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August 3, 2001

H.L. Mencken once noted that change is not necessarily progress, but this week it is. With a single exception which could yet break our way, this week’s Friday follow-ups are a series of happy endings – or at least positive developments.

Fast Track Sidetracked

Republican vote-counters are coming up short, and we’re not talking about Palm Beach County. The issue is fast track – repackaged as ‘trade promotion authority’ by the Bush PR people – the unconstitutional prerogative of a president to make unamendable trade deals. The White House wants the deal sealed before November when the WTO meets in Qatar, but Republicans on the Hill can’t find the votes. House Majority Leader Dick Armey said this week, "The long and short of it is we don't have enough Democratic votes." The long and short of it, Mr. Armey, is that you’ve got a bad bill, and neither party should sign on to the sell-out.

Mexican Trucks Stall in the Senate

The Senate has said no go to President Bush’s plan to open U.S. highways to hazardous Mexican trucks carting NAFTA cargo. Over veto threats from the White House and an ultimatum from Mexican President Vicente Fox that he’ll close their roads in retaliation, the Senate approved legislation requiring tough inspection and insurance standards. Opponents are threatening to rewrite the bill in conference committee, and the President’s veto vow still stands. Stay tuned…

Strike One Against Stem Cell Research

This week, by a 265-162 vote, the House dealt a death blow to the Frankenstein caucus by banning all human cloning – including embryonic cloning for research purposes. While proponents claimed that the "leftovers of fertility treatments" would be sufficient to conduct their grisly experiments, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told The American Spectator, "It takes six dead fetuses to treat one Parkinson’s patient…making it difficult to see how there would be enough fetal tissue" to treat the one million Parkinson’s sufferers "anytime soon." To make up the difference, the Biotechnology Industry Organization recommended cloning as "a critical and necessary step in the production of sufficient quantities of vigorous replacement cells for the clinical treatment of patients." The mask is off. Cloning is a critical component of the embryonic stem cell scheme, and while advocates have yet to raise the white flag, they cannot count this vote as anything but a loss.

Onward to ANWR

While liberals continue to indulge fantasies of a nonexistent arctic nirvana, the House is taking action to tap the 16 billion barrels of oil beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By a close 223-206 vote, the House passed President Bush’s 500-page energy plan along with its controversial ANWR component. As the measure heads for the Upper House, Senators gone green are already muttering filibuster and reaching out to the GOP’s moderate northeastern wing. Expect a frosty fight.


Mary Sheila Gall isn’t going down without a fight. Yesterday the Democrat majority on the Senate Commerce Committee denied Miss Gall, President Bush’s nominee to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a hearing before the full Senate. Her crime? Sterling conservative credentials. All 12 Committee Democrats turned thumbs down, but a counterpunch may be coming. According to this morning’s Washington Times, "The White House said it is negotiating a strategy with Republican senators to jump-start Miss Galls’ nomination after the August recess, and has not ruled out a recess appointment."

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