- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Second fiddle

“I know she was your first choice for this fundraiser.”

President Bush, addressing a Mac Collins for Congress reception this week in Macon, Ga., referring to the always-popular first lady Laura Bush, who unfortunately had a previous commitment.

Still had enough?

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is all but unfazed by the dismal primary voting turnout for the otherwise vital midterm elections, continuing to insist that “people have had enough.”

“We’re poised to win historic victories up and down the ballot — but only if we follow through and make it happen,” said Mr. Dean, who is concerned enough about voter numbers of recent weeks to ask every Democrat who can do so to take the day off from work on Election Day.

Curtis Gans, director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE), announced this week that U.S. voter turnout for the 2006 statewide midterm election primaries hit the lowest number ever recorded — despite it being a year when Democrats contend that Americans are fed up with their elected officials and demand change.

Turnout in the recent primaries fell 17 percent from midterm levels in 2002, with barely 15 percent of the eligible electorate going to the polls.

Fool’s prize

A more popular definition for patsy is a “chump: a person who is gullible and easy to take advantage of.” Others describe a “fool,” a “sucker.”

“I thought you’d like to know the names of the officials the Center for Military Readiness has selected as the finalists for our inaugural CMR ‘Patsy’ Award,” says CMR President Elaine Donnelly, referring to this evening’s 11th annual CMR awards gala at the Hall of States.

The honor, she hints, will go to “an official whom feminists have used to impose their policies on the men and women of the military.”

Mrs. Donnelly argues that the U.S. military is no longer a conservative institution, rather “it is on the cutting edge of liberal social change.”

Without further ado, the “Patsy” finalists include Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, Navy Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, and the entire English Department of West Point.

Disingenuous buzz

Under the headline “Exhale,” we quoted White House Drug Control Policy Director John P. Walters as saying don’t hold your breath if you think the Bush administration would one day consider legalizing marijuana.

“Of the roughly 7 million people we have as an estimate that need treatment because of dependence or abuse of illegal drugs, roughly 60 percent are dependent on marijuana,” Mr. Walters told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday, insisting more teens are “dependent on marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined.”

Which comes as news to Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project on Capitol Hill. (How does one land that gig?)

Mr. Mirken tells Inside the Beltway that Mr. Walters is “deliberately and rather brazenly disingenuous,” and calls our attention to a federal government report titled the “Treatment Episode Data Set” (TEDS).

“What Mr. Walters didn’t mention is that the majority of these treatment admissions were referred by the criminal justice system — i.e., kids were arrested and offered treatment instead of jail,” he explains. “Virtually all of the supposedly alarming growth in marijuana treatment admissions has been driven by arrests.

“Another nugget buried in the TEDS stats: Of those admitted to treatment for alleged ‘marijuana dependence,’ over one-third did not use marijuana at all in the month prior to admission, and half used it three times or less.

“These are addicts? Give me a break,” says Mr. Mirken. “Bottom line: We arrest people for smoking marijuana, force them into treatment and then use those treatment admissions as ‘proof’ marijuana is dangerously addictive. Somewhere, George Orwell is smiling.”

Disgusted dad

Mark Foley, the Florida Republican who recently resigned from Congress after it was revealed he had sent sexually explicit e-mail messages to former congressional pages, would be denied his federal pension under legislation proposed by Rep. Rick Renzi, Arizona Republican.

Under current rules, the 52-year-old Mr. Foley will be eligible to receive an annual pension of $32,000 once he turns 62.

“As a father of 12, I am disgusted,” says Mr. Renzi.

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

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