The Michigan Militia Corps'

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Volume 5, Issue 18

Week of May 18, 1998

GOP plan to cut spending by $101 billion sent to House committee

WASHINGTON - Republicans began pushing a plan to cut both spending and taxes by an additional $101 billion over the next five years through the House Budget Committee Wednesday, over objections from Democrats and even some GOP lawmakers.

The plan, written by panel Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, is designed to help Republicans deliver an election-year message that they, and not President Clinton, want to shrink government, cut taxes, reduce the national debt and buttress Social Security.

"We have a different vision," Kasich said as the committee began its work. "Our vision is that the federal government ought to be less important. The family ought to be more important." To do this, his plan calls for $101 billion in unspecified spending reductions over the next five years beyond the savings enacted in last summer's budget-balancing deal.

It also proposes $101 billion in tax reductions from eliminating the so-called marriage penalty, the extra income taxes many couples pay that they would not owe if single. It would let projected annual surpluses be used to reduce the accumulated $5.5 trillion national debt, and for people to set up personal investments that could reinforce their retirement plans.

A proposed $1.72 trillion budget for 1999 calling for the reductions is likely to be opposed by every Democrat on Kasich's committee. They say the blueprint's spending cuts would hurt domestic programs because Republicans would shield Social Security, defense and other parts of the budget. They also say the cuts are unlikely to be enacted anyway because of opposition by Clinton and the more moderate Senate. "We know this is primarily a political ritual," said Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, the budget panel's top Democrat.

The congressional budget, which doesn't need the president's signature, is a guideline that sets binding tax and spending totals. Actual, specific changes in tax and spending laws must be made in separate, future bills that do require a presidential signature.

Kasich crafted his plan amid cries by conservatives that with House control at stake this November, GOP voters have to be motivated to go to the polls.

But many GOP moderates believe Kasich's spending reductions would cut many domestic programs too deeply, while some conservatives say it is not bold enough. As a result, it is unclear whether the plan will have to be changed before the full House votes on it after lawmakers return from their Memorial Day recess next month.

"Beats me," House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said when asked whether changes would have to be made. "We won't know that until we get back in June."

Aiming to nail down votes, Kasich last week dropped plans to list $100 billion in specific savings that many moderates had objected to. They ranged from trimming food stamps spending to eliminating Clinton's Americorps national service program.

In unusually strong terms, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., also criticized Kasich's plan on Tuesday.

He questioned why Republicans should make damaging cuts in some domestic programs to pay for tax cuts even as Congress considers tobacco legislation that could raise hundreds of billions of fresh revenue for the government. He said Clinton's opposition to additional spending cuts made their enactment unrealistic.

"It's just a mockery," he said.

Teach Your Child About Politics

by Joseph Sobran

Because I write about politics, people are forever asking me the best way to teach children how our system of government works. I tell them that they can give their own children a basic civics course right in their own homes.

In my own experience as a father, I have discovered several simple devices that can illustrate to a child's mind the principles on which the modern state deals with its citizens. You may find them helpful, too.

For example, I used to play the simple card game War with my son. After a while, when he thoroughly understood that the higher ranking cards beat the lower ranking ones, I created a new game I called Government. In this game, I was Government, and I won every trick, regardless of who had the better card. My boy soon lost interest in my new game, but I like to think it taught him a valuable lesson for later in life.

When your child is a little older, you can teach him about our tax system in a way that is easy to grasp. Offer him, say, $10 to mow the lawn. When he has mowed it and asks to be paid, withhold $5 and explain that this is income tax. Give $1 to his younger brother, and tell him that this is "fair". Also, explain that you need the other $4 yourself to cover the administrative costs of dividing the money. When he cries, tell him he is being "selfish" and "greedy". Later in life he will thank you.

Make as many rules as possible. Leave the reasons for them obscure. Enforce them arbitrarily. Accuse your child of breaking rules you have never told him about. Keep him anxious that he may be violating commands you haven't yet issued. Instill in him the feeling that rules are utterly irrational. This will prepare him for living under democratic government.

When your child has matured sufficiently to understand how the judicial system works, set a bedtime for him and then send him to bed an hour early. When he tearfully accuses you of breaking the rules, explain that you made the rules and you can interpret them in any way that seems appropriate to you, according to changing conditions. This will prepare him for the Supreme Court's concept of the U.S. Constitution as a "living document".

Promise often to take him to the movies or the zoo, and then, at the appointed hour, recline in an easy chair with a newspaper and tell him you have changed your plans. When he screams, "But you promised!", explain to him that it was a campaign promise.

Every now and then, without warning, slap your child. Then explain that this is defense. Tell him that you must be vigilant at all times to stop any potential enemy before he gets big enough to hurt you. This, too, your child will appreciate, not right at that moment, maybe, but later in life.

At times your child will naturally express discontent with your methods. He may even give voice to a petulant wish that he lived with another family. To forestall and minimize this reaction, tell him how lucky he is to be with you the most loving and indulgent parent in the world, and recount lurid stories of the cruelties of other parents. This will make him loyal to you and, later, receptive to schoolroom claims that the America of the postmodern welfare state is still the best and freest country on Earth.

This brings me to the most important child-rearing technique of all: lying. Lie to your child constantly. Teach him that words mean nothing - or rather that the meanings of words are continually "evolving", and may be tomorrow the opposite of what they are today.

Some readers may object that this is a poor way to raise a child. A few may even call it child abuse. But that's the whole point: Child abuse is the best preparation for adult life under our form of Government


WASHINGTON -- The latest Chinagate eruption differs from all previous Clinton controversies because it doesn't require people to hear a lot of grisly stuff about the president's lust or his wife's greed. This one focuses on the simple issue of incompetence.

In less than six years as commander in chief, Bill Clinton has done what Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and the rest of the Cold War tyrants couldn't accomplish. He has drained the American military of its muscle, crippled its will, sucked the brains from the intelligence establishment and removed what backbone remained in the foreign-policy establishment.

Nobody fears us anymore. Nobody respects us. The word has gotten out: If you want the United States to treat you well, behave badly.

When North Korea began threatening South Korea with nuclear annihilation, we gave them a bunch of nuclear reactors and ordered them to start behaving -- within 10 years. When China provoked a confrontation with Taiwan, the president relaxed export restrictions -- clearing the way for the communist regime in Beijing to develop an incredible arsenal.

When the Serbs commit atrocities, we hold press conferences. When the Russians sell sensitive technology to Iran, we threaten to put less ice in Boris Yeltsin's drinks. We punished India for detonating bombs by selling it a strategically useful supercomputer -- and then threatening economic sanctions.

This week, the administration relaxed sanctions against Iran -- which the State Department again has dubbed the world's foremost exporter of terrorism. We did the same for Libya, No. 2 on the terror list. And, of course, we tried to talk Pakistan back from the nuclear brink by offering to fulfill an old order for $600 million worth of fighter jets.

Is it any wonder heads of state laugh when we lecture them on the evils of nuclear proliferation? The question is whether our bungling is the result of accident or design. To find an answer, let us examine the case of China.

Soon after taking office, Bill Clinton authorized a dramatic change in the rules governing the sale of supercomputers. He gave the Department of Commerce permission to sell units that were more than 20 times as fast as anything we ever had permitted beyond our borders.

We sold them to such nations as India and China. Although the machines ostensibly were sent to help other nations create nuclear power plants, we didn't monitor their uses. Now, intelligence reports indicate that the computers play crucial roles in both countries' weapons-development efforts.

The administration also let loose highly sensitive encryption technology that gives China the capability of decoding some of our own spy satellite transmissions. The president personally authorized that transfer over the objections of the State and Defense departments, and the intelligence establishment.

The administration permitted two companies with close Democratic ties, Hughes Aircraft and Loral Space & Communications Ltd., to help China launch American satellites that contained encryption microchips. When one such launch went awry, American teams went to search the wreckage. They found a Loral satellite more or less intact -- except for the encription microchips, which were missing!

Subsequently, China got U.S. help in fixing up its rockets to avoid future explosions. The mishap thus produced two perverse results: China now not only has the microchips, it also can hit the United States with nuclear weapons. All but five of the communist nation's 18 ICBMs are aimed at us. To top it off, those rockets within a decade will have the ability to launch 10 warheads apiece, rather than just one -- also thanks to American know-how.

China got access to all this stuff because the Clinton administration invited it to. The White House wiped away many previous controls on the export of sensitive equipment or technology. It transferred responsibility for evaluating the sales from the Departments of Defense and State, which tend to view such things through the prism of national security, to the Department of Commerce, which looks for a quick buck.

As all this was going on, an interesting cadre of characters were making Camp Clinton safe for espionage. The president placed John Huang in the Department of Commerce, ostensibly in a mid-level job. But Huang moved in only the highest circles.

He pressured the administration to put Bernard Schwartz on a 1994 trade mission to China. Schwartz is the head of Loral (the satellite maker) and the most generous contributor this decade to the Democratic Party. Schwartz got on the trip and later secured a billion-dollar contract with China. His company may have breached national security when it sent satellites to China, but the president signed an executive order that made Loral's behavior legal -- an ex post facto pardon.

While Huang worked at the Commerce Department, he received 37 classified briefings from the CIA on -- you guessed it -- satellite encryption technology. He regularly sent packages to China, showed up at the Chinese embassy and maintained a private office outside the Commerce Department, from which he made hundreds of calls to Asia.

Scandal devotees will recall that Huang received a top-secret security clearance without a background check. The unusual clearance became effective six months before he officially went to work for the government and remained effective a year after he left Uncle Sam's employ.

He managed also to get involved with Johnny Chung -- who has told federal investigators that he received $300,000 from the daughter of China's top military man and that he routed at least one-third of that sum to the Democratic Party -- and Charlie Trie, who escorted several top Chinese officials (including at least two top arms merchants) into the White House.

This kind of security breach tops anything we know about in modern times. And what did we get in return?

We got a made-in-the-USA nuclear arms race in what rapidly is becoming the most unstable area of the world -- the Asia-Pacific region. India and Pakistan have nukes -- or the capability to manufacture them. Indonesia is in the midst both of a melt-down and an arms build-up. Malaysia has been increasing its defense spending at a clip of nearly 10 percent per year. North Korea continues to create problems. And China helps arm virtually every one of them.

You don't have to get into the vagaries of Democratic Party fundraising to understand that the administration's casual attitude toward national security has placed us all in some jeopardy. If the White House were as jealous of our technological secrets as it is of the president's personal ventures, we could breathe easy. Unfortunately, we can't -- and our new insecurity is the result not of dumb luck, but of dumb and deliberate policy.

Calif. Foster Kids Drugged

LOS ANGELES - Thousands of children in California's group and foster homes are being given mood-altering medications, many of which have never been tested for use on children, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Los Angeles Times said children are being drugged in combinations and dosages that psychiatric medication experts believe are risky and may cause irreparable harm.

The drugs are sometimes given as "chemical straightjackets," just to keep children obedient and docile for their overburdened caretakers, according to the newspaper, which reviewed court files and prescription records, observed group homes and interviewed judges, attorneys and child welfare workers and doctors.

No foster children in California are known to have died from excessive or improper medications. But child advocates believe prescription drugs may have been involved in some cases where death was blamed on unexplained heart arrhythmia or other organ failures.

Other children have suffered drug-induced psychoses, hallucinations, abnormal heart activity, uncontrollable tremors, liver problems and loss of bowel control, according to health professionals, attorneys and court records.

Child welfare officials said they don't know how many of the state's 100,000 foster children are taking the medications, in part because of lack of oversight.

Dependency court judges in Los Angeles County, which has nearly half the state's foster children, approved requests last year for more than 400 doctors to medicate more than 4,500 children. But a county grand jury found that nearly half the group home children it examined were drugged without court or parental consent.

John Tobin, Los Angeles County's mental health coordinator, said the sheer number of doctors treating children makes quality control nearly impossible.

The problem is not exclusive to Los Angeles County, according to experts statewide.

"We sometimes don't know who put kids on drugs and why," said Nathan Nishimoto, an Orange County Department of Children and Family Services official.

At the Orangewood Children's Home in Orange County, children as young as three have access to the drug cart where they can take medications that control their "depression" and "rage."

Many psychiatrists defend the use of these medications, saying the benefits of using them outweigh future risks of harm.

"The doctors don't have time to make an assessment. The fastest thing is to use chemical straitjackets on the kids-and some of them probably need it," said Stephen M. Stahl, a University of California at San Diego professor who teaches psychopharmacology. "You're forced to use drugs because the group homes are understaffed and they're unnatural environments."

Espy Prober Says Reno Blocked Path Of Inquiry

Political Pressure From Tyson Alleged

Independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz, who brought an indictment against former agriculture secretary Mike Espy last year, made a rare public attack on Attorney General Janet Reno last night, citing specific instances in which she has blocked his investigation and alleging she "wouldn't even touch" an allegation his probe turned up about President Clinton.

In an interview broadcast yesterday, Smaltz told PBS's "Frontline" that the institution of the independent counsel "is in severe jeopardy. The president and the attorney general have authorized surrogates to publicly condemn the independent counsel as incompetent, as a bunch of raving lunatics, affiliated somehow with very partisan right-wing politics, which is very untrue. The statute . . . doesn't seem to have any spokesperson for it. There is a very compelling case to be made for it."

Smaltz described for the first time a 1995 meeting with Reno and her top aides after she blocked his request to expand his probe to include an allegation that Tyson Foods officials had delivered cash to then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. "We were not investigating the president. But if Tyson did give cash to public officials, then that would be relevant to our investigation," Smaltz said.

He also implied Reno had succumbed to political pressure in that matter. "My sense was that Tyson was putting a lot of pressure on the Justice Department," he said. He claimed that the Arkansas poultry company got Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) to go to the department to block Smaltz. "First of all we had Dickey running around, saying I'm crazy. . . . Now we have the attorney general allegedly saying I can't investigate anything about Tyson, all right? Now you add those things up and you try and bring witnesses forward. It doesn't work."

Bert Brandenberg, Reno's spokesman, said yesterday he was "mystified" by Smaltz's comments. "Everyone knows that the attorney general has gone out of her way to not comment in any way that could be viewed as interfering with any independent counsel," he said. "She probably would refuse to spell the word Smaltz if a reporter asked her."

Brandenberg declined to respond specifically to Smaltz's charges and noted that Justice officials had also declined "Frontline's" interview request because department rules prohibit prosecutors from publicly discussing pending cases.

When he presented his case against Tyson to Reno, "she wouldn't look at it," Smaltz told "Frontline." "She wouldn't even touch it." After the meeting, he said, he told his wife "for the first time since I've been here, I'm afraid." He said he wasn't fearful of his personal safety. "I was afraid that some organization could have that much influence with the United States government to cause" Reno and her top aides to focus on "my little old investigation."

In an apparent reference to the recent controversy over Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's long-running investigation of the president, Smaltz added: "I mean, you're seeing some of the same things today, when if you can demonize the independent counsel, the reluctance of people to come forward and give evidence, as is their obligation and duty, is going to be chilled."

Smaltz also described another battle with Justice, over his prosecution of Ronald Blackley, Espy's longtime top aide, whom Smaltz said he viewed as "a link in the chain."

When Smaltz testified about that dispute at a congressional hearing last December, he attributed his problems not to politics, but to the department's desire to "rein in" the independence of the outside prosecutors. At the time, he declined to discuss the Tyson matter.

A few weeks after the hearing, Tyson pleaded guilty to giving $12,000 in gifts to Espy and agreed to pay a $4 million fine and $2 million to cover investigative expenses.

Smaltz's investigation of Espy has generated controversy ever since his appointment in September 1994. He has won 10 convictions and millions of dollars in fines. Some of Smaltz's targets, including Espy's brother, have been acquitted or had convictions overturned. Espy was indicted last August on charges of soliciting gifts worth more than $35,000 from companies he was supposed to be regulating, including Tyson. The trial has been delayed while Smaltz appeals a judge's decision to dismiss four of the counts.

Disputed Statistics Fuel Politics in Youth Smoking

By BARRY MEIER, Wednesday, May 20, 1998

It is the mantra of the nation's opponents of smoking: that sweeping changes in the way cigarettes are marketed and sold over the next decade will stop thousands of teen-agers each day from starting the habit and spare a million youngsters from untimely deaths.

President Clinton recently warned, for example, that one million people would die prematurely if Congress did not pass tobacco legislation this year. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the author of a $516 billion tobacco bill, has urged lawmakers to stop "3,000 kids a day from starting this life-threatening addiction."

But with the Senate beginning debate on Monday on tobacco legislation, many experts warn that such predictions are little more than wild estimates that are raising what may be unreasonable expectations for change in youth smoking rates.

The assertion that one million lives would be saved, for example, comes from a statement by the American Cancer Society last year that a 60 percent decrease in youth smoking in coming years could reduce early deaths from diseases like lung cancer by a million. But critics say the 60 percent figure was merely a target of anti-smoking advocates, with no analysis to back it up.

Social issues often spark unfounded claims cloaked in the reason of science. But the debate over smoking, politically packaged around the emotional subject of the health of children, is charged with hyperbole, some experts say. Politicians and policy makers have tossed out dozens of estimates about the impact of various strategies on youth smoking rates, figures that turn out to be based on projections rather than fact.

"I think this whole business of trying to prevent kids from smoking being the impetus behind legislation is great politics," said Richard Kluger, the author of "Ashes to Ashes" (Knopf, 1996), a history of America's battle over smoking and health. "But it is nonsense in terms of anything that you can put numbers next to." Everyone in the tobacco debate agrees that reducing youth smoking would have major benefits because nearly all long-term smokers start as teen-agers. But only a few studies have tried to analyze how steps like price increases and bans on advertising affect youth smoking. And those have often produced contradictory results.

Consider the issue of cigarette pricing. In recent congressional testimony, Lawrence Summers, the deputy Treasury secretary, cited studies saying that every 10 percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes would produce up to a 7 percent reduction in the number of children who smoke. Those studies argue that such a drop would occur because children are far more sensitive to price increases than adults. "The best way to combat youth smoking is to raise the price," Summers said. But a recent study by researchers at Cornell University came to a far different conclusion, including a finding that the types of studies cited by Summers may be based on a faulty assumption.

Donald Kenkel, an associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell, said that earlier studies tried to draw national patterns by correlating youth smoking rates and cigarette prices in various states at a given time.

But in the Cornell study, which looked at youth smoking rates and cigarette prices over a period of years, researchers found that price had little effect. For example, the study found that states that increased tobacco taxes did not have significantly fewer children who started smoking compared with states that raised taxes at a slower rate or not at all.

Kenkel added that he had no idea how the price increase being considered by Congress -- $1.10 per pack or more -- would affect youth smoking rates because the price of cigarettes, now an average of $2 a pack, has never jumped so much in the United States. And he added that there were so few studies on youth smoking rates and price that any estimate was a guess. "It is very difficult to do good policy analysis when the research basis is as thin and variable as this," Kenkel said.

Jonathan Gruber, a Treasury Department official, said that the Cornell study had its own methodological flaws and that the earlier findings about prices supported the department's position. He also pointed out that Canada doubled cigarette prices from 1981 to 1991 and saw youth smoking rates fall by half.

Under the tobacco legislation being considered in the United States, cigarette prices would increase by about 50 percent. And while advocates of the legislation say that the increase would reduce youth smoking by 30 percent over the next decade, they say that an additional 30 percent reduction would come through companion measures like advertising restrictions and increased penalties for store owners who sold cigarettes to underage smokers and for youngsters who bought them. The claim that comprehensive tobacco legislation would reduce youth smoking by 60 percent over the next decade is perhaps the most frequently cited number by advocates of such bills. But that figure first emerged last year in a different context and quickly came under attack.

The American Cancer Society, soon after the settlement plan was reached in June between the tobacco industry and 40 state attorneys general, said that one goal of that agreement -- a 60 percent decline in youth smoking rates over the next decade -- would spare one million children from early deaths from smoking-related diseases. The plan, which recently collapsed, would have raised cigarette prices by about 62 cents over a decade and banned certain types of tobacco advertising and promotional campaigns.

But some tobacco opponents soon found fault with the cancer society's estimates. For one, those critics pointed out that the 60 percent figure represented only a target, and that penalties would be imposed on tobacco companies if it were not reached. And the cancer society, they added, had not performed any analysis of the June deal to determine whether it could produce a 60 percent decline in youth smoking.

"They basically made up the number and I think it was totally irresponsible of them," said Dr. Stanton Glantz [Ed.Note: Mr. Glanz is the author of all of the false research currently circulating on this subject], a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. "It is like assuming that by snapping our fingers we could make breast cancer go away."

In a letter to Dr. Glantz, Dr. Michael Thun, the cancer society's vice president for epidemiology and surveillance research, acknowledged that the group's statement was based on an "if-then" projection, rather than an analysis of whether the proposal's programs would accomplish that goal. "The way the number was derived has nothing to do with what will effectively get us there," Dr. Thun said in a recent interview.

The new 60 percent estimate is based on a different formulation. But it, like the cancer society statistic, also coincides with a target for reducing youth smoking that would result in industry penalties if not reached. And along with questioning the impact of price on reaching such a goal, experts are at odds over whether advertising bans and sales restrictions would produce the projected 30 percent drop in youth smoking. In California, for example, youth smoking began to decline in the early 1990's, soon after the state began one of the most aggressive anti-smoking campaigns in the country. But it has begun to rise again in recent years.

Dr. John Pierce, a professor of cancer prevention at the University of California at San Diego, said he thought that reversal might reflect the ability of cigarette makers to alter their promotional strategies to keep tobacco attractive to teen-agers even as regulators try to block them.

Last year, cigarette makers estimated that the price increase in the June plan would cause sales to drop by nearly 43 percent among all smokers over a decade. But now that Congress is considering raising prices by twice that much, producers have turned around and said that higher prices would undermine, rather than help, efforts to reduce youth smoking. Steven Duchesne, an industry spokesman, said tobacco companies thought that high cigarette prices would encourage those in the black market to target teen-agers. "Smugglers would sell cigarettes out of the back of trucks without checking ID's," Mr. Duchesne said.

Experts agree that unless significant changes are made in areas like price and advertising, youth smoking rates will not decline. But unlike politicians, many of them are unwilling to make predictions. Instead, they say that the passage of tobacco legislation would guarantee only one thing: the start of a vast social experiment whose outcome is by no means clear.

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