- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mumms is on ice

“Please accept this bottle of champagne as a token of our esteem for your effort to move the dialogue away from privatization and towards the issue of solvency — which privatization does not address.”

So reads the note attached to a bottle of Andre champagne, shipped this week to Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, compliments of Brad Woodhouse, who left the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to become spokesman for Americans United to Protect Social Security.

Our first question to Mr. Woodhouse yesterday: “Couldn’t you guys do better than a bottle of Andre?” (Andre Champagne Extra Dry: $3.49)

“Maybe when President Bush pulls his privatization plan off the table we can send a good bottle to the senator. What’s a good one, Mumms?” asks Mr. Woodhouse. “Two weeks ago, we didn’t have carpet in this office. Our desks look a little bit better than sawhorses.”

Not for lack of support.

The new nonprofit grass-roots organization, operating with millions of dollars in seed money and contributions from the likes of the AFL-CIO and everyday Americans, is led by Democratic campaign veterans Paul Tewes, former political director of the DSCC, and Steve Hildebrand, who didn’t fare as well running the unsuccessful 2004 re-election campaign of former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Americans United is buoyed of late by a still-emerging split in the Republican Party over Mr. Bush’s Social Security partial-privatization drive.

“I am not surprised,” says Mr. Woodhouse. “When people hear the pros and cons of Social Security privatization they react negatively to the president’s proposal. Social Security represents the foundation of retirement security for most Americans, and it should be shored up, rather than replaced with a privatization scheme that is really untried and untested — and which would require steep benefit cuts and massive new national debt and … an almost certain additional tax burden on Americans.”

Nation’s nurse

It’s back to work for Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who tells Inside the Beltway she’s joining Hill & Knowlton’s Washington office as senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice.

(But not before we found her at home yesterday preparing a London broil and bean- soup lunch for 20 teenagers attending her daughter’s 17th birthday party).

“I want to be where the action is,” says Mrs. Lieberman, who hopes to draw on her political experience in concentrating on health care policy and public health initiatives. Since the 2004 presidential campaign, she’s remained active on the speakers’ circuit addressing women’s health and politics.

Wrought with fraud

A Republican congressman wants to stop the Visa Lottery program, the annual lottery established by Uncle Sam in 1990, whereby 50,000 foreign nationals are chosen at random to enter the United States and become permanent residents.

Virginia Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte says the program poses national security risks and is wrought with fraud. He’s not alone in his concerns.

The State Department’s inspector general issued a scathing report in 2003, warning that the lottery “contains significant threats to national security from entry of hostile intelligence officers, criminals and terrorists” and is “subject to widespread abuse.”

And get this — the IG found during the 2003 lottery process that 364,000 duplicate applications were submitted by foreign nationals.

Broadcasting again

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded a grant to veteran Washington broadcaster and former Ambassador Richard W. Carlson, vice chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), to develop a television documentary series examining the global war on terrorism.

Mr. Carlson says the series, co-produced with FDD senior fellow Barbara Newman, will explore intelligence and special-operations efforts to fight terrorism here and abroad. One segment will investigate the terror group Hezbollah and its activities in more than a dozen American cities.

The grant was awarded under PBS’ America at a Crossroads initiative, which will provide up to $20 million over the next three years to those who wish to develop and broadcast films on the challenges America faces in the wake of September 11.

A former ambassador under President Reagan, Mr. Carlson is a past director of Voice of America and was president and CEO of the CPB.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndi cated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin

@washingtontimes.com.