- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A mocking video

Rush Limbaugh, on his radio talk show Monday, pointed out that al Qaeda’s No. 2 man, in a videotape, has cited Democratic legislation as “proof of Washington’s defeat.”

“The pull quote in this video is, ‘A U.S. bill calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq is proof of Washington’s defeat.’ No less than bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, suggests that the Democrats’ vote to withdraw troops, limit funding, is proof of Washington’s defeat,” Mr. Limbaugh said.

“And here is the ultimate authority in our defeat, the enemy, the man who’s trying to defeat us. The man who is supposed to be the brain behind bin Laden released a videotape saying that a U.S. bill calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq is proof of Washington’s defeat.

“Now, the question, I guess, that liberals face is this. If you won’t believe me when I tell you that Democrats own defeat when it comes to the Iraq war, who are you going to believe? You have Nancy Pelosi saying it and you have Harry Reid saying we’ve already lost. If that’s not defeat, what is?

“Maybe will you believe Ayman al-Zawahri? Ayman al-Zawahri calls Democrat actions in Washington defeat — not just me. So if you’re in the drive-by media, if you’re a leftist Democrat, who you gonna believe? Pelosi, Reid, me, or Zawahri? Tough call. Al-Qaeda is mocking the Democrats’ white-flag legislation.”

A warning

The ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday warned that congressional critics of aid to Colombia can expect “vigorous resistance” to any attempt to reduce funding for counternarcotics and counterterrorism efforts there or throughout South America.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who visited Colombia with former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, over the weekend, said critics may be readying proposals to make “draconian cuts” in assistance to Colombia when the foreign-assistance appropriation bill is considered by the House in late spring or early summer.

“Attempts to weaken our Andean strategy undercut our fight against drugs that permeate our culture and produce terrible violence in our streets, a deadly struggle in which more Americans die annually than the number who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11,” Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen said.

“End our assistance to Colombia and watch a floodgate of narcotics open up, with the deluge of high-grade heroin and cocaine aimed squarely at our children.”

After a Thursday meeting in Washington withColombian President Alvaro Uribe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed “growing concerns” on the part of Democrats about the serious accusations connecting illegal paramilitary forces with high-ranking Colombian officials.

Pelosi’s gas plan

Congressional Democrats, under pressure from constituents complaining about high gas prices, promise that the Fourth of July will be Energy Independence Day.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats announced yesterday a fight against what they charged was price gouging. The Democrats added that they will hold antitrust hearings about “Big Oil,” reports Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times.

“This Congress, under the Democratic leadership, is working to make up for years of inaction, taking America in a new direction that helps bring down the cost of gas and promotes energy independence,” the California Democrat said.

The average cost for a gallon of gas nationally was $3.04 yesterday.

The House passed a measure within the first 100 hours of business to roll back $14 billion in oil subsidies and use the money to develop alternative energy and biofuels, but the legislation has little chance in the Senate, where Democrats hold just 51 seats and 60 votes are needed to pass anything controversial.

Mrs. Pelosi said yesterday that energy independence is key to bringing prices down. She said the Fourth of July package will include economic incentives to develop and use alternative fuel and will encourage “energy innovation” to create new jobs and help curb emissions.

Research project

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said yesterday that he worked for a hedge fund to learn more about financial markets and their relationship to poverty in the United States.

Mr. Edwards won’t disclose how much he got paid as a consultant to Fortress Investment Group, but said he did keep the money.

“It was primarily to learn, but making money was a good thing, too,” the 2004 vice presidential nominee said in an interview with the Associated Press.

He said the amount he was paid will be revealed when he releases his financial-disclosure forms.

Mr. Edwards said it’s legitimate to ask questions about whether there is a contradiction between campaigning against poverty while working for a hedge fund that is designed to make rich people richer. He said the job complemented his position as the head of a poverty center at the University of North Carolina.

“I didn’t feel like I understand, and to be honest with you, still learning right now, sort of the relationship between that world and the way money moves in this country through financial markets,” Mr. Edwards said.

Mr. Edwards said his role was to advise the firm about what he saw happening economically in the U.S. and during his travels overseas.

Fortress was the single biggest employer of Edwards’ donors during the first three months of the year. Donors who listed “Fortress” as their employer contributed $67,450 to Mr. Edwards’ campaign, and supporters who identified their employer as “Fortress Investment Group” gave $55,200 to the campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Obama’s faux pas

Sen. Barack Obama yesterdaydished out a robust attack on President Bush for the Iraq war, promised universal health care by 2012 and served up a whopper of a faux pas about last weekend’s Kansas tornadoes, the Associated Press reports.

The Democratic presidential candidate, appearing before about 500 people at an art studio in Richmond for a fundraiser, aimed with evangelistic fervor at the Bush White House in a 27-minute speech.

“How could we have been involved in a war that never should have been authorized, that has already cost us half a trillion dollars,” the Illinois senator said, according to the AP.

He drew the loudest ovation of the evening when he said he would “make sure every individual has health care by the end of the next president’s first term, by the end of my first term.”

But minutes later, caught up in his exuberance, Mr. Obama blurted out that 10,000 people had died in twisters that tore through Kansas. The statewide death toll was 12 — 11 of them in the area Greensburg, a small town nearly removed from the map by the twister.

As he concluded his speech, Mr. Obama appeared to realize his error.

“There are going to be times when I get tired. There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes,” he said, according to the AP.

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

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