- The Washington Times - Friday, August 28, 2009

WAR ON CIA

“There is now just one group of people exempt from President Obama’s worldwide ban on torture: the men and women of the CIA,” Herbert Meyer writes at www. americanthinker.com.

“By authorizing Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether a full criminal investigation of CIA employees and contractors is warranted for the manner in which they interrogated captured terrorists, the president has thrown his power and support behind those far-left ideologues - in Congress and elsewhere - who believe that the CIA is a bigger threat to our country than al Qaeda,” Mr. Meyer said.

“I know the men and women of the CIA - I had the honor of working with them during the Reagan Administration - and they would rather have their fingernails pulled out with pliers or have holes drilled into their knees (neither of which they did to captured terrorists, as the Justice Department’s hot-shot investigators will learn) than be thought of as anything other than honorable patriots doing their best, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to protect our country from its enemies. It will be excruciating for them to face their colleagues each morning under the strain of looming criminal prosecutions that will destroy their careers and deplete their meager savings accounts - and, even worse, to come home to their families each evening with the stench of President Obama’s contempt for their honor in the air.

“By launching this latest attack on the CIA, the president has done more than merely throw a bone to his base. He has removed all remaining doubt about how the U.S. now plans to confront the global threat of radical Islam.”

CUTTING MEDICARE

“Two weeks ago, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod said in a now legendary ‘viral’ e-mail that, ‘It’s a myth that health insurance reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits,’ ” Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“This was sent out the day before Mr. Obama told a Montana town hall that he’d pay for health-care reform by ‘eliminating … about $177 billion over 10 years’ for ‘what’s called Medicare Advantage.’ And it was two days before Mr. Obama told a Colorado town hall he’d cover ‘two-thirds’ of the ‘roughly $900 billion’ of his plan’s cost by ‘eliminating waste,’ again citing Medicare Advantage,” said Mr. Rove, who was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush.

“Who’s right? As a former senior adviser, I can tell you who: the president. What’s more, according to a White House fact sheet titled ‘Paying for Health Care Reform,’ Mr. Axelrod was misleading his readers. It notes the administration would cut $622 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, with a big chunk coming from Medicare Advantage, to pay for overhauling health care. Mr. Obama heralded these cuts as ‘common sense’ in his June 13 radio address.

“Medicare Advantage was enacted in 2003 to allow seniors to use Medicare funds to buy private insurance plans that fit their needs and their budgets. They get better care and better value for their money.

“Medicare Advantage also has built-in incentives to encourage insurers to offer lower costs and better benefits. It’s a program that puts patients in charge, not the government, which is why seniors like it and probably why the administration hates it.

“Already, an estimated 10.2 million seniors - one out of five in America - have enrolled in Medicare Advantage. Mr. Obama is proposing to cut the program by nearly 20 percent and thus reduce the amount of money each will have to buy insurance. This will likely force most of them to lose the insurance they have now. Yet Mr. Obama promised in late July in New Hampshire that, ‘if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan.’ ”

MANEUVERING

Ted Kennedy’s death was one of those rare events that can pause politics - but nothing can stop politics. Massachusetts now has an open Senate seat for the first time in 25 years, and the maneuvering over his succession has already begun,” Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald writes at www.time.com.

“The first question is when that succession will happen. A 2004 law calls for the seat to remain vacant until an election in five months. At the time the law was formulated, the Democratic-dominated legislature wanted to prevent then governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican if Sen. John Kerry became president. But before his death, Kennedy proposed that Gov. Deval Patrick be allowed to appoint an interim senator who pledged not to seek the seat permanently. [On Thursday], Patrick endorsed the idea of changing the law to make sure that his state maintains full representation - and that Democrats maintain 60 votes in the Senate. The state House speaker signaled his agreement.

“Democrats still control Beacon Hill, and the Democrats who now control Washington fear that the loss of their filibuster-proof majority will imperil Kennedy’s cherished cause of health-care reform. But a new law to arrange a senatorial temp is not a done deal. For one thing, the state Senate president, though a Democrat, is not close to Patrick. It’s not even clear that a flip-flopping political power play to install an interim appointee - the name of former governor Michael Dukakis has popped up - would help pass health-care reform. Democrats on Capitol Hill might be better off keeping Kennedy’s seat empty - and then using the sympathy generated by his death as an excuse to ram through health-care legislation by majority vote.”

DUKAKIS’ CHANCE

“If Massachusetts changes its Romney-era law forbidding the governor to appoint a temporary successor to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a few prospects stand out,” the Atlantic magazine’s Marc Ambinder writes in a blog at theatlantic.com.

“Temporary appointments can be dangerous for those doing the appointing, particularly when the new guy or gal is replacing beloved, respected politicians. It is tempting to ‘promote’ an up-and-coming pol from your own party - this is what Gov. Charlie Crist might do when he announces Mel Martinez’s temp [Friday] - but Kennedy’s legacy demands a different type of appointment. That’s why the smart money is on former Gov. Michael Dukakis, or someone of his stature, who needs no education in the ways of policy and the Senate, and who would spend his five months faithfully tending to the senator’s concerns and interests - health care reform being paramount. (It’s not clear to me whether the late Kennedy’s wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wants to serve in this capacity, although she, too, would bring stature.)”

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

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