- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2001

Beijing's 'real goal'

"In judging this settlement," the editors of National Review write of China's release of 24 American service members, "it is important to keep in mind what China's real goal has been. What China wants to do is to push America out of the South China Sea."

In an online commentary, the editors write: "When Beijing says that the planes collided in Chinese airspace, and Washington responds that they were over international waters, they are not disputing a location. They are disputing a jurisdiction. The Chinese claim the [South China] sea and the sky above it are theirs… .

"Beijing's demand for an apology [for the collision between a Chinese fighter jet and an American surveillance plane] was a provocation dressed up as a protest. To apologize for our surveillance would have been to concede China's territorial claim. And with America out of the South China Sea, Taiwan would be even more vulnerable to Beijing. The Chinese were holding Americans hostage so that they might be able to hold Taiwan hostage later."

Government Inc.

"Government-owned utilities, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, were influential in driving wholesale electricity prices to levels that helped ignite California's exploding energy crisis," Robert J. Lopez and Rich Connell report in the Los Angeles Times.

"For months, Gov. Gray Davis, legislators and consumer advocates have chiefly blamed a few profiteering private power companies for throwing the state into darkness and economic chaos," according to the reporters.

However, a confidential document obtained by the Los Angeles Times "singles out three government-run agencies as consistently trying to inflate [electricity] prices."

The document names the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the federally owned Bonneville Power Administration and BC Hydro, a firm in British Columbia controlled by the Canadian government.

California's Castro?

California's Democrat-controlled legislature "prevented construction of new power plants needed by a fast-growing population; it forced existing utilities to divest their own power plants; and it 'deregulated' by requiring utilities to buy power at market prices but sell it to consumers at government-controlled below-cost regulated prices," Lowell Ponte writes in the online journal Front Page.

"California's Democrat Gov. Gray Davis took more than $1 million in campaign contributions from these utilities, but it is now clear that the Democratic game has been to bankrupt the private utilities to justify their takeover by socialist bureaucrats," Mr. Ponte writes.

"Davis is now using a crisis he and the Democrats played the biggest role in creating as a way to expropriate California's long distance transmission lines, and soon the utility companies themselves, turning them into direct state property much as Fidel Castro did with private property in Cuba."

Blown gaskets

President Bush's conservative policy moves have prompted "apoplexy" among liberals, the Wall Street Journal observes.

"Not bothering to wait for George W. Bush to complete his first 100 days, Beltway liberalism has already blown a gasket," the newspaper says in an editorial, citing over-the-top rhetoric by New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd and Anthony Lewis, as well as by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Does this mean the honeymoon is over?" the Journal asks. "No, because there was probably never any chance of a honeymoon to begin with. The timers on these fusillades were set to trip the moment George Bush did anything reflecting what he said he would do during the campaign."

Pet snake

"To Senate supporters of McCain-Feingold, soft money was like a boa constrictor you let into your house, a vicious creature that strangled the body politic," the Hill newspaper writes in an editorial.

For some, however, the boa constrictor is more like a pet.

During the Senate debate over campaign finance reform, Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, said: "It's too hard for average citizens to be heard. Their voices are drowned out by big money special interests and wealthy contributors."

Despite such rhetoric in support of the McCain-Feingold bill, however, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee of which Mrs. Murray is chairman has already raised $6.2 million in soft money this year, the Hill points out.

"If soft money is the root of political evil, why not swear off it now?" the paper asks. "Government by example is far more effective than government by rhetoric."

No thanks, Jesse

The Bush administration managed to get the 24-member crew of a Navy reconnaissance plane out of China, without help from Jesse Jackson.

Now it's Mr. Jackson, not the new president, "who needs help as never before," Deborah Orin writes in the New York Post.

"Jackson, denied a starring role by President Bush in the delicate diplomatic standoff, is trying to mend his image at a time when he's been badly hurt by revelations that he fathered a love child and made questionable payments to the baby's mom," writes Miss Orin.

Mr. Jackson, who negotiated the release of three U.S. soldiers from Yugoslavia in 1999, offered to fly to China to seek an end to the captivity of the Navy plane's crew. Mr. Bush rejected the offer.

"Bush doesn't like diplomatic free-lancing," Miss Orin writes, and adds: "Another complication is that Jackson loudly and bitterly challenged Bush's legitimacy as president for months after most Democrats accepted it. That hardly makes him a guy Bush could trust on a sensitive mission."

Pill pushers miffed

The budget President Bush sent to Capitol Hill this week eliminates a Clinton-era program that provided prescription contraceptive coverage to federal employees, the Associated Press Reports.

Needless to say, Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Democrat who sponsored the 1998 provision, isn't happy about this.

"I am angered and disappointed by President Bush's decision to eliminate contraceptive coverage for federal employees," said Mrs. Lowey. "President Bush isn't interested in working together. He only wants to satisfy a small but key group of supporters who oppose all contraception as well as abortion."

Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was likewise peeved.

"It is also the height of hypocrisy for a president who opposes a woman's right to choose to also limit women's access to the very thing that prevents unintended pregnancies and makes abortions less necessary," Miss Feldt said.

But Ed Szymkowiak, spokesman for the American Life League a Virginia-based pro-life group praised the Bush move.

"It's a step in the right direction," Mr. Szymkowiak told Judy Holland of Hearst Newspapers. Mr. Szymkowiak said "many of these contraceptive chemicals and devices sometimes act to kill a human person before he or she can implant in his or her mother's womb."

Punch line

On NBC's "Tonight" show, Jay Leno says: "On Sunday, President Clinton dedicated a new school in India and named it after his wife. It's the Hillary Rodham Clinton School. Quite a place. In fact, it's the only school in the world where, when you cheat, they look the other way."

• Robert Stacy McCain can be reached at 202/636-3249 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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