- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

One-way ticket

Greg Parke, a Republican who wants to replace Rep. Bernard Sanders as Vermont’s sole member of the U.S. House, is offering the avowed socialist a one-way ticket to Scandinavia.

Mr. Sanders, an independent who generally votes the Democratic Party line, angrily interrupted Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Tuesday when Mr. Greenspan told a House committee that the United States had the world’s highest standard of living. Mr. Sanders said that honor belonged to “Scandinavia,” and suggested the Fed chief pay a visit to the region. (Scandinavia is not actually a country.)

“In Bernie Sanders’ world, Scandinavia is close to Nirvana,” Mr. Parke said in a prepared statement. “I suppose if you are a socialist and believe that half of your income should be confiscated by the government, Scandinavia would truly be heaven on Earth. Therefore, I am hereby offering Bernie Sanders a one-way ticket to Scandinavia.”

Mr. Parke, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew F-16s and is now a commercial pilot, said that if all else fails, he would be happy to fly Mr. Sanders to Scandinavia personally.

“What might surprise my socialist opponent is how outdated his views truly are,” Mr. Parke said. “Even most countries in Scandinavia, bowing under the oppressive weight of bloated welfare states, are making some attempts to implement free-market policies and tax reform.”

Hurt feelings

The chairman of the all-Democrat Congressional Black Caucus, complaining of being ignored by the White House in the past, turned down an invitation to meet with President Bush yesterday about Mr. Bush’s recent Africa trip.

Several members of Congress were invited to the White House to be briefed by Mr. Bush on his five-nation, five-day trip, the Associated Press reports.

“Mr. President, I need not remind you that the CBC’s requests for meetings with you have gone unanswered for more than two-and-one-half years,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, wrote in a letter declining the invitation.

Some of the 39 CBC members had complained prior to Mr. Bush’s departure that he had not consulted them.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, was planning to attend the briefing, as were at least two CBC members, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, vice chairwoman of the caucus, and Rep. Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, ranking member of the House International Relations Africa subcommittee.

Out of ammo

House Democrats say they will use every weapon in their arsenal to force a vote on a Senate-passed plan that would include low-income families in the new $1,000-per-child tax credit — but they concede their arsenal is slim.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said yesterday her ranks “will use every procedural weapon at our disposal to force a vote” on the Senate bill before the House leaves for the August recess next week. But the California Democrat said there are few options for Democrats and that the House floor is “limited to us.”

Democrats are planning to offer a procedural motion every night until the House leaves for the break. Each motion would instruct conferees to accept the Senate bill. House-passed legislation would extend the tax credit to both low- and high-income families, among other things, but Democratic senators say that bill is too expensive.

Democrats bemoaned a lack of news coverage on the issue.

“If Democrats walked on water, you’d report that we can’t swim,” Rep. Charles B. Rangel complained to reporters.

The New York Democrat didn’t blame reporters, pointing instead to newspaper management. “We know who owns them and we know who edits them,” he said.

Nine holes at 90

Former President Gerald R. Ford returned to his old White House last night to celebrate turning 90 years old — one of only four U.S. presidents to reach that milestone in life.

Mr. Ford, whose birthday was Monday, joins John Adams, Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan as the only former presidents to become nonagenarians.

The former president now lives in Beaver Creek, Colo., and still plays golf, but he says he’s a “nine-holer” because his legs don’t handle 18 holes very well. He was taken to the hospital, but not admitted, in May after becoming dizzy while golfing on a hot day in California.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that the Gerald R. Ford Foundation requested the White House birthday celebration. President Bush will attend a reception for Mr. Ford in the residential quarters of the White House, which will be followed by a dinner, the Associated Press reports.

As part of the festivities, the foundation named Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as the first recipient of a new award it has established in Mr. Ford’s honor — the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Ford, also a former congressman and House minority leader, appeared on the House floor during a vote. He was given a round of applause and surrounded by well-wishers.

On July 30 in Mr. Ford’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., a community picnic and celebration honoring his 90th birthday will be held in a park in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

‘It’s not Vietnam’

A posse of political veterans turned up in New York City’s Grand Central Station yesterday to hold forth on whether President Bush’s re-election freight train can be stopped in 2004. As is often the case in politics, nothing was settled.

Democrats attacked the administration’s handling of the economy and the war, particularly its use of intelligence.

“I believe it will lead to the door for [Vice President Dick] Cheney, whom I believe is responsible for the abuse of intelligence,” said former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal, a key loyalist in the Clinton sex scandal. “The Congress was lied to as it voted for a war resolution.”

Moderator Harold Evans, a contributing editor of “This Week,” the magazine sponsoring the luncheon at Michael Jordan’s restaurant, said he hated to say the word “quagmire,” but wasn’t the United States headed into exactly that with Iraq?

“It’s not Vietnam,” replied former Reagan adviser Ed Rollins, adding, however, that Mr. Bush had declared the war over too soon.

No matter, Mr. Rollins said. The president was still running 51 percent to 52 percent against any of the Democratic presidential challengers, the same numbers that Ronald Reagan had in 1984.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who plans to vote for Mr. Bush, sees the Democrats as “floundering” in the run-up to the national election.

When lunch was over, the urbane George Plimpton, man about town and the Hamptons, inquired of a guest: “So, now, is Bush beatable in 2004? I don’t think we found out.”

Another six months

President Bush yesterday granted another six-month extension to a measure barring lawsuits by Americans whose property in Cuba was taken by Fidel Castro’s government.

The ban “is necessary to the national interests of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba,” the president said in a letter to Congress.

Mr. Bush last extended the prohibition in January.

Under a 1996 law, Americans may sue any individual, investor or business using property seized on or after Jan. 1, 1959, although it also gives presidents the power to block all such lawsuits for six-month periods.

New map ordered

Maps outlining North Carolina’s state House and Senate districts drawn last year by the Democrat-led legislature are unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The majority justices in the 4-1 opinion are Republicans and the lone dissenter is a Democrat. Two other Republican justices did not participate in the ruling, the Associated Press reports.

The decision means lawmakers will likely have to redraw legislative district maps. The 2002 elections were held using interim maps drawn by a lower-court judge.

A plaintiff in the case, Republican state Sen. Patrick Ballantine, said the decision “was a down-the-line victory for the voters of North Carolina.”

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

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