- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lockbox’ solution

“The public is anxious about President Bush’s reform of Social Security, and the idea is in trouble,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“Ceaseless pounding by liberals has driven many Republicans into a defensive crouch. It’s time for some political jujitsu that will instead focus the public’s attention on stopping Congress from spending the extra payroll taxes now flowing into Social Security on anything else. The only effective way to prevent that would be to take the money off the table by starting personal Social Security accounts for every American who wanted one,” Mr. Fund said.

“That’s why the White House should embrace an idea that three GOP senators will propose [today]. They want to seize back the moral and political offensive on the issue of personal accounts. By proposing the creation of personal ‘lockboxes’ to ensure that the government can’t raid Social Security taxes for other programs, they would force opponents to cast a vote against the idea that individuals should have ownership and control over some of their own retirement funds.”

Punishing Durbin

“Conservatives (and, one trusts, many liberals) have been appalled by Sen. [Richard J.] Durbin’s comparison last Tuesday, on the Senate floor, between ‘what Americans had done to prisoners in their control’ at Guantanamo and what was done by Nazis, Soviets, and Pol Pot,” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“Conservatives (and, one trusts, many liberals) have also been appalled by Sen. Durbin’s non-apology last Friday: ‘I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood.’ In other words, Sen. Durbin apparently still believes there could be a proper use and understanding of an ‘historical parallel’ between American soldiers and Nazis,” Mr. Kristol said.

“So what, if anything, is to be done?”

“When Sen. Trent Lott made a far less damaging, but still deplorable, statement [2[1/2]] years ago, his fellow Republicans insisted he step down as their leader. Shouldn’t Democrats insist that Sen. Durbin step down as their whip, the number two man in their leadership? Shouldn’t conservatives (and liberals) legitimately ask Democrats to hold their leader to account, especially given the precedent of Lott?”

Confronting the doves

“Democrats are now focusing on the Downing Street Memo — the prewar British document that seems to prove Bush administration dishonesty and incompetence in the run-up to the Iraq war,” Ari Melber writes in the New York Post.

“Yet history lessons won’t win back the public’s trust on national security. The Democratic Party has to confront its dovish base,” said Mr. Melber, a former national staff member of the John Kerry Presidential Campaign and a contributor to ‘MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country.’

“Most Democrats today are increasingly skeptical of using military force — even against terrorists. No wonder the public thinks the party is weak on national security.

“Exactly 50 percent of Democrats do not believe dismantling al Qaeda should be a top foreign-policy goal. In fact, when recently asked to name the top two ‘most important foreign-policy goals,’ more Democrats worried about outsourcing than about al Qaeda.

“Anti-Democratic propaganda? No, data from a poll by the nonpartisan Century Foundation and John Martilla, a former adviser to John Kerry — which also indicated Democrats are growing more hesitant to support the use of military force.”

Dollars, dismissals

Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations’ agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle’s pet causes,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last September indicted eight corporations in connection with the DeLay investigation. All were charged with making illegal contributions (Texas law forbids corporate giving to political campaigns). Since then, however, Earle has agreed to dismiss charges against four of the companies — retail giant Sears, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, the Internet company Questerra, and the collection company Diversified Collection Services — after the companies pledged to contribute to a program designed to publicize Earle’s belief that corporate involvement in politics is harmful to American democracy.” Mr. York said.

“Some legal observers called the arrangement an unusual resolution to a criminal case, at least in Texas, where the matter is being prosecuted. … And allies of DeLay, who has accused Earle of conducting a politically motivated investigation, called Earle’s actions ‘dollars for dismissals.’”

Then and now

“If the present-day news media were around in the 1770s, the United States of America never could have won the Revolutionary War, author/historian David McCullough charged in a taped interview to plug his new book, ‘1776,’” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Appearing on CNBC’s ‘Tim Russert’ aired Saturday night, McCullough asserted that if the Continental Army efforts led by George Washington ‘had been covered by the media, and the country had seen how horrible the conditions were, how badly things were being run by the officers, and what a very serious soup we were in, I think that would have been it’ for the colonialists and the British would have won.”

Going after Pelosi

House Republicans yesterday tried to tie House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, to Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin’s remarks likening interrogators at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Nazis and the Soviet gulags.

They said that by calling the war a “grotesque mistake” and “without success,” Mrs. Pelosi, too, was insulting American troops.

“Mrs. Pelosi, just like Senator Durbin, is trying to score political points at the expense of our troops, and she owes our military and their families an apology for her reckless comments,” said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, while Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri said that with her comments, “the only people emboldened are the enemy.”

In a debate on defense spending last week, Mrs. Pelosi said the war’s “end is not in sight,” and said Congress has spent money without ever demanding accountability.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said it was “absurd” to say Mrs. Pelosi was questioning the troops in those remarks.

“It’s a disservice to the honorable men and women bravely serving in Iraq,” Miss Crider said. “Are Republicans arguing that the war in Iraq has been a success? Did they find [weapons of mass destruction]? Do they have a plan for withdrawal? Have Republicans done any congressional accountability for the billions of taxpayers’ dollars being spent in Iraq?”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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