- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Wait a minute. … Isn’t the script supposed to be, “Republican accuses Democrats of being un-American; Democrats express outrage at McCarthyism”?

Not in Northern Virginia, notes Jim Geraghty of National Review’s Campaign Spot blog.

“Hey, if you don’t think it’s a good idea to bring Khalid [Shaikh Mohammed] to New York City for a civilian trial, you’re not just wrong, you’re ‘un-American.’ Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Northern Virginia, says so,” Mr. Geraghty wrote.

Mr. Geraghty linked to an account at Talking Points Memo describing Mr. Moran’s support for the plan to try Mohammed and four other Muslim radicals suspected in the Sept. 11 attacks and his attacks on critics of the plan.

“They see this as an opportunity to demagogue. They will seize on any opportunity to do that, and that means they’ll even take a stand that’s un-American,” the Democrat said. “It’s un-American to hold anyone indefinitely without trial. It’s against our principles as a nation.”

Mr. Geraghty’s post also provided a quote from Matthew Berry, Mr. Moran’s Republican rival, criticizing the congressman for demagoguery and lack of historical knowledge.

“It is wrong for Congressman Moran to question the patriotism of the millions of Americans who believe that terrorists such as Khalid [Shaikh] Mohammed should be tried by military commissions rather than in civilian courtrooms. Furthermore, Congressman Moran’s comment reflects a basic ignorance of American history. Military commissions were used to try war crimes during the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II. The use of a military commission to try Khalid [Shaikh] Mohammed would have been entirely in keeping with American history and tradition,” Mr. Berry said.


Hot Air had the scoop Monday morning.

Two conservative groups are demanding an investigation of the president of one of America’s biggest and most powerful unions on claims he has been working as an unregistered lobbyist.

“Americans for Tax Reform and the Alliance for Worker Freedom will deliver a letter to both chambers of Congress and to US Attorney Channing Phillips in Washington DC, demanding a federal investigation of Andrew Stern, president of the [Service Employees International Union]. They will claim that Stern, who stopped registering as a federal lobbyist in 2007, has continued his lobbying efforts. They claim to have compiled evidence of Stern’s lobbying from the recently released White House visitor logs, media reports — and Stern’s own Twitter feed, in what has to be a first for the social networking service,” Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey wrote in anticipation of Monday morning’s filing.

The conservative groups acknowledge that the available public information does not reveal all of Mr. Stern’s activities or how much time he spent lobbying — a key requirement in the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act definition of a lobbyist.

“Nevertheless, the limited public record that is available indicates that Mr. Stern appears to have met the LDA definition of being a lobbyist by spending at least 16 days during the second calendar quarter lobbying dozens of officials and being the White House’s most frequent visitor,” the filing says, citing White House visitor logs showing that Mr. Stern visited the White House 22 times in seven months.

One particular piece of evidence is Mr. Stern’s Twitter feed, which uses the key term: “Lobbying with Mayor Bloomberg on health care. Leaving Senator [Olympia] Snowe. Mayor big proponent of keeping people healthy and the right public plan.”

In an e-mail to Amanda Carpenter, a reporter with The Washington Times, SEIU spokesman Michelle Ringuette dismissed the request as “a weak shot across the bow.”

“Even a cursory knowledge of federal lobbying requirements dispels this latest attempt to prevent working people from having a say in health insurance reform,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Andy Stern spends less than 20 percent of his time talking to elected representatives; he spends 100 percent of his time trying to help workers get a better life.”


Conservative blog queen Michelle Malkin noted another bit of news involving the Service Employees International Union — that one of its local branches publicly threatened to sue to stop a Pennsylvania Boy Scout from cleaning up a park pathway.

“Hey, you know all that high-minded talk from President Obama about calling young people to serve their country? Well, if it conflicts with Big Labor’s interests, children, there’s a new message: Knock it off! The Purple Shirted-thugs of the Service Employees International Union — ACORN’s alter ego and [President] Obama’s most frequent visitor — are going after an Eagle Scout who poses a threat to their workers because he’s volunteering too much,” Mrs. Malkin wrote, linking to an account in the Allentown Morning Call that reads:

“In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park. … Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park. ‘We’ll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails,’ Balzano told the council.”

At the weekend, according to reporter Jarrett Renshaw, Mr. Balzano somewhat backed off going after the Scout: “Balzano said Saturday the union is still looking into the matter and might cut the city a break. ‘We are probably going to let this one go,’ Balzano said.” But the union president reiterated that the city’s July decision to lay off 39 SEIU members means “there’s to be no volunteers” to do this kind of work in the future.

New type of car tax

This being a political column, we don’t visit automobile sites too much, but one that was brought to our attention accused New York state of a surreptitious tax increase.

Jonny Lieberman of Autoblog asked in his headline whether New York was “hiding tax increase behind throwback license plates?” Mr. Lieberman wrote that the new blue-and-yellow plates aren’t bad and are an improvement over “the current drab white and blue plates.”

“However, 57,000 people have already filed a petition at a website called nonewplates.com. … What gives?

“You, the taxpayer, that’s what. New Yorkers are required to get the new plates. And they cost $25. Want to keep your same license plate number so you don’t have to call and fuss with your insurance company? Or let’s say you want to hang onto an existing vanity plate? That’s going to cost you an extra $20. So if you have three vehicles and are happy with your numbers, these new plates will set you back $135. Out here in the Golden State, we’ve tossed people from office (hello Gray Davis!) for similar antics.

“Just sayin’. All in all, the new plate is expected to rake in $129 million for the state of NY and they drop in April, just in time for tax season,” he concluded.

Victor Morton may be reached at [email protected]

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