- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Masters of bad advice
New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, in his farewell address yesterday, said it is a good idea not to take the advice of the New York Times and if he had, the city would be broke.
Mr. Giuliani, in discussing the city budget, recalled that at the beginning of his eight years in office "the monitors in the New York Times editorial board" had urged him to retire long-term debt.
"You should not be so affected by editorial boards, because you should make up your own mind," Mr. Giuliani said. "Now editorial boards have a place and they have a purpose, but they don't really understand the inner workings of government. They don't understand budgets, they really don't understand how you balance the budget, because they don't have to do it. And they certainly don't understand how you balance a $40 billion budget, because they've never had to do anything like that.
"And the reality is that that advice about retiring long-term debt would have resulted in the city being in bankruptcy right now. … What we did, instead of paying off long-term debt, is retire short-term debt. That's why this new mayor inherits a surplus, rather than an immediate-year tremendous gap."

Danger for the GOP
"The next 12 months could be ugly," David Brooks writes in an editorial for the Weekly Standard.
"The political mood is sour. Democrats are going to wage a relentless war on the Bush tax cuts. Tom Daschle looks like Bambi, but he bites like Jaws," Mr. Brooks said.
"The danger for the Republicans is not that the public will abandon conservatism and turn to the Democrats. Voters still have little taste for the orthodox liberalism that the Democratic Party is reverting to.
"Instead, the danger for Republicans is that they will fail to seize the moment. They will sink back into a tawdry corporatism. They will become acquiescent partners in a period of political drift, during which government will grow mindlessly bigger and the current moment of high patriotism will pass, leaving only a sour mood of disenchanted ennui."

The first casualty
"There are many truths that emanate out of Washington, D.C. The most noticeable is that truth is the first casualty in any battle in this city," writes Darryl Jenkins, director the Aviation Institute at George Washington University.
"Let's list the truths that are emerging in the new battle over aviation security. When Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told the truth, saying he would have trouble meeting a Jan. 18 deadline to screen all baggage, he was met with criticism for telling a truth that some did not want to hear.
"The second truth that emerged was that the airlines wanted to put off that same deadline. Their motive was not increased security. They had less lofty goals. Having worked with and observed the airlines for two decades, I have seen them do many silly and uninspired things. This, however, is the third truth. What they were saying is correct. The deadlines had nothing to do with reality, but were drawn up by congressmembers who had no information that would confirm that the changes could be made so swiftly. The date was totally random," Mr. Jenkins said in an "Opposing View" published on USA Today's editorial page, below an editorial that scolded the airlines for seeking to push back deadlines for new security measures.
Mr. Jenkins added: "Congress cannot repeal the laws of gravity or dictate the terms by which things can be realistically completed. It is better to get halfway to a goal and do it right."

About-face
"When last we wrote about the 'bipartisan scandal' known as gerrymandering, we zeroed in on the way it takes competition out of congressional elections," the Wall Street Journal says.
"But it turns out things are worse than we thought: Gerrymandering is even affecting votes in Congress. Witness the ideological pirouette now being performed by California Rep. Ellen Tauscher," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"Ms. Tauscher is a three-term Democrat from the suburbs of San Francisco who won her seat as a moderate free-trader. She became vice chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, chiding her own party's protectionists and voting for several trade accords. Business groups threw their support behind her re-election, along with other 'New Democrats.'
"So they (and we) we were shocked to discover that in the critical vote to grant President Bush trade promotion authority which passed by a single vote Ms. Tauscher cast her lot with the 'nays.'"
The newspaper blamed her sudden switch to the fact that "Liberal line-drawers stretched what had been a compact district all the way to Sacramento County, replacing her swing suburbanites with union members and liberals."
"For Ms. Tauscher, that means that the safest political play now is to repudiate her former principles and become a protectionist. Which is exactly what she's now done."

A heated contest
"In the entire history of New Hampshire politics, not one vote has ever been swayed by what Christopher S. Bond had to say about anything. Nor by what Richard C. Shelby thought on any subject," David M. Shribman writes in the Boston Globe.
"Still, the fact that Sen. Bond, a Missouri Republican, and Sen. Shelby, an Alabama Republican, are backing a challenge to one of their Republican colleagues is more than a curiosity, in Washington if not in New Hampshire. Senators rarely speak ill of their colleagues and almost never support a primary effort to unseat a fellow member of their party," Mr. Shribman said.
"That's only one reason why next November's Senate contest in New Hampshire is likely to be the most heated, most tightly contested political race in the nation.
"The incumbent is Sen. Robert C. Smith, a conservative Republican from Wolfeboro who briefly ran for president in 2000 and left the GOP with a claim that it was 'not a political party that means anything,' only to return to the party fold just in time to claim the chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee. He's being challenged by U.S. Rep. John E. Sununu of Salem, N.H., a quiet three-term lawmaker who has made his mark on budget issues."

Never mind
"When the first Western reporters made it into Kabul after its desertion by the Taliban, BBC senior foreign correspondent John Simpson broke a story that sent shockwaves around the world. In a house formerly used by al Qaeda terrorists, Simpson discovered papers that showed how they had downloaded instructions from the Internet on how to make nuclear weapons" the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) notes.
"But it was an Internet news humor site … that revealed the true provenance of these instructions … [that] had actually been downloaded from the Web site of the Annals of Improbable Research. In 1979, this publication, then called the Journal of Irreproducible Results, published a series of 'how to' parody instructions. The one al Qaeda had found was entitled, 'Let's Build an Atomic Bomb!'"
STATS suggested, as the original Web site did, that Mr. Simpson should have read further down the papers and he would have seen these words: "Previous Months' Columns … 'Let's Make an Anti-Gravity Machine!'"
The above item came from United Press International, one of the few media outlets to pick up on the STATS report.


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