- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Another bailout plea
"Democrats and the New York Times have been trying mightily to establish some guilt-by-association link between George W. Bush and those hapless tycoons at Enron," Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan writes.
"Not much luck there. Ken Lay called the government for help, but the Bush administration didn't answer," Mr. Melloan said.
"Now, there is another tycoon on the phone yelping for a taxpayer bailout. If George Bush decides to gratify his demands, there will be no complaints from the Dems. Quite the contrary. The tycoon is U.S. Steel CEO Thomas J. Usher and he will have plenty of Democrats backing him up. Indeed, the spokesman for his lobby is former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart.
"Mr. Usher's demands on the American taxpayer are limited, but only in the sense that a limited amount of water flows over Niagara Falls every day. All he wants is for the federal government to take over the retiree pension and health insurance obligations of the big integrated steel producers, so that U.S. Steel can buy up its competitors free of those burdens. That will only cost $12 billion or so, admittedly cheap compared to what it might have took to make Enron whole.
"But there's another demand, for new tariffs of up to 40 percent on 16 types of imported steel. That one gets a bit expensive. It will raise the price of steel to U.S. manufacturers, making them vulnerable to further market inroads from foreign competitors. It also will raise the hackles of U.S. trading partners, giving them justification to retaliate against U.S. products."

Krugman's cronyism
The Enron scandal is coming back to haunt the New York Times, according to Mark Steyn, a columnist for the National Post, a Canadian newspaper.
"Last week, a gazillion paragraphs deep into a [long] roundup of developments in the 'rapidly exploding' scandal, the Times confirmed that in 1999 its star economics columnist Paul Krugman had received $50,000 for serving on Enron's advisory board. What did this board do? 'This was an advisory panel that had no function that I was aware of,' said the columnist. 'My later interpretation is that it was all part of the way they built an image. All in all, I was just another brick in the wall.' When in trouble, reach for the Pink Floyd songbook," Mr. Steyn said.
"Mr. Krugman, an economics prof at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been one of the media's most ferocious Bush bashers and, since Enron went belly up, a tireless peddler of Bush-Enron linkage. Indeed, he has written about little else in recent weeks, always interpreting the scandal in line with his long-held beliefs about greedy plutocrats, slavering Republicans on the teats of their big donors, and helpless little guys getting stiffed by both. Why, there he was only [Jan. 15] in a column on 'Crony Capitalism, USA,' demanding to know 'Why did the Administration dissemble so long about its contacts with Enron?'
"Short answer: They didn't, you did.
"The man who sneers at the malign influence of Enron money on Republican politicians or, as he calls them 'the people Enron put in the White House' has received more money from Enron than any member of the House of Representatives. If he were in the Senate, where 71 of 100 members have been endowed with Enron moolah, he would rank in that crowded field as the third-biggest beneficiary of the company's generosity. And, whereas the pols' Enron take was stretched out over several election cycles, Professor Krugman got his nice, clean $50,000 in one year. Yet, while he takes it [for granted] that Enron's cheques to Dub and Dick and Senator Sleazebag and Congressman Forsale were in return for something, in his case, he assures us, it was a big fat cheque for nothing. So that's OK."

Home again
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who for about 18 months was the nation's only governor to reside in a mobile home, moved back into the Executive Mansion before Christmas without public notice.
"I would do it again in a New York minute," first lady Janet Huckabee said Monday. "Manufactured housing has so improved. I didn't have any problems."
The Huckabees moved into the 2,131-square-foot, "triplewide" in July 2000 so the mansion in Little Rock could undergo a $12 million renovation and expansion.
The governor went along with plenty of jokes including several late-night TV jabs when the first family adopted the temporary dwelling.
Before moving in, the first lady insisted the triplewide was not a trailer. "Trailers are pulled behind a pickup truck. We are not having a trailer on the mansion grounds," she said.
The new home included a master suite with private bath, a big kitchen that opens into a family room and a wet bar. The governor, a Baptist preacher, put the latter to more modest use, the Associated Press reports.
The state Manufactured Home Association, a lobbying group, donated use of the $110,000 Huckabee home. The association also donated a second, smaller, mobile home for use as an office.

Wooing Lazio
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has been talking with Rick Lazio about challenging incumbent Democrat Steve Israel for Mr. Lazio's old seat in Long Island, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Lazio did not return repeated calls seeking comment, the wire service said. Mr. Lazio's Web site says "it is not a decision that a conscientious life-long public servant makes lightly."
After losing the Senate race in 2000 to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Lazio took a job as president and CEO of the Financial Services Forum, a public-policy group that represents such companies as Citigroup, the Bank of New York, the Goldman Sachs Group, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and American Express.
"He's quite happy where he is," said Andrew Siben, a friend and spokesman. "And he's able to spend more time with his family." Mr. Lazio, 43, has two daughters in elementary school.

War fever
More than two-thirds of Americans favor expanding the use of force in the anti-terror campaign beyond Afghanistan to other countries, including Iraq, according to a new poll.
Nine in 10 said they think more military force is needed, even if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. And from two-thirds to three-fourths supported military action against other countries, such as Somalia, Sudan and Iraq, the Associated Press reports.
"Even though we've had a quick victory in Afghanistan, the public is prepared for more war," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.
But the poll also suggested support would fade if the United States acts alone.
More than half of those who favored taking military action against Iraq said the United States should take that step only if its allies agreed. Older Americans felt that way by a 2-to-1 margin.
The poll of 1,201 adults was conducted Jan. 9-13 in cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations. It had an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The poll also found that support for military action in Iraq dips from 73 percent to 56 percent when the possibility of thousands of U.S. casualties is mentioned. More than six in 10 said they are worried there will soon be another terrorist attack on this country.

Unbiased reporting?
"[Yesterday], NPR announced that the National Organization for Women were holding a demonstration in support of Roe vs. Wade in front of the Supreme Court," pundit Andrew Sullivan writes at his Web site (www.andrewsullivan.com).
"No mention of any other demonstrations whatsoever. But, hey, no decent people oppose Roe, do they?"


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