- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

Legalized extortion

It’s always somebody else’s fault. That much we learned from a congressional hearing this week called by Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, to examine how Americans might be better protected from frivolous lawsuits.

How bad is it?

Companies are now forced to glue warning labels on products such as baby strollers that read: “Remove child before folding.”

Then there’s the dishwasher label: “Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher.” And the warning on the iron: “Never iron clothes while they are being worn.”

Mr. Smith draws attention to a Pennsylvania man who sued the Frito-Lay company saying that Doritos chips were “inherently dangerous” after one stuck in his throat. It took eight years of costly litigation before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the case, with a justice concluding that “it is necessary to properly chew hard foodstuffs prior to swallowing.”

“Some Americans have filed lawsuits for reasons that can only be described as absurd,” Mr. Smith says. “They sue a theme park because its haunted houses are too scary. They sue the Weather Channel for an inaccurate forecast.”

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act has been introduced by Mr. Smith and requires judges to punish those who file frivolous lawsuits.

One last swipe

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the Ohio Democrat known to give President Bush’s lieutenants a tongue-lashing when she feels it appropriate, says she wasn’t able to speak on the House floor June 9 when her fellow lawmakers mourned the passing of former President Ronald Reagan.

So she stepped up to the lectern this week to read, for the congressional record, a column from the Cleveland Plain Dealer penned by local scribe Sam Fullwood. We can’t reprint the entire column, but here are a few excerpts of what she read:

“I never liked Ronald Reagan. …”

“He was a hypocrite who started out as a Democrat and proud union man but turned Republican after he became rich and famous in Hollywood by pretending to be a common man. But it was as president that I disliked Reagan most. …”

“Reagan and his powerful allies poisoned the nation against government. …”

“Little is said about how he waged war on this nation’s poor people. …”

“He used his movie-honed skills to inspire affluent Americans and to scapegoat poor ones. It was mostly smoke and mirrors, honed from a life and career lived in La-La Land. …”

“First and everlasting, Reagan was a bad actor.”

Lucky terrorists

For 50,000 foreign nationals every year, becoming a legal resident of the United States is based on pure luck.

Under the visa lottery system, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident — a green-card holder. Which in this day and age poses a serious national security threat, says Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican.

“A perfect example of the system gone awry is the case of Hesham Mohammed Hedayet, the Egyptian national who killed two and wounded three during a shooting spree at the Los Angeles International Airport in July of 2002,” he says. Hedayet was allowed to apply for lawful permanent resident status in 1997 because his wife won the visa lottery.

Echoing the congressman’s concerns, the State Department’s inspector general issued a report in September warning that the visa lottery poses “significant threats to national security from entry of hostile intelligence officers, criminals, and terrorists into the United States as permanent residents.”

There is legislation before Congress to eliminate the lottery.

Take two

Now it’s Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and former top White House adviser to President Clinton from 1993 to 1998, invoking the name of the late President Ronald Reagan.

“The final draft reflects the facts, and as Ronald Reagan used to say, facts are a stubborn thing,” says Mr. Emanuel, referring to the State Department clarifying a “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report at the request of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat.

The original report, issued in recent weeks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, said terrorist attacks hit their lowest level in 34 years, albeit terrorist attacks are currently “their highest in 20 years,” Mr. Emanuel notes.

“A funny thing happened on the way to the printer,” the congressman guesses.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected].

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide