The Chemical Weapons Sell-Out, Etc
There is certainly a great deal to be said against the Chemical Weapons Convention the Senate ratified this week with a disturbing amount of help from Majority Leader Trent Lott, and the arguments against it have been thoroughly rehearsed in this space over the past few months.
Mr. Lott's official explanation for his and other Republicans' defection is that the U.S. is "marginally better off with [the treaty] than without it." That hardly seems an adequate reason for espousing a treaty potentially so dangerous in the absence of any hint of cooperation from the world's less civilized and peaceable nations. And some of the other explanations are equally inadequate.
There is, for example, the much-vaunted claim that Republicans achieved foreign policy "concessions" from the president in exchange for their treaty votes. One does so hate to burst anyone's bubble, but the truth is that those "concessions" are hardly written in stone.
And then there's the "promise" Mr. Lott wrung from Mr. Clinton - and even got on paper in an official letter! First of all, as anyone who has been in Washington the past five years knows only too well, Bill Clinton's word (even on paper) is hardly his bond. And in any case, one can't help being somewhat discomfited by the promise itself.
The president pledged that he would be prepared to withdraw from the treaty if parties used it to provide chemical defensive equipment, degrading U.S. chemical defenses; if chemical transfers under the pact ended the effectiveness of an international group that imposes controls on transfer of chemicals that could be used in war, and if U.S. security was jeopardized by chemical transfers or exchanges carried out under the treaty.
Pardon the skepticism, but if U.S. chemical defenses were degraded, and the effectiveness of the international regulatory group were ended, and U.S. security were jeopardized by chemical transfers or exchanges, wouldn't withdrawing from the treaty that brought about that catastrophic situation be a lot too little a lot too late?
* WOODLEY PARK VISA: Been along Connecticut Ave. lately? Seen the signs proclaiming historic Woodley Park Visa territory? Georgetowners may remember a similar program last year. The gimmicks help promote businesses that accept Visa. This selling of Ward 3 rests with the D.C. Committee to Promote Washington, that quasi-government organization that gets tons of taxpayer money but whose public interest is a mystery to all D.C. taxpayers. What bright ideas does the committee have for unfortunate business souls east of the Anacostia River? The Committee to Promote's latest campaign snips at the heels of yet another boondoggle. City officials blew $35,250 on tickets for the Clinton inaugural - on tickets that were never used and money the city is unlikely to recover. That waste came about after the D.C. Office on Tourism funneled $60,000 to the Committee to Promote, which actually purchased 400 tickets at $150 a whop. While taxpayers can kiss that money goodbye - and the Visa campaign dough as well - and although the D.C. auditor has launched a probe into the expenditures, a burning question remains. Why oh why, of all the cities in the United States of America, does the nation's capital need an Office on Tourism?
* EITHER/OR: Talk about wanting to eat your cake an d have it, too. This week, former NAACP head Benjamin Chavis - now known as Benjamin Chavis Muhammad - went before a panel of the United Church of Christ. His mission: to convince the church he should be allowed to remain a minister of the church - despite the fact that he joined Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam in February.
Mr. Chavis Muhammad, who was a minister in the church for, as he told reporters, "most of my life," spent 90 minutes trying to convince the panel that he should keep his ministry. …