- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007

Talking loudly

Radio host Laura Ingraham raked conservative leader Grover Norquist over the coals yesterday after he called opponents of the Senate immigration bill “a handful of loud people who talk about it loudly.”

“You’re quoted in The Washington Times, and I wanted to give you a chance to respond to this,” Miss Ingraham told Mr. Norquist, referring to yesterday’s article by reporters Jon Ward and Ralph Z. Hallow, which quoted Mr. Norquist saying, “Mass deportations? People don’t want that. You should speak to the American people, not to radio talk-show hosts.”

Mr. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, denied supporting the Senate bill. “I’m not at all a fan of this piece of legislation. … I have not endorsed the bill,” he said.

Later in their on-air interview, after Mr. Norquist expressed concern about Republican opponents of the Senate bill “being anti-immigrant,” Miss Ingraham asked, “Grover, do you have any data on, predictions or data or analysis on why 12 million people — most of them who don’t have a high school education — why these people are all of the sudden going to be voting for the great tax reform ideas that you guys push at the Americans for Tax Reform?”

“Well, I think there are two things. One is I’m not quite sure of the timetable that they’re looking at getting people to be [citizens] and voting. That is certainly a separate question,” Mr. Norquist said, later adding, “We just need to make sure that there is plenty of opportunity and very little welfare.”

Using Hillary

Republicans are using Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise money for the national party.

“Do you think Hillary Clinton knows how to spend your money better than you do?” RNC Chairman Mike Duncan asked in a recent fundraising e-mail, first reported on blog Fishwrap at WashingtonTimes.com.

The RNC was blasting the New York Democrat and presidential candidate’s recent talk on President Bush’s “ownership society.” “What’s Hillary’s prescription? More government rules and regulations, and higher taxes on everybody. There is nothing ‘fair’ about it,” the e-mail reads, adding: “Don’t let Hillary get hold of your life savings.”

The RNC criticism wasn’t reserved exclusively for the former first lady: “Everything we have accomplished together will be overturned if a liberal Democrat like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards is elected president in 2008. We need your help to stop the left-wing’s agenda for our country.”

Tone of intolerance

“A strange thing happened to me the day the House of Representatives voted to pass the Iraq war funding bill,” Time magazine columnist Joe Klein writes.

Congresswoman Jane Harman of California called as the debate was taking place. ‘Look, I would love to have cast a vote against Bush on this,’ she told me. ‘We need a new strategy, and I hope we can force one in September. But I flew into Baghdad [with 150 young soldiers recently]. To vote against this bill was to vote against giving them the equipment … they need. I couldn’t do that.’ I posted what Harman said on Swampland, the political blog at Time.com, along with my opinion that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had changed their positions and voted against the funding for the worst possible reason: presidential politics,” Mr. Klein said.

“And then Harman changed her position. After we spoke, she voted against the funding. The next day, I was blasted by a number of left-wing bloggers: Klein screwed up! I had quoted Harman in the past tense — common usage for politicians who know their words will appear after a vote takes place. That was sloppy and … suspicious! Proof that you just can’t trust the mainstream media. On Eschaton, a blog that specializes in media bashing, I was given the coveted ‘Wanker of the Day’ award.

“Eventually, Harman got wind of this and called, unbidden, to apologize for misleading me, saying I had quoted her correctly but she had changed her mind to reflect the sentiments of her constituents. I published her statement and still got hammered by bloggers and Swampland commenters for ‘stalking’ Harman into an apology, for not checking her vote in the Congressional Record, for being a ‘water boy for the right wing’ and many other riffs unfit to print.”

Citing some bloggers he admires, Mr. Klein added, “But the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn’t move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed — especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable.”

Frozen assets

A federal judge yesterday froze the assets of Rep. William J. Jefferson, Louisiana Democrat, who was indicted this week on charges of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

Among the 16 criminal counts Mr. Jefferson is facing is a criminal forfeiture count, and prosecutors have already said they will seek to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr. Jefferson that they believe he obtained illicitly by peddling his influence to help broker business deals in Africa.

Mr. Jefferson is scheduled to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court, the Associated Press reports.

The restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III lists two savings accounts with Dryades Savings Bank and Chevy Chase Bank with a combined value of more than $470,000, plus certain stock holdings that Mr. Jefferson is barred from liquidating.

Johnson’s return

Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat, recovering from a brain hemorrhage he suffered in December, is likely to return to the Senate in September, if not earlier, Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday.

Mr. Reid, of Nevada, said Mr. Johnson undergoes physical and speech therapy five days a week and has recovered 90 percent of his speech, although his right side remains weak.

“He and his family and the doctors are trying to decide whether he will come back in September or July, but he’s really doing quite well,” Mr. Reid said.

Julianne Fisher, Mr. Johnson’s spokeswoman, said no deadline has been set for Mr. Johnson to return to his duties, the Associated Press reports. “We are letting his doctors take the lead. He’s getting stronger and stronger every day, but we don’t have a definitive date,” she said.

Mr. Johnson, 60, was rushed to the hospital Dec. 13 after becoming disoriented during a phone call with reporters. Hours later, he underwent emergency surgery and was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a condition that causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.

Hard times

As if Sen. Lindsey Graham doesn’t have enough trouble in defending his support for an immigration bill described by critics as “amnesty,” radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh now refers to the South Carolina Republican as “Lindsey Grahamnesty.”

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

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