- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

Rattled sabers

Dan K. Thomasson is right that gas prices are a huge component in the upcoming election, a fact that can’t have escaped the Bush administration (“It’s the gas prices, stupid,” Commentary, Sunday). The price retreat can in part be ascribed to normal market effects. The summer driving season is over, and the winter heating season has yet to begin. The hurricane season turned out mild so far and the war in Lebanon has ended. But there was one key tool available to the Bush administration to drive oil prices: threats of war with Iran. President Bush rattled sabers this spring, driving prices up. Now, just in time for the midterm elections, he makes a conciliatory speech at the United Nations, deciding to give diplomacy a chance.

To believe that this was more than coincidence requires us to believe that Mr. Bush is quite a Machiavellian player, but there is evidence that this is the case. In the recent past, Mr. Bush published unreasonably high deficit estimates, then claimed credit for reducing the deficit closer to the election simply by putting out a new estimate that wasn’t padded. Of course, in the end our deficits are still unreasonably high, but it doesn’t sound so bad since it is lower than the numbers we had recently been batting around.

Don’t get used to these low gasoline prices — they won’t last. Oil production just entered decline at the largest oil fields in both Mexico and Kuwait in 2005. Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on the aging Ghawar field, into which they must pump 7 million of gallons of sea water each day to maintain production. U.S. production has been falling since 1970, and North Sea production is falling by double digit percentages year on year. As a commodity, oil prices will always fluctuate, but the trend will be up, perhaps even shortly after the midterm elections.



Three’s no crowd

My congratulations to The Washington Times investigative staff for having finally uncovered a deeply hidden secret — that there are actually three candidates on the ballot in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race (“Steele, Cardin wrangle over race in debate,” Page 1, Wednesday).

From the day after Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele received the Republican nomination, he has always insisted that Kevin Zeese be included in the debates. In fact, Mr. Steele began his opening statement in this three-way debate by criticizing his other opponent, Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, for completely ignoring Mr. Zeese.

Mr. Zeese’s historic Unity Campaign has already achieved unprecedented milestones. He is the first person ever to be nominated by both the Libertarian and the Green Parties, anywhere in the country, despite these two parties’ major differences on many issues.

And as far as we know, this is the first inclusive three-way general election debate ever held in Maryland. Mr. Zeese’s rapidly growing support could easily alter the outcome of this election, and he might even win — in a three-way race anything can happen, and voters are definitely tired of the same old two-party song and dance.

Mr. Zeese often points out the big disconnect between what rank-and-file Republicans want and what their party leaders and elected officials deliver. Rank-and-file Republicans want fiscal responsibility, but they get massive federal deficits.

They want ethics, but they get scandals. They want free-market economics, but they get $300 billion in corporate welfare. Republican voters want Main Street values, but their leaders deliver Wall Street values.

Rank-and-file Democrats are in the same fix. They want peace, but they get war (since the war began, Mr. Cardin has voted 100 percent for it). They want civil liberties, but they get the Patriot Act (Mr. Cardin voted for that, too).

They want to eliminate the influence of special interests, but Mr. Cardin is one of the top recipients of campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical, defense, and insurance industries.

Perhaps this is why a recent Survey USA poll shows Mr. Zeese drawing about equal support from Democratic and Republican voters. Nobody is getting what they want, but Kevin Zeese has something to offer everyone — except the special interests, that is.

The twin-party duopoly that caused this problem cannot be expected to reform itself, any more than it could in 1850, when the Democratic Party represented slave owners, and the Whig Party represented northern industrialists, who also profited from slavery; then the biggest business in the country. The solution required the creation of a new political movement outside of the two major parties — the Republican Party.

But now, the government has become the biggest business in the country, and the Republican Party has become half (or most) of the problem.

The only solution — then as now — is to be found outside the two major parties. And that is exactly what Kevin Zeese is doing.



‘Someone’ knew

There is no evidence that House Speaker Dennis Hastert had any knowledge of the sexually explicit e-mail messages by former Rep. Mark Foley until those details were revealed last week (“Resign, Mr. Speaker,” Editorial, Tuesday).

Whether the speaker should have taken more aggressive action earlier against Mr. Foley based on the general complaints he has acknowledged having received can’t be known until we have the full facts on this debacle, not just hearsay. In this country, we consider people to be innocent until proven guilty.

But someone obviously did have knowledge of those vile and despicable e-mails for the information to be leaked to the press.

Instead of calling on Mr. Hastert to resign before the facts are known, The Washington Times should be calling for a full and independent investigation of who knew about those e-mails, when they knew it, and what should have been done with that information under House rules and state and federal law.

The Times should retract its call for Mr. Hastert’s resignation, and instead demand such an investigation into identifying any and all parties who withheld information on Mr. Foley’s actions.

It would also be of public service to publish a comprehensive article detailing precedents of the House in dealing with similar scandals in the past, as a guide for handling this reprehensible and inexcusable conduct by a member.

Then we should let the chips fall where they may when we have reliable information with which to judge. But not before.


House of Representatives


Disregarding the rule of law

I read with interest the article “Senate OKs detainees tribunal bill” (Page 1, Sept. 29) on the passage of the military tribunal bill because it was so different from other information I had.

As the bill is written, the president can declare anyone, including an American citizen, an enemy combatant who then has no right to challenge his detention and who may be held forever without trial.

The president can also decide what is torture and what is not. It is our president, you will recall, who permitted water boarding, among other “coercive techniques.”

I am not for coddling terrorists, but I am mindful that it is our military — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — who have been most vociferously opposed to the use of coercive techniques in interrogation. And what of the innocents? Are we willing to deny rights to all in order to prosecute a few?

This bill appears to assume that everyone detained is guilty, something that has been proven untrue time and again. Even a recent commander of Guantanamo Bay has said that there are innocent people there. And perhaps many people are unaware of the high-profile detainees who were finally released after having been tortured. One recently profiled is Canadian; another is German. It was only through the use of habeas corpus — judicial review to determine the legality of detention — that they were found innocent and released.

What has happened to our use of the rule of law? Are we so fearful that we will go to any lengths to punish those we suspect, regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent? I am sorely disappointed in our Congress and a leadership that seem to rely on the Constitution and rule of law only when it is convenient.



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