- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

Flirting with disaster

“After looking at the news for the past 10 days or so, I have to wonder how Democrats can possibly fail in their efforts to take both the House and Senate,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“The national atmospherics don’t merely favor Democrats; they set the stage for a blowout of cosmic proportions next month,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“No, that’s not a prediction, since Republicans still have a month to ‘localize’ enough races to hold onto one or both chambers of Congress. But you don’t have to be Teddy White or V.O. Key to know that the GOP is now flirting with disaster.”

Pelosi’s pledges

House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi promised yesterday to raise the minimum wage while cutting taxes to spur economic growth and help the middle class.

She also vowed that Democrats will keep U.S. jobs from going overseas by repealing tax incentives if voters give her party the reins of Congress on Nov. 7.

“This economy is making the super-rich richer, and leaving middle-class American families further behind, deeper in debt and struggling to make ends meet,” Mrs. Pelosi, of California, said in a speech at Georgetown University.

“Democrats believe in the marketplace,” she said. “Choices made by President Bush and Republicans in Congress have created a market failure. They have consistently rewarded wealth without rewarding work.”

She was one of 10 Democratic leaders giving economic speeches across the country this week, the Associated Press reports.

Republicans scoffed at Mrs. Pelosi’s remarks.

“The Democrat plan of heaping taxes on parents, families and employers has failed in the past, and is an astonishingly foolish agenda for the future,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Unhappy birthday

For months, Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has been fending off accusations that he bungled government programs and awarded jobs and contracts to contributors and cronies. But suddenly, one issue has cut through the clutter: a $1,500 gift to one of his daughters.

The check came from a lifelong Blagojevich friend, and it arrived soon after the friend’s wife got a state job. The Democrat has said he is not sure whether it was a birthday gift for one daughter or a christening gift for another, but he insisted it had no connection to the job. At the same time, he acknowledged asking his chief of staff to help the woman, the Associated Press reports.

With just weeks to go before Election Day, the $1,500 check has grabbed voters’ attention in a way some of the other accusations — involving audits, contracts and bureaucratic procedure — haven’t.

“People think, ‘My kid never got $1,500; there must be something wrong here,’” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Mr. Blagojevich’s Republican opponent, Judy Baar Topinka, is using the $1,500 check to paint the governor as corrupt. She is running an ad that shows Mr. Blagojevich fumbling to answer questions about the money. And at a recent debate, her supporters held up huge, fake checks and shouted, “Hooray for birthdays.”

Politicizing science

“When critics bemoan the politicization of science, they usually point a bitter finger at the Bush administration. Their condemnation should actually be aimed in the opposite direction,” Wesley J. Smith writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“Increasingly, it is the scientists themselves — or better stated the leaders of the science sector — who are devolving science from the apolitical pursuit of knowledge into a distinctly ideological enterprise,” said Mr. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.

“The creation of a new 527 advocacy PAC called Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA) is the latest example of this phenomenon. SEA claims to be entering the political fray because the nation’s leaders ‘systematically ignore scientific evidence and analysis, put ideological interests ahead of scientific truths, suppress valid scientific evidence and harass and threaten scientists for speaking honestly about their research.’ But most of the problems SEA identifies on its Web site as supposedly threatening science are actually disputes about ethics, philosophy, or social theory — areas of human concern that are not within the scientific realm.

“The brouhaha over President Bush’s federal funding limitations on embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) is a prime example of a dispute that SEA pretends is scientific, but which really centers on values and ethics.”

Aide attacked

The spokeswoman for New Mexico gubernatorial candidate John Dendahl was in critical condition yesterday after she was severely beaten in a bank parking lot, officials said.

Paige McKenzie was attacked Wednesday evening in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque. Her vehicle was on a jack and its spare tire was out when emergency workers found her, police chief Fred Radosevich said.

Mr. Dendahl, a Republican, said a friend of Miss McKenzie’s told him she recognized the assailant, but she did not provide a name. Miss McKenzie’s “teeth were splintered, she has a broken jaw and has a tube down her throat to help her breathe,” Mr. Dendahl said.

Police had not been able to interview her as of midday yesterday, the police chief said. He said officers are checking with the bank, but apparently no camera was aimed at the area where Miss McKenzie’s vehicle was parked, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Dendahl faces Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, in the Nov. 7 general election.

Arming teachers

A Wisconsin state legislator, worried about a string of deadly school shootings, suggested arming teachers, principals and other school personnel as a safety measure and a deterrent.

It might not be politically correct, but it has worked effectively in other countries, Republican Rep. Frank Lasee said Wednesday.

“To make our schools safe for our students to learn, all options should be on the table,” he said. “Israel and Thailand have well-trained teachers carrying weapons and keeping their children safe from harm. It can work in Wisconsin.”

Mr. Lasee said he planned to introduce legislation that would allow school personnel to carry concealed weapons. He stressed that it would hinge on school staff members getting strict training on the use of the weapons, and he acknowledged he would have to work around a federal law that bans guns on school grounds, the Associated Press reports.

Last week, a 15-year-old Wisconsin student was arrested in the shooting death of Weston High School Principal John Klang. The criminal complaint said the teen brought guns to school to confront students, teachers and the principal.

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

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