- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2000

HUD's gun rebate

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo is giving gun owners a chance to "trade up," according to the New York Post.

Mr. Cuomo's agency Tuesday unveiled a program called BuyBack America, in which HUD will purchase firearms from the general public. The program was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo.

Some experts say these programs merely act as a rebate to gun owners, who then use the money to upgrade their arsenals.

"The irony is, it could increase gun sales. There is no doubt this is a publicity stunt," John R. Lott Jr., a senior research scholar at Yale University, tells the Post. "These type of programs are not directly linked to any facts. It's all feel-good politics."

HUD expects to spend $15 million on the program.

"You get a nice photo-op of people turning in their guns, but reports show half of these things aren't even operable. It's been tried, and I can't say if it's ever had an impact," said Fordham University law professor Nicholas Johnson.

Martinez's revolt

Rep. Matthew G. Martinez, the California Democrat who lost a bitter primary last month to a foe supported by a number of fellow congressional Democrats from the state, has since abandoned the Democrats on virtually every party vote, Roll Call reports.

"Democrats are aware of what's been happening and assume it can be traced to bitterness about the defeat. And if the tactics have left some Democrats frustrated, they are nevertheless resigned to fate," reporter Ethan Wallison writes.

An anonymous "top leadership aide" told the reporter: "That's the problem with an early primary. You have to live with the dead body for six months."

North Carolina contest

Less than two weeks before North Carolina's gubernatorial primary, the five major candidates hoping to succeed four-term Democratic Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. are having trouble garnering attention, the Associated Press reports.

Even Attorney General Mike Easley, who is vying with Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker for the Democratic nomination, admits as much. "Nobody is paying any attention," he said.

Battling for the Republican nomination in the May 2 primary are former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, state Rep. Leo Daughtry and former state Rep. Chuck Neely.

Mr. Hunt, governor from 1975 to 1983 and re-elected to two more terms in 1992 and 1996, is barred by state law from seeking another term.

Recent independent polls gave Mr. Easley a lead of as much as 20 points over Mr. Wicker. Mr. Vinroot, who has previously run for governor, held a small lead over Mr. Daughtry, with Mr. Neely close behind.

Irking liberals

Michael Gonzalez, deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe's editorial page, says he is "taking more than a small delight in this attack on the ethnic group I belong to."

That ethnic group is Cuban-American; they are the focus of liberal contempt because of their support for 6-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez's right to stay in America.

"Cuban-Americans can talk all they want about statistics that show comparatively high educational levels and middle-class incomes after only four decades in America. To me, there's never been a bigger sign that Cubans have succeeded in America than the total absence of any political correctness in the whole Elian story," Mr. Gonzalez writes in an opinion piece in the Journal.

"Media commentators feel free to attack Cuban-Americans in a way they never would any other ethnic group. Thus Time magazine recently referred to Cuban-Americans as a 'privileged, imperious elite who set themselves up as a pueblo sufrido, a suffering people.' And CBS's Bryant Gumbel, asking a question of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, proclaimed that 'the Cuban-American community has been supporting clear disobedience of the law.'

"Cubans irk liberals for two reasons. First, liberals harbor a latent sympathy for Fidel Castro and for communism. Second, our very success disproves the claim that 'Hispanics' or other minority groups cannot thrive in America."

Heal thyself

New York pediatrician Irwin Redlener, the federal government adviser on Elian Gonzalez, who declared this week that the 6-year-old must be shipped back to Cuba for his own good, is a longtime leftist who once compared the residents of Rome, N.Y., to World War II Germans who ignored the death camps in their own back yards.

So what was it about the citizens of Rome, N.Y., that so upset the good doctor? They failed to protest the placement of cruise missiles at a nearby military base.

Dr. Redlener is a longtime member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group that pushed for a nuclear freeze in the early 1980s, blaming the United States for all that was wrong in the world.

"Sure enough, when residents of the upstate New York city of Rome shrugged off the placement of cruise missiles at a nearby military base in 1982, Redlener saw an obvious parallel," free-lance journalist Evan Gahr writes at the American Spectator's Web site (www.spectator.org).

"The Rome residents, who had long considered nuclear weapons at the base necessary for the country's defense, were reminiscent of 'the people who lived in the villages around the concentration camps in World War II.' They 'committed themselves to denying the existence of those camps or what happened inside them, but there comes a time when we must take a look at the big picture and say 'no.' "

Mr. Gahr commented: "Given his political sensibility, who could possibly be surprised that Redlener can't send little Elian back to the worker's paradise fast enough?"

Mr. Sincerity

"So the man who promised never to lie to us has admitted to lying. John McCain's confession in South Carolina [Wednesday] that he really believes the Confederate [battle] flag should come down shows that he can still be a thorn in the side of George W. Bush, this time by reopening at the national level a debate that unites Democrats and divides Republicans," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at the Internet site of National Review (www.nationalreview.com).

"During the primaries, both men said that South Carolinians should decide for themselves what to do with the flag. Now McCain says sincerity didn't have a seat on the Straight-Talk Express: 'I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary. So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.'

"This new move is equally self-serving. McCain's main constituency, the media, believes the flag ought to come down. Now that McCain is beyond the reach of South Carolina Republicans, he's decided to do the thing that will have his biggest fans in the press rave about his integrity and moral superiority. If only Bush would be honest now, too, they'll complain, we can finally evict this awful symbol of racism from public life. How long before Al Gore inserts a new line in his stump speech, demanding that Bush join the Gore-McCain crusade?"

No better than Bill

South Carolina state Sen. Jake Knotts was one of Sen. John McCain's supporters during that state's Republican presidential primary. No more.

Mr. McCain's announcement Wednesday that he supports the efforts of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to take the Confederate battle flag off the South Carolina Statehouse, peeved Mr. Knotts and others. During the South Carolina primary, Mr. McCain said the decision on the flag was up to the state's voters.

"If he would lie on the campaign trail, he is no better than Bill Clinton," said Mr. Knotts, a flag supporter. "I feel he should not come to South Carolina and inject his opinions."

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