- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ANOTHER SCHEME

”The American people have had enough of convoluted, indecipherable financial schemes and the opportunists who exploit them,”William O'Keefe writes at www.usnews.com.

”The public is understandably angry about Wall Street's exploitation of Main Street, and yet our political leaders are setting the stage for another complex trading market, ripe for corruption. The future Enrons and Bernie Madoff’s of the world would like nothing better than to see the U.S. impose a new market for carbon emission trading,” said Mr. O'Keefe, chief executive officer of the Marshall Institute and president of Solutions Consulting Inc.

“The cap-and-trade system being touted on Capitol Hill would create a multibillion-dollar playground that would, once again, create a group of wealthy traders benefiting at the expense of millions of average families - middle to low-income households that would end up paying more for food, energy and almost everything else they buy.

“Enron executives - before their well-deserved fall - did little to conceal their lust for cap-and-trade. In 2002, The Washington Post reported that 'an internal Enron memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.'

“Promoting the bottom lines of opportunists is not the job of policymakers. Assisting the staggering 2.6 million American workers who lost their jobs in just the last four months should be. With our nation struggling through the worst economic crisis in over 70 years, Congress shouldn't risk further economic damage by pushing a risky carbon-emission mitigation scheme. There are far better alternatives for dealing with climate change.”

PAY-RAISE FOES

”Rightful public concern has grown on both sides of the political aisle about the appropriate use of public funds for Wall Street bailouts as taxpayers wait for a positive return on their investment,” Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, and Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, write at www.realclear politics.com.

“We hold different opinions as to how government should best spend taxpayer dollars, but one misuse of public funds should unite all Americans in outrage - automatic pay raises for members of Congress,” the senators said.

“Since 1989, when Congress passed a law making annual pay raises automatic, members of the House and Senate have received regular pay increases based on a formula set by that legislation. This 20-year-old backdoor pay raise system has allowed Congress to increase its own pay virtually every year without public debate and with very little - if any - public attention.

”We have no doubt that this provision shares large bipartisan support in Congress, although such supporters are more likely to keep that support secret. The problem is that this is simply not the type of bipartisanship that Congress or the public are looking for.

”That is why we have joined together in a bipartisan effort to bring about a permanent end to this outrageous practice of automatic pay raises for members of Congress. If Congress wants to increase its pay, it should do so publicly and it should do so through debates, votes and legislative committee hearings. The American people should have a chance to weigh in, too - instead of paying for raises without even knowing it.”

BEYOND LUCK

”With the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from a pirate-filled lifeboat in the Indian Ocean, President Obama has survived the first dramatic crisis of his administration with colors flying,” Boston Globe columnist H.D.S. Greenway writes.

”All the world was watching to see how a new, untested president would react to one of the most elemental tests of any president: how to handle the public kidnapping of an American citizen being held for ransom. The deeper crises he faces are long-term ones and will not be resolved so easily, but the success of Easter Sunday will make it all a little easier politically,” the writer said.

“Obama was lucky that it was only one American, and not a whole embassy full as in Tehran 30 years ago - a crisis that ended with the hostages being released after 444 days and a failed rescue mission, but ended any chance that President Carter would have a second term.

“Obama was lucky, too, in that he was dealing with pirates beyond the law of any nation, not a sovereign state, and on the open ocean and not among the warrens of a hostile town. The whole incident was over in a matter of days, not months.

“It takes nothing away from the skill of the U.S. Navy SEAL sharpshooters to say there was a good deal of luck that the incident did not end in tragedy. If the pirates had not gotten careless and showed themselves - perhaps they thought they were protected by darkness - there might have been days of national mourning for an undoubted hero.

“Obama's handling of the affair went beyond luck, however. He didn't heed the advice of those on the left who said the pirates were only businessmen of sorts and that ransom should be paid, as is the custom. Nor did he bluster and threaten the way Teddy Roosevelt famously did over the kidnapping of an American, Ion Perdicaris, by a Moroccan bandit named Mulai Ahmed Raisuli 105 years ago.”

PROBING BUSH

”The question's core - to investigate activities under the Bush administration - and the use of the term 'Truth Commission,' as if America is some half-baked Third World country, are telling signs of the question's partisan political purpose,” Michael F. Scheuer writes at nationaljournal.com.

”Because I put together the rendition program against al Qaeda in August 1995 - under President Clinton - and then ran it for 40 months - during which period all those rendered were taken to Arab prisons under Mr. Clinton's orders - I can only say that America is far safer today because of the brains and bravery of the CIA officers who successfully executed their orders regarding rendition under both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush,” said Mr. Scheuer, an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University.

“All of the whining to date has been nothing more than a Democratic effort to politically hang Mr. Bush - which is not a bad idea for his starting of the Iraq war - and to make sure that the far worse things that happened to those rendered under the direction of that merry pair of felons, Clinton and [then-National Security Adviser Sandy] Berger, are hidden from public view. …

“My guess is that there will be no investigation because there are too many skeletons in the Democratic closet that are too hot to let loose.”

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

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