- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2005

Another reporter

A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove’s attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.

Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time’s Washington bureau, is cooperating with special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity in 2003, the magazine reports in its latest issue.

Miss Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.

Miss Novak, part of a team tracking the CIA case for Time, has written or contributed to articles in which Mr. Luskin characterized the nature of what was said between Mr. Rove and Matthew Cooper, the first Time reporter who testified in the case.

Mr. Cooper appeared before the grand jury in July after Time surrendered his notes and e-mail detailing a conversation with Mr. Rove. Mr. Cooper agreed to talk and avoid jail after disclosing that his source — now confirmed to be Mr. Rove — released him from a confidentiality agreement.

A grand jury indicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, on perjury and obstruction charges on Oct. 28. Mr. Fitzgerald said in court papers earlier this month that he will present additional evidence to another grand jury.

Lawmakers injured

A military vehicle carrying two congressmen overturned on the way to the Baghdad airport Saturday, injuring the lawmakers, said a fellow congressman traveling with them.

Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican, was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for a magnetic resonance imaging of his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat, was sent to a Baghdad hospital, said Rep. Jim Marshall. Mr. Marshall, a Georgia Democrat, was in the vehicle but was not hurt. He said his colleagues suffered minor injuries.

The politicians were riding in a boxlike vehicle in a convoy. The convoy was taking up the middle of the road, a common practice used by the military to deter oncoming motorists. Shortly after dark, an oncoming truck refused to yield, Mr. Marshall said.

“Then all of a sudden brakes get slammed on. Then we hit something and go off the side of the road and tip over,” Mr. Marshall said.

The delegation had traveled to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving with the troops and then to Baghdad to meet with U.S. forces there, the Associated Press reports.

Choose a cheesehead

The time has come for a “cheesehead” in the White House, although Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, doesn’t know whether he’s the one to take that mantle.

He put his chances of seeking the nomination in 2008 at “probably higher” than one in 100, while saying it was too early to commit to the race, the Associated Press reports.

“But I do think one thing we can all agree on is that this country is overdue for a cheesehead president. We’ve never had one,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”

A cheesehead is a native or resident of Wisconsin, a leading dairy state. The term also refers to the yellow “cheese” wedges worn on the heads of Green Bay Packers football fans.

Mr. Feingold is mentioned as a potential candidate because of his anti-war views. He is among the Democrats in recent months who have visited New Hampshire, the site of the first presidential primary.

He voted in October 2002 against a resolution authorizing the president to use force in Iraq and was the first senator to call for a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Painful lesson

“The Medicare prescription-drug benefit is finally coming online, and President Bush and the Republicans who passed it are puzzled that they aren’t getting any political credit. There’s a lesson here — an especially painful one for taxpayers — in the politics and policy of government entitlements,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“Democrats and many of our media colleagues keep suggesting that seniors are hopelessly ‘confused’ by the new benefit, implying that this is because it will be administered by competing private insurers, not an old-fashioned, one-size-fits-all government welfare program. They apparently aspire to the French model of government efficiency and growth,” the newspaper said.

“That line of attack is insulting to the nation’s 42 million Medicare beneficiaries, who aren’t hapless or senile. However, the reason that criticism has some traction is because it taps into justifiable concerns that the new benefit will be a poor substitute for the drug coverage that some three-quarters of seniors already have, and which it will undoubtedly do much to replace.

“In particular, seniors are nonplussed by the ‘donut hole’ they see in the new coverage. The benefit envisaged by our Capitol Hill solons has coverage starting after a $250 deductible and continuing until annual drug expenses reach $2,250, after which it will disappear again until total costs reach $5,100. That means that if you spend $2,000 annually on drugs, Medicare will cover 66 percent. But if you spend $5,000, Medicare’s share will be only about 30 percent.

“In any rational insurance plan, coverage increases with increasing costs. But the likes of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Speaker Dennis Hastert were determined to hand out a bit of money to all seniors, regardless of whether or not they really needed the help. …

“Far from attracting senior gratitude or establishing GOP credibility on health care, these Republicans have set the stage for decades of Democratic demagoguery about closing the donut hole and enriching the benefit.

“This is a perfect political-science-class illustration of why creating new entitlements can never work to the political advantage of parties that pay even lip service to the goal of limited government.”

The other side

“There’s at least one liberal who wants to know how the other half lives,” Anna Mulrine writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

John Moe spent a month immersed in conservative culture — forgoing the New York Times, resetting his radio from NPR to Rush Limbaugh, and making pilgrimages to the Reagan and Nixon libraries. He chronicles the ideological adventure in ‘Conservatize Me,’ to be published by William Morrow next year.

“The hardest part? Listening to patriotic country and western songs. ‘Liberals have better music,’ he insists. But Moe also found conservatives to be funnier. ‘To be funny you have to have confidence,’ he says. ‘And you develop confidence when you rule the world.’”

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

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