Contract extension

John McCaslin
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Posted: Sep 23, 2004 12:00 AM

A trio of influential former congressmen, Newt Gingrich, Richard Armey and John R. Kasich - among the chief architects of the Republican Party's "Contract With America" 10 years ago - will convene at the American Enterprise Institute Monday morning to discuss an extension of the contract through the 21st century.

Moderating the discussion will be Tony Blankley, editorial-page editor of The Washington Times and former communications director for Gingrich when he was House speaker.

The contract was adopted in 1994 by the Republican majority of the 104th Congress, its aim being to "restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives" through government accountability and efficiency, fiscal responsibility, U.S. sovereignty in national security issues, legal reform, welfare reform, strengthening families and personal responsibility, job creation, and middle-class tax relief.

"There was full legislation for each proposal, not just slogans," Blankley recalled yesterday. "Minute by minute, hour by hour, we were punching away at the world - what I remember being a furious battle to turn the world around."

BLUNT WORDS

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri celebrated a "decade of accomplishments of the House Republican majority" yesterday by criticizing congressional Democrats for being no different than presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry. None has a campaign message that resonates with Americans, he said.

House Democrats, Blunt said, are "frustrated" by their decade in the minority and have "turned to Madison Avenue and Hollywood to help them develop a catchy election-year slogan."

Thus, he said, the 2004 election will come down to Madison Avenue vs. Main Street.

REPUBLICAN BASTION

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, will be happy to learn that his alma mater, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, most likely has the largest club of National Teen Age Republicans (TARS) in America.

"They are certainly among the top, if not the top," says an impressed Barby Wells, TARS' national director.

"We have 223 members out of 420 students at EHS," confirms G. Craig Stewart III, the school's associate director of development who oversees the club. In fact, the Republican club has gained such prominence that recent guest speakers have included CNN political commentator Tucker Carlson, Virginia congressional candidate Lisa Marie Cheney, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and former Rep. Bill Paxon of New York.

"We do election tracking, daily e-mails to our members on election issues, have a presidential debate with the Young Democrats - a small, but lively band at EHS - planned for October, a couple of online polls planned, and other fun and educational activities, including an Election Week Bash," says Stewart.

And it's not all politics.

"Our main community service projects for this year are raising money for the Beslan School Fund and for AIDS awareness, providing hats for Children's Hospital in our Lids For Kids program, and staffing the Northern Virginia Special Olympics in the spring," he says.

Founded in 1839 as the first high school in Virginia, Episcopal was - and still is - known throughout the South as "The High School." When Alexandria was occupied by federal troops in 1861, the school was closed - if for no other reason than because 500 of its students enlisted as Confederate soldiers. For five years, the Yankees used the boarding school as a military hospital.

Since then, the school has produced congressmen, governors, Rhodes scholars and Pulitzer Prize winners.

MIND PIRACY

Is enough being done to protect U.S. innovation abroad?

Congress doesn't think so, and today will take a long-overdue look at "intellectual property" piracy. That's a major area of concern since Americans are the dominant producers of "creations of the mind" - inventions, literary and artistic works, computer software and designs for consumer and industrial products.

All of which, needless to say, drive economic growth.

Such creations are protected from misuse in this country by copyrightOffice of the Trade Representative estimates between $200 billion and $250 billion was lost by U.S. companies to piracy in 2003.

DIFFICULT REQUEST

"You can't raise money if you don't ask for it. Take a deep breath and ask your guests to make a contribution to the Democratic National Committee."

- Fund-raising tip from the Democratic National Committee, forwarded this week to select Democrats who have agreed to host house parties coinciding with the first presidential debate of 2004, to be televised Sept. 30.

BURKETT BROOD

Don't confuse B.G. Burkett, renowned Texas military researcher and Vietnam veteran who has made a career out of uncovering phony military service and heroism, with retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, the disgruntled former Texas National Guardsman who failed miserably in his quest to prove that President Bush shirked responsibilities as a National Guard fighter pilot.

"I've got my sister taking my e-mails (because) they think (he's) me," says Burkett, author of the book "Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History," referring to Col. Burkett, infamous source of now-discredited memos about Bush's military service supplied to CBS News.

In fact, if there are questions about B.G.'s loyalties, he was co-chairman of the Texas Vietnam Memorial when Bush served as honorary chairman, a position Col. Burkett never would have accepted.

Furthermore, when B.G. Burkett became the object of an award-winning television segment recognizing his military research, it was broadcast by ABC - not CBS.

Finally, rest assured, B.G. Burkett and Bill Burkett aren't related.

"My dad's heritage is Polish, and the name used to be spelled B-u-r-c-h-a-t," says B.G. in a telephone interview from Texas. "In Polish, it's pronounced 'Bur-kett,' and the spelling got 'Anglo-nized' " when the family arrived in Canada and later the United States.

PHONY MEDALS?

We originally called on esteemed military researcher B.G. Burkett the other day to help us determine whether a Vietnam veteran who was photographed by The Washington Times at a recent anti-John Kerry rally outside the U.S. Capitol is himself "a fraud," which some make him out to be.

All we needed to do was repeat the name "A.J. Camoesas" (Alfonso Camoesas) of Miami.

"We know he's bogus as hell, a phony," replied Burkett, author of "Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History."

Our photographer had captured "Sgt. Maj. A.J. Camoesas" on Sept. 12 as he rallied with thousands of Vietnam veterans and others who oppose Sen. John Kerry's candidacy for president. In the photo, the elderly vet was wearing a Distinguished Service Cross.

But in an earlier photo, posted by military observers on the Internet, Mr. Camoesas is wearing a Navy Cross in its place.

"Looking at it, he left his Navy Cross at home . . . but this time replaced (it) with a Distinguished Service Cross," writes one observer.

Fred Borch, who claims to be an Army colonel (you can't be certain of anything these days, as Dan Rather knows), writes that he has compiled a "complete list" of all Navy Cross recipients.

"Bottom line: Camoesas did not receive the Navy Cross . . . he never was awarded the Navy Cross," he states.

So far, attempts by this columnist to reach Camoesas have been unsuccessful. A Miami telephone operator said his number was unpublished at the customer's request.

It would appear that Camoesas is a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, that he received one Silver Star for gallantry in Korea in 1951, and might have also received a second Silver Star in Vietnam. As for the Navy Cross?

"For some odd reason, folks who like to falsely claim high decorations seem to have a penchant for claiming they got them while on top-secret missions, while serving in special operations, and that sort of thing, and that the citations are masked," says Col. Borch. "They apparently don't know that even awards (of this caliber) . . . all have unclassified citations."

In conducting his research for "Stolen Valor," Burkett spent more than 10 years examining National Archives records , patent and trademark laws, but overseas piracy and counterfeiting of U.S. inventions and products is rampant. The U.S. and filed hundreds of requests for military documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Subsequently, he "uncovered a massive distortion of history . . . toppled national political leaders and put criminals in jail," according to the book.

And such claims of high military decorations aren't confined to service in Vietnam.

"Everybody thinks overblown claims (of military service and heroism) arose during the Vietnam War, but in truth it was much more prevalent after World War II," Burkett tells The Beltway Beat. "The difference is that nobody ever brought it up then, because they didn't have the Internet and other ways to check on the validity."