- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2002

A dangerous vote

Robert E. Lighthizer, a trade lawyer who was a deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration, thinks House Republicans made a big mistake in pushing through trade-promotion authority for the president.

Mr. Lighthizer fears that the legislation which passed by a single vote will cost Republicans control of the House in the November elections, at a time, he added, when the necessity for "fast-track" appears to be waning.

"Robin Hayes and Cass Ballenger, for example, are both Republicans from highly competitive districts in North Carolina. Their districts have many voters who work in textiles an industry in which much production has shifted to plants and manufacturers outside the United States. Both vowed to vote no and changed their minds under White House pressure. Their votes are sure to be used against them by Democratic opponents," Mr. Lighthizer said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.

"Republicans whose seats may become less secure because of redistricting including several in New York, North Carolina, Iowa, Oklahoma and Georgia could find their votes in favor of trade-promotion authority extremely damaging. And in states like Kentucky, Florida and Pennsylvania that have been hard-hit by trade-related job losses, Republican incumbents may find that a vote in favor of fast-track trade authority does not mix well with a slowing domestic economy.

"And the fight is not over. The Senate will almost certainly make changes to the trade bill, and a new version drafted in a conference committee is likely to go before the House in the midst of the congressional election campaign. Not only will this be another excruciating vote for House Republicans, but the measure could easily lose its one-vote majority the next time around."


Swift's running mate

Massachusetts acting Gov. Jane Swift picked an openly homosexual staff member who has served as legislator and suburban mayor as her running mate in the 2002 election.

Mrs. Swift, 36, announced her selection of Patrick C. Guerriero yesterday.

"It is a great challenge to be your running mate and I accept it," Mr. Guerriero said.

Mr. Guerriero will challenge millionaire James Rappaport, the former state GOP chairman and the only declared Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, in the September primary.

Mrs. Swift had publicly stated she does not want to run with the more conservative Mr. Rappaport, citing personality differences. She took a jab at him at yesterday's news conference, saying she was happy to be running with someone who never lost an election. Mr. Rappaport was defeated by Sen. John Kerry in the 1990 race for Senate.

Mr. Guerriero, an advocate for homosexual rights, works on the governor's staff as a liaison with municipal officials, and helped persuade Mrs. Swift to delay cuts in local aid last year. He served as mayor in the Boston suburb of Melrose and three terms in the state House.


Kyoto skepticism

"It's worth noting that it's not just the Japanese [or the Americans] who now have serious reservations about [the] Kyoto [global warming treaty]. As my colleagues Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon recently pointed out, Kyoto skepticism is sweeping the globe like Pokemon," writes Nick Schultz, editor of TechCentralStation.com.

"Politicians and business leaders in Canada, Germany, and New Zealand have taken measure of the costs involved and are now much less enthusiastic about the treaty. Why? To give just one example, New Zealand's Institute of Economic Research recently estimated that by 2016, the Kiwi GDP would be 18 percent lower than it would have been without the Kyoto emission cuts," Mr. Schultz said in a guest column at the National Review Web site (www.nationalreview.com).

"Of course, all of the growing and prudent international concern over the economic consequences of Kyoto would be irrelevant if sound science demonstrated that human-induced climate change was a threat requiring the submission of scores of nations to an intricate energy-regulation scheme. But it doesn't.

"If 2001 was good for anything, it was for reminding the United States that what the world needs is critical thinking about the genuine threats posed to humanity and that the world will follow if the U.S. has the courage to lead. It usually takes some time for a flawed conventional wisdom to be unmasked. After all, the Japanese are still considering voluntary cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions not because they fear for the environment, but because they fear retribution from Kyoto proponents in Europe, who might punish them with economic boycotts. Nonetheless, Japan's decision to follow the U.S. and put sound economics over shoddy environmental science will help make for a happy new year."


Preposterous reply

"So now we get it. The reason there's a dangerous 11 percent vacancy rate in the federal judiciary is Osama bin Laden. Why didn't we think of that? Maybe this also explains why Buffalo got 82 inches of snow over Christmas," the Wall Street Journal says.

"That, in essence, is the preposterous reply that Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy gave to Chief Justice William Rehnquist's gentle rebuke this week about the slow pace of Senate judicial confirmations. Senators 'ought to act with reasonable promptness to vote each nominee up or down,' the chief justice wrote in his annual state-of-the-judiciary report, delivered to Congress on New Year's Day. 'The Senate is not, of course, obliged to confirm any particular nominee. But it ought to act on each nominee and to do so within a reasonable time.'

"Sounds pretty reasonable," the newspaper said in an editorial. "The president nominates and the Senate confirms or rejects. So get on with an up or down vote. Sen. Leahy's response? It's been a 'tumultuous year for the nation and also for the Senate,' he explains. He promises to get back to work as soon as the recess is over.

"We'll believe it when we see it. The record shows that the Vermont Democrat has perfected the art of the big stall, refusing to schedule so much as a hearing for many of Mr. Bush's nominees."


Popular in New York

"Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg's team figures there's a special incentive to make sure President Bush does well by New York the commander in chief is so popular these days that if he keeps it up, he just might be able to win the state in 2004," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"'Could a President Bush, who didn't exactly do well in New York, put it in play in 2004? It's not out of reach,' insists Bloomberg strategist Bill Cunningham.

"Indeed, some Democrats were startled at the loud applause that greeted Bloomberg's mention of Bush's name in his inaugural speech," Miss Orin said.

"If Bush can win New York, Democrats can forget the next presidential race. There is no Democratic scenario for winning the White House without New York."


A cave in Utah

Scores of people in Utah apparently believe that Osama bin Laden is hiding out there perhaps drawn by his proclivity toward plural marriage or his penchant for desert climes, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports.

Federal agents in Salt Lake City say they've fielded dozens of reports that the accused terrorist mastermind has been spotted on the freeway, in the mall or eating a Big Mac and fries at McDonald's.

"We've had a bunch of bin Laden sightings," said Special Agent Kevin Eaton.

The reports have increased since U.S. Special Forces began scouring Afghanistan cave-by-cave for bin Laden, who remains at large.

"It is pretty surprising how many people really believe he is here," Mr. Eaton said.

But although bin Laden has been spotted in Utah more often than Elvis, at least since the terrorist attacks of September 11, "We have checked every cave in town and turned up nothing," said Lt. Charles Illsley of the West Valley City Police Department.


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