- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

UNSTIMULATING

“What’s odd is that when the stimulus bill was under consideration, the president said there was no time for a real debate. Why the need for speed if the bill wouldn’t begin to take effect for months? This seemed like a rhetorical trick designed to deflect criticism from what was a questionable bill,” Jay Cost writes in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Relatedly, Republican concerns were brushed aside, with the implicit claim that they were rooted in bad faith. The problem with this argument is that the Republican House caucus was unanimously opposed to the bill. … The fact that they were unanimously opposed to the bill suggests that perhaps there was something wrong with it,” Mr. Cost said.

“All in all, the process that produced the stimulus bill was not a good one. Rather than use his enormous political capital to construct a bill designed to confront the economic crisis head-on, the president left its construction mostly up to Congress, which is inclined to particularism and waste. It was then rushed through the legislature without a full review. The opposition to it was painted as politically motivated. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the final product was a bill that will not produce much effect until some time in the future - and now some are calling for a second stimulus.

“Meanwhile, the president and Congress are moving forward carefully and deliberately on health care. There’s a robust debate that includes congressional committees across both chambers, the president, members of both parties, and the public. The president has clearly indicated that this is his top legislative priority, and he intends to do what is necessary to get a good bill that he can sign into law. Over the next few months, Washington’s focus will squarely be on health care, even though it sits well below the economy on lists of public concerns.

“This seems backwards to me. It’s as if the economy was a secondary concern that had to be dealt with quickly so attention could shift to the rest of the president’s domestic agenda.”

DOUBLE STANDARD

“The last time the CIA and Nancy Pelosi were in the news together, the House speaker was accusing the agency of lying about its briefings to Congress on the interrogation of al Qaeda detainees. This week, the speaker’s fellow Democrats are set to block public disclosure of what Mrs. Pelosi was really told and when,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

“Democrats recently marked up the 2010 intelligence bill, and Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra offered an amendment in committee to require the CIA to make public an unclassified version of its records on congressional briefings. It also would have required the CIA to disclose the information gleaned from those interrogations,” the newspaper said.

“Democrats have spent years demanding a ‘truth commission’ into interrogations, so you’d think such public disclosure would be welcome. Ah, that was when a different guy was in the White House and before Mrs. Pelosi had made her own veracity an issue. Suddenly, she’s all for secrecy. And sure enough, Intelligence Committee Democrats lined up to protect their leader and defeated the Hoekstra amendment on a party-line vote. This follows Democratic rejection of a resolution by Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop to initiate a bipartisan investigation of Mrs. Pelosi’s accusation.

“CIA employees weren’t so lucky. Chairman Silvestre Reyes’ Intelligence Committee Democrats passed a new requirement that the CIA videotape all detainee interrogations. This is a sop to the anti-antiterror left, which wants heads to roll because the CIA destroyed tapes of the interrogations of the likes of terrorist Abu Zubaydah. CIA clandestine chief Jose Rodriguez ordered those tapes destroyed precisely because he worried they might leak and compromise U.S. methods. Republicans offered an amendment to strip the videotape provision but lost on another partisan vote.

“This fits the Pelosi policy that the wartime decisions of CIA agents can and will be second-guessed years later, but congressional acquiescence in those decisions is off-limits.”

AMAZING PLOT

“After weeks of efforts to find someone to blame for the post-election insurrection, the Khomeinist regime in Tehran has finally found the ideal culprits: Liz Cheney and George Soros” New York Post columnist Amir Taheri writes.

“Never mind that the financier and Dick Cheney’s daughter are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Tehran propaganda says that they joined to set millions of Iranians marching against the Khomeinist regime.

“A series of ‘exposes’ published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency tells us that this supposed international conspiracy (involving the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and France) started eight years ago with the aim of toppling the Khomeinist regime.

“Tehran’s bizarre narrative goes something like this: During the Bush administration, ‘the neocons’ persuaded the president to ‘green-light’ efforts to topple the regime. Somehow, Washington enlisted the support of ‘world Freemasonry,’ which, acting through the so-called Bilderburg Group, managed to persuade Iran’s then-President [Mohammed] Khatami to join secret efforts to ‘turn Iran into a secular state.’

“Then, the tale goes, Soros and several U.S. think tanks started sending their agents to Iran to recruit and train operatives for regime change. And the Bush administration created a special Iran center in Dubai, modeled on the Riga Center that Washington set up to subvert the Soviet Union in the 1930s. With Liz Cheney as the supposed coordinator, the plot supposedly soon won the support of several European countries.”

DON’T WORRY

Rep. Patrick Murphy has two pieces of advice for his fellow congressmen: Do what’s right, not just what’s political. Oh, and don’t cross him,” Amanda Ruggeri writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“The Pennsylvania Democrat is currently trying to whip up support for H.R. 1283, which would repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ [the policy regarding gays in the military] and he’s working hard on getting the 218 votes it’ll need to pass the House. One of the problems he might run into is the backlash back home. ‘I’m a congressman, but I have some criticisms about Congress. And I think some folks in Congress are afraid of keeping their own seats, and that’s affecting the change that we all know needs to happen in our country,’ says Murphy. He ought to know. Murphy won his seat by just 1,521 votes in 2006.”

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

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