- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Levin’s sources

A conservative legal group is challenging Sen. Carl Levin to reveal the sources for his long-standing contention that Iraq was trying to build a nuclear weapon.

In recent weeks, the Michigan Democrat has led the way in accusing the Bush administration of misleading Congress and the public about the danger from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

“For five years, Senator Levin has insisted that Iraq has been pursuing weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear program. We insist that Senator Levin reveal the sources and the bases for his long-standing allegations,” Landmark Legal Foundation President Marc Levin told this column yesterday.

“And if Senator Levin cannot reveal that information or has been misleading the public for the last five years, then he should voluntarily step down as the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

The Landmark president, in a letter to the senator yesterday, noted that in an Oct. 9, 1998, speech on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Levin had talked about Iraqi chemical weapons and referred to “reports that Iraq attempted to acquire materials for a nuclear weapons program, contrary to its treaty obligations.”

And as recently as Aug. 4, 2002, the senator said he assumed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would “continue with a clandestine nuclear program if he can.”

No taxes, please

While Californians worry about cuts in government spending on education, health care and public safety, there is little support for higher taxes, according to a poll released yesterday.

With the state budget stalled in a stalemate between Gov. Gray Davis and the Legislature, a record-low percentage of voters approve of the job performance of either one, the survey by San Francisco-based Field Research Institute showed.

Just 23 percent of the voters said Mr. Davis is doing a good job, while 66 percent disapproved. For the Legislature, 19 percent of respondents approved of the job it was doing, breaking the previous record low of 23 percent, set in 1992.

The poll also found little support for higher taxes, which is how Mr. Davis and the Democrats who control both houses of the Legislature want to solve California’s fiscal crisis.

A majority of voters, 57 percent, oppose the plan backed by Democrats to borrow more than $10 billion to pay off the state’s existing deficit and repay the loan with a temporary half-cent sales-tax increase. Sixty-seven percent say the administration was not justified last month in raising car taxes an average of $158 per vehicle.

Robertson’s prayer

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson urged his nationwide audience Monday to pray for God to have three justices retire from the Supreme Court so they could be replaced by conservatives.

“We ask for miracles in regard to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club.”

Mr. Robertson has begun a 21-day “prayer offensive” directed at the Supreme Court in the wake of its 6-3 vote last month that struck down state sodomy laws. Mr. Robertson said in a letter on the CBN Web site that the ruling “has opened the door to homosexual marriage, bigamy, legalized prostitution and even incest.”

The same letter targets three justices in particular: “One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?”

Judging from the descriptions, Mr. Robertson was referring at least to Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Associated Press reports.

A real doozy

“In a state that has given us the quickie divorce, legalized prostitution and gambling, you’d think it would be hard to raise eyebrows. But compared to their Supreme Court, Nevada’s sin industries are looking downright respectable,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“In a landmark 6-to-1 ruling Thursday, Nevada’s justices came up with a real doozy: Essentially they ordered state legislators to violate the state constitution they have sworn to uphold,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“That’s the real meaning of their ruling that a Nevada constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority in both state houses for any tax hike was trumped by another constitutional requirement that the state fund public education. The dubious reasoning here was that while the education requirement was ‘substantive’ and ‘specific,’ the supermajority requirement for a tax increase was merely ‘procedural’ and ‘general.’

“Leave aside for a moment the singular idea that procedural requirements are not as essential to self-rule as other provisions. (The Federalist Papers are all about such unsubstantive ‘procedural’ details as the separation of powers.) Or that the case can be made that it is the supermajority requirement that is specific and the education requirement that is general.

“This case shouldn’t have been before the court at all. And it wouldn’t have been had Republican Governor Kenny Guinn not taken the extraordinary step of suing his own state legislature when it refused to push through nearly $1 billion in tax increases he wanted.”

Mapping Texas

A Republican state senator in Texas said Monday he would join Democrats in trying to block a new legislative map for Texas, opening the possibility the redistricting bill could be kept from the Senate floor.

Sen. Bill Ratliff said he planned to add his name to a statement signed by 10 other senators promising their “unalterable opposition” to any motion to bring up congressional redistricting for debate, the Associated Press reports.

Under Senate rules, two-thirds — or 21 senators — must agree to bring a bill up for debate before it can be considered on the Senate floor. It takes 11 senators to block a bill from debate in the 31-member chamber.

But Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst upped the ante yesterday, telling reporters that Gov. Rick Perry will call another special session on congressional redistricting if the current session fails to produce a plan that increases the state’s Republican representation in the U.S. House.

Mr. Perry earlier had told reporters he would “never rule it out,” but declined to say what he would do, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Voice for Graham

Bluegrass singer Ralph Stanley is lending his voice to the presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Graham.

Mr. Stanley will perform a series of concerts for the Florida Democrat’s campaign beginning today at the Coffee Pot club in Roanoke, the Associated Press reports.

The 76-year-old Mr. Stanley, who has recorded nearly 200 albums in his 50-year career, won a Grammy Award for his performance of “O Death” on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack.

Mr. Stanley, Jim Lauderdale and the Clinch Mountain Boys won the Grammy for best bluegrass album this year for “Lost in the Lonesome Pines.”

In a statement, Mr. Graham said that “I look forward to his help and look forward to witnessing his performances.”

Flying into history

The plane that made political history by landing President Bush on an aircraft carrier to announce victory in the Iraq war has arrived at its final resting place — a Florida museum.

The S-3B Viking, the first plane ever designated “Navy One,” was flown to Pensacola yesterday from North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego and will go on permanent display tomorrow at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, the Associated Press reports.

Many planes have used the call sign “Air Force One,” but there never was a “Navy One” until Mr. Bush boarded the jet for his May 1 flight to the USS Abraham Lincoln.

“We’ve wanted an S-3 for a long time,” said retired Capt. Robert Rasmussen, the museum director. “To have one that is so historic is extremely meaningful.”

At the museum at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the gray Viking jet with “George W. Bush, commander-in-chief” stenciled under the right cockpit window will join a yellow biplane that Mr. Bush’s father, former President George Bush, flew while training as a pilot in World War II.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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