- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2000

Noble: Dick Armey, for making e-freedom a priority. Big government types are always on the prowl for another industry to tax, regulate and destroy, which is why Thomas Jefferson said liberty requires eternal vigilance. This week Rep. Dick Armey, Texas Republican, confirmed his vigilance by laying out concrete ways the Republicans would stop the government from pillaging the Internet. For this he is noble of the week of The Washington Times.

Mr. Armey promised the passage of five bills by the end of May, in what he calls the e-Contract. The first bill passed the House a few hours after Mr. Armey’s announcement a five-year extension to the Internet tax moratorium. The four remaining bills would: abolish the 3 percent excise tax on phone bills (levied on the wealthy in 1898 to finance the Spanish-American War), extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China (to open that market to high-tech and other U.S. businesses), increase the number of visas for high-tech workers by 200,000, and protect the right of hourly workers and others to be paid with stock options.

Unfortunately, some senators and the president have already said five years is too long to wait to tax the Internet which only underscores the importance and the stakes of the fight Mr. Armey is willing to wage.

• Knave: Patrick Kennedy for bringing partisanship into the courtroom with a frivolous lawsuit against Tom DeLay. Politics is often lightheartedly called a racket. But in court, racketeering charges carry a heavy penalty and are no laughing matter. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, is therefore a knave for bringing a frivolous lawsuit against Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

Mr. Kennedy is upset that Mr. DeLay is successfully raising money for the Republicans through three nonprofit organizations. To counter that, Mr. Kennedy has filed charges based entirely on news stories in federal court, under a law written to prosecute mobsters, no less.

Mr. DeLay is no mobster, and Mr. Kennedy is in an awkward position to be calling other people names these days. He recently pushed an airport security guard because his bag was too big for the metal detector; he may soon face battery charges for the assault. The incident was caught on tape and he was forced to apologize.

Likewise Democrats in general aren’t in the best position to charge others with campaign-finance violations. Charles LaBella, a former career prosecutor, said Attorney General Janet Reno should have appointed an independent counsel to investigate possibly illegal campaign contributions made to the Clinton-Gore re-election ticket in 1996.

Perhaps Mr. Kennedy thought he could offset the negative publicity that attended Miss Reno’s work by making false and outrageous charges against Mr. DeLay. But ultimately he will do more damage to his own reputation than to Mr. DeLay’s.

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