Comments from around the world

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

The Houston Post on lobbyists:

Last fall, Newt Gingrich met with lobbyists in private and promised them some good times if they'd put their money on Republicans. Little did we realize that the promise included an open door for lobbyists to help run the new Congress.

But that is exactly what is happening. Charles Kahn, the top lobbyists for the powerful health-insurance industry, will become staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee, headed by Houstonian Bill Archer. Kahn is but one of several prominent lobbyists who have been hired by Republican members of Congress.

There is no law to keep lobbyists from becoming part of the powerful bureaucracy that helps formulate our laws, including laws that would affect their former employers. But given what is going on in Washington, perhaps there should be.

It is not, after all, as if Washington has a shortage of well-qualified people to handle these committee chores. These former lobbyists may have nothing but the nation's best interests at heart. Still, we have a right to be suspicious about why they would give up their handsome salaries and perks in the interest of public service.

Daily Jefferson County Union, Fort Atkinson, Wis., on the GOP agenda:

In last fall's Congressional election, the Republicans running for the House of Representatives ... wrote down what they stood for in their so-called Contract With America. ...

In a political age marred by negative campaigning and voter apathy, the Republicans finally showed America a glimpse of what the voters wanted: Candidates who stood for something, instead of just being against whatever their opponents said. ...

Instead of once again playing the role of the anti-Washington outsiders who wanted to vaguely ''fix government,'' the Contract With America hit concrete issues and proposed concrete solutions to fix government. And it focused some positive attention onto the right side of the ballot. ...

Hopefully, the Contract With America taught all politicians that accentuating the positive to eliminate the negative is what the voters want to see. And they'd like it in writing.

Times Union, Albany, N.Y., on welfare reform:

How viable is House Speaker Newt Gingrich's proposal to place some abused children in orphanages? Would it wind up costing more than welfare, as some critics have suggested?

For some perspective, consider another idea that was once advanced as an alternative to the government safety net President Bush's vaunted Points of Lights initiative.

On the surface, the concept was appealing. It would encourage private volunteers to perform acts of charity rather than rely on Washington or City Hall. It would reach out, in ... Bush's words, to organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Lions Club and countless more to step in with support services to keep the safety net intact. The idea caught on and a nonpartisan foundation was established to see it become reality. ...

How's it doing? A report by the Los Angeles Times paints a depressing though not altogether surprising picture. It turns out that the Points of Light Foundation spent more than $22 million on promotions, salaries and administrative expenses, while channeling only $4 million to service organizations. ...

Little wonder that critics foresee huge administrative expenses if orphanages become the solution to welfare. Little wonder that cynics do, too.

Le Nouveau Quotidien, Lausanne, Switzerland, on Chechnya:

The systematic destruction of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, has increased the uneasiness which has existed since the start of the Russian offensive in December.

The massacre of a people, the burning town, the presidential palace which, under the relentless bombing still holds high its immense carcass like a dark symbol of battered liberties, pose the basic question of what hope has the little man against the mighty powers. ...

The Chechen resistance shows once again that the great strength of the weak against the strong is guerrilla warfare.

Perhaps tomorrow or the day after the Russian flag will fly over the ruins of Grozny's presidential palace. But the Chechens will not pay allegiance to it and as long as one of them is able to hold a rifle in his hands, he will know where to aim it.

Comments from around the world will appear regularly in the Wildcat.

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