- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Heels and handguns

It’s the second annual Shooting for Women Conference, which will be held Thursday through Sunday in Arizona and feature “loads of range time, pajama party, self-defense classes, fashion show.”

The conference also will feature Hollywood celebrity shooters, a gourmet game cooking class (“get the secret to extra flavor and finesse in your trophy meals”), cowboy action shooting and the seminar “High Heels to Hunting Boots.”

Female attendees also are being encouraged to share “the worst things a man ever said to a woman on the range” (or anywhere else for that matter) and provide the best comebacks.

What’s a thong?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would be shocked to find the Social Security Act he signed into law in 1935 emblazoned on women’s underwear — thongs, no less.

Yet when he’s not appearing alongside Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and speaking out against President Bush‘s plan to partially privatize Social Security, Hans Riemer, Washington director of Rock the Vote, is peddling undergarments.

Urging Mr. Riemer to stick with voter registration, Lisa De Pasquale, program director of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, issued a memo on behalf of the women’s group against “I Love Social Security” thongs.

She feels that on the heels of other left-wing groups’ hysteria over Social Security reform, the Rock the Vote campaign is misinforming a whole new generation of young people.

“How do you make an apathetic generation care about Social Security?” she asks. “Sell trucker hats and thongs emblazoned with ‘I Love Social Security.’ ”

Besides underwear, Rock the Vote has issued a list of reasons why young people should oppose Social Security reform, including that the current system is “retro chic,” “politicians want to trick you,” and it’s better to “visit your grandparents — at their house” because “before Social Security, for most families, all the generations lived under one roof.”

“This is how Rock the Vote views their constituency — a bunch of ditsy victims who don’t want to live with their grandparents,” Miss De Pasquale says.

Death duties

We explained earlier how language shapes political debate in this country, in particular “death” tax in lieu of “estate” tax.

Enter Larry DeAngelus of the Schenectady, N.Y., law firm of Higgins, Roberts, Beyerl & Coan PC. His practice: estate planning and administration.

“Democrats love to believe, or pretend to believe, that Republicans invented the term ‘death tax’ in order to dress the estate tax in a mantle of evil,” Mr. DeAngelus tells Inside the Beltway. “In fact, this term is used all the time by practitioners, in everything from informal discussions to formal documents.

“I even refer to ‘death taxes’ in wills that I draft for clients,” he says. “The estate tax is a tax on the transfer of a decedent’s property. Most people don’t know this, but there are a few different types of such transfer taxes — estate tax, succession tax, inheritance tax, probate tax, generation-skipping transfer taxes — and lawyers use the term ‘death tax’ to refer in general to all taxes that may be levied against the transfer.

“So, it’s a legal term, and a very common one at that. In fact, one of the earliest treatises on the subject, by Henry Hanson, is entitled ‘Death Duties.’ (‘Duties,’ of course, being an early synonym for ‘tax.’)

“While the use of the term ‘death tax’ in political debate is certainly helpful to turn the public sentiment against it (not that this confiscatory and punitive tax should need any outside assistance), it has always been a legitimate and often used legal term.”

Reform required?

Former President Jimmy Carter has been tapped to head a bipartisan commission examining problems with the U.S. election system — albeit, apart from exceedingly long lines in several key states such as Florida and Ohio, a team of international monitors reported no major problems with the November 2004 elections.

Instead, the human rights group Fair Election said the nonpartisan foreign election observers were “very impressed by the huge outpouring of voters and note that many of the irregularities that occurred were due to the large turnout.”

“The wave of voter turnout shows that Americans believe in democracy,” said Owen Thomas, a British observer who was posted in Florida’s Broward County. “People really wanted to vote, and they were determined that their votes count.”

Also participating in the new American University commission on election reform will be former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat who lost his seat last year, and former Republican Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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