- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On the verge

“Democrats and Republicans in Washington are headed toward a showdown,” Doug Schoen writes in the Boston Globe.

“At issue is how to provide an additional $100 billion in supplemental funding to support American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Congressional Democrats are intent on passing legislation that will include a requirement — or at least a call — to bring the troops home next year,” Mr. Schoen observed.

“President Bush insists he will accept no such provision, even if it means vetoing legislation that would provide badly needed money for the troops in the field. The American people, he maintains, will fault Democrats if that happens. In short, the politicians in Washington are playing a high-stakes game of chicken — one whose outcome will change the balance of power and have a profound effect on the 2008 presidential elections.

“It’s a dynamic I know well. In 1995, I was one of the political consultants who advised President Clinton during the government shutdown, which was brought on by another clash between another assertive Congress and an equally determined president. Then as now, the stakes were high. Had we failed, Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich would have become America’s de facto prime minister. Instead, Clinton’s presidency was restored.

“This time, if Democrats insist on their policy and public sentiment rallies behind them, the GOP collapse on national security issues will be complete. If, however, the public blames Democrats for risking troops in Iraq, congressional Democrats will have committed a political blunder nearly as dramatic as the invasion of Iraq itself. So who should swerve first? The lessons of 1995 suggest that Democrats today are on the verge of a major mistake.”

Doolittle’s woes

“It’s sad when someone you’ve known for decades gets in trouble and you’re not surprised,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“After the FBI raided the home of California’s Rep. John Doolittle this month in search of records from the fundraising company run by his wife, Julie, Republican House leaders didn’t wait even a day before they pressured him to step down from his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. Everyone knows that such a raid only occurs after a judge has issued a search warrant in response to government claims that there is probable cause a crime has been committed,” Mr. Fund said.

“In Mr. Doolittle’s case, it appears the FBI is exploring allegations that Mrs. Doolittle received thousands of dollars from lobbyist turned felon Jack Abramoff for phantom work in exchange for favors Mr. Doolittle might have performed for Abramoff clients. Mr. Doolittle insists he and his wife will be cleared.

“But political observers back in Mr. Doolittle’s hometown of Sacramento agree his congressional career is over. Last year, publicity about his ties to Mr. Abramoff caused his popularity to plummet. He won re-election by only 3 percent in a district President Bush carried by 24 percent in 2004. Now he is almost certain to face a primary challenge from a local GOP state legislator, as Republicans scramble to make sure the seat stays in their hands.

“It will be a sad end to a political career that began with such promise. In 1980, when I met Mr. Doolittle, he was a 30-year-old lawyer and political upstart and I was a California college student. Mr. Doolittle had just defeated an incumbent Democratic state senator in Sacramento County, which had elected only one Republican to partisan office in the past generation (and she soon switched parties).

“Mr. Doolittle, a confirmed Reaganite, inspired an entire generation of local Republicans to take advantage of demographic changes in the state’s capital.”

Campus danger

“It would be so easy if the complexities that went into the making of a killer could be boiled down to ‘where did this guy get a gun?’ ” clinical psychologist Helen Smith writes at her blog (www.DrHelen.blogspot.com). “It takes responsibility away from trying to understand what went into the making of the killer, and why we, as a society did nothing to stop him. I can only talk in generalities here. … But I do know some facts about young people who kill or threaten others in schools and universities.

“The violence-prone individual is more likely to have enduring personality pathology, such as a paranoid, schizoid, narcissistic, or antisocial personality, and a long history of difficult interpersonal relationships. He may ruminate about perceived slights or injustices for months or even years. Because he is often a loner, he has no circle of friends to correct his misinterpretations of other people’s intentions and behaviors. … His thinking is so faulty that he can justify assaultive behavior on the basis that he is the innocent victim. …

“What I am amazed by is that in many school shootings … authorities and others were told that there were problems or in some cases, the eventual killer had already made threats, but no one did anything.

“In my opinion, if we have mentally unstable students … in universities and schools [that] do not hold themselves or the student accountable for their behavior, there is no other alternative than to extend the civil right to [carry a concealed weapon] to the potential innocent staff and students who may encounter the wrath of such a person. If universities and schools won’t take responsibility — and they won’t — then someone has to.”

Kerry’s plan

Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, yesterday revealed a bill that would make the U.S. Capitol carbon neutral by 2020.

“Congress must lead by example in energy efficiency, conservation and the fight against pollution,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in outlining his bill.

The Kerry plan would implement energy efficiency measures in congressional offices, increase conservation efforts and aims to use renewable energy at the Capitol, Christina Bellantoni reported yesterday on The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap. The bill also looks to explore ways for the Capitol Power Plant to use clean coal technology, with Mr. Kerry saying that is “action that’s long overdue.”

Mr. Kerry also said he supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s initiative to replace 12,000 light bulbs on the House side of the Capitol complex in an attempt to set an example for energy conservation, an effort reported here last week.

No appeal

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal by a U.S. soldier who received a bad-conduct discharge after refusing to serve on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia.

Former Army medic Michael New has been fighting his discharge for the past 11 years. Mr. New argued that he was not afforded all his legal rights in the course of the court-martial that stemmed from his refusal to wear the U.N. insignia on his Army uniform.

He was supposed to be among a few hundred soldiers who were sent to Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic, to guard against the spread of unrest from other areas torn by ethnic turmoil. The justices declined to hear his case without comment, the Associated Press reports.

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

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