big Wallace vs. Bubba match this weekend, “Fox News Sunday” garnered its best ratings in three years, according to Nielsen, and the two combatants — host Chris Wallace and former President Bill Clinton — got a lot of buzz. Both political parties now claim the squabble “energized” their respective bases.

The match even attracted those who make wagers.

BetCRIS Sportsbook has posted the odds on whether Mr. Clinton will duke it out again with Mr. Wallace. The New York-based online betting group reveals that odds are running 4-to-1 that Mr. Clinton will return for another bout in the next 90 days, 3-to-1 in the next 120 days, 2-to-1 within 150 days and 1-to-1 within the next six months.

“Politicians are trained in the art of keeping cool and levelheaded,” spokesman Mickey Richardson said. “When the opportunity arises to watch a former president become so easily roused, you can’t help but stare. I would like to see him go head-to-head with Chris Wallace again. I just don’t think he will.”

Moral relativism

The Republican candidate for Arizona governor says the state’s new September 11 memorial should be torn down, calling it an insult to America.

“It reminds us of American failings and American mistakes, real and imagined, before and after 9/11. This memorial is a tribute to moral relativism,” Len Munsil said yesterday, according the Associated Press.

The memorial features such quotations as, “You don’t win battles of terrorism with more battles” and “Erroneous U.S. air strike kills 46 Afghanistan civilians,” among other things.

“Only in the relativistic context of left-wing protesters holding ‘Bush is a terrorist’ signs do such inscriptions make any sense,” said Mr. Munsil, founder of the Center for Arizona Politics.

“It explains why despite the outpouring of public prayer and the bipartisan singing of ‘God Bless America’ on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, there is not a single mention of God in this memorial,” Mr. Munsil said.

“I’m just sorry that they’re trying to politicize 9/11. That’s just wrong,” Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano said.

Adios, Republicans?

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says neither party will win votes at the ballot box this year on the issue of illegal border crossing.

“You don’t get any votes on this either way,” Mr. Richardson said during a meeting with the press in Washington yesterday, reports The Washington Times’ Eric Pfeiffer. “In the end, voters look at bread-and-butter issues.”

Mr. Richardson, a Democrat who is Hispanic and considering a run for the White House in 2008, said that any potential gains for Republicans will be offset by Hispanic voters who feel alienated by the party and an overall “2 percent surge” at the ballot box in the favor of Democrats over issues such as Iraq.

President Bush did make some inroads with Hispanics in 2004,” Mr. Richardson said. “The surge in Hispanics going Republican was because of President Bush, not because of any policies.”

Mr. Richardson also said he doesn’t expect immigration opponents to reward Republicans this fall, since Congress is not likely to pass an immigration-reform bill before it leaves Washington for the campaign trail. “When you control the White House and Congress, you only have one party to blame,” he said.

Taxing situation

Rep.Charles B. Rangel of New York, the top Democrat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said yesterday he wouldn’t rule out killing any of President Bush’s tax cuts in order to alleviate the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax and balance the budget, Congress Daily reported.

Mr. Rangel stipulated that “everything has to be on the table” when considering which tax cuts must go, and when asked if he’d consider tax increases across the income spectrum, he answered, “No question about it.”

His remarks caused an immediate outburst among Republicans, claiming the Democrat had just admitted his party will indeed raise taxes if it comes to power in November.

“This is the first time since Walter Mondale that a national Democrat leader has openly called for across-the-board tax hikes,” said Jonathan Collegio of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “In a single breath, Rangel made the notion of a Democrat Congress into a profoundly local pocketbook issue.”

A Kinky moment

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is campaigning for Kinky Friedman, who aspires to be the first independent candidate to win the Texas governorship since Sam Houston 150 years ago.

“Do Texans have the guts to elect this guy?” Mr. Ventura asked a raucous San Antonio crowd yesterday.

“Texans love the Kinkster,” Mr. Friedman chimed in, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The two swaggering politicos have both received campaigning advice from Dean Barkley and Bill Hillsman, who created ads for Mr. Ventura and the late Paul Wellstone.

“Kinky’s a great campaigner. Better than Jesse,” Mr. Barkley said.

“Both Kinky and I shoot from the hip,” Mr. Ventura countered, brandishing his newly brunette, shoulder-length braids. “But I’m the only former governor in the United States of America who can look like this.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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