- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2000

Spanning continents

"A local resident returned from London with the attached newspaper item. The reception accorded [President] Clinton was not so reported in our U.S. press," writes one Inside the Beltway reader, referring to President Clinton's address this month to the Russian parliament.

The newspaper clipping, from the London Times, opined that Mr. Clinton's "folksy tone" might serve him well in Arkansas, but his powers of persuasion fell far short of charming the State Duma.

In fact, the newspaper reported those Russian deputies who bothered to turn up there were many empty seats calmly read the papers or stared at their watches.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, deputy speaker of the Duma, acknowledged that the audience was packed with "bureaucrats, cleaners and security guards," barely 20 percent of them deputies, who were told to clap when Mr. Clinton arrived and departed.

"Clinton will think that he was warmly received by the deputies. But he wasn't," admitted Mr. Zhirinovsky.

But the real action was in the corridors, the Times reported, when Mr. Clinton was ambushed by a woman shouting: "Bill, drop your trousers and show us what a sex boss you are."

Judge's warning

This column touched base over the weekend with Tom Gresham, columnist for Guns & Ammo magazine and host of "Tom Gresham's Gun Talk," a popular radio show broadcast in 100 markets across the country.

"It's a three-hour live program on Sundays that is kind of a cross between 'Car Talk' and Rush [Limbaugh], but on the topic of guns," Mr. Gresham explains.

Recently, Mr. Gresham traveled to New Orleans to sit in on arguments in the Emerson Case, important proceedings for Second Amendment supporters being heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The original decision by Judge Sam Cummings is a work of art, Mr. Gresham notes, tracing the history of government restriction of arms ownership (swords, armor, firearms) back to England, before there was a United States of America.

Now, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is asking some tough questions of a government attorney, showing they aren't buying into the federal government's assertion that because a firearm once traveled across state lines it is "involved in interstate commerce."

An important point, because if a firearm did not cross state lines, it is a state matter and the federal government has no jurisdiction.

Observed Fifth Circuit Judge Harold R. DeMoss Jr.: "I have a 16-gauge shotgun in my closet at home. I have a 20-gauge shotgun. I also have a 30-caliber rifle at home. Are you saying these are in or affecting interstate commerce?"

"Yes," the government lawyer replied.

Said Fifth Circuit Senior Judge Will Garwood: "You are saying that the Second Amendment is consistent with a position that you can take guns away from the public? You can restrict ownership of rifles, pistols and shotguns from all people? Is that the position of the United States?"

"Yes," the government lawyer replied.

Judge DeMoss told the lawyer: "You shouldn't let it bother your sleep that Judge Garwood and I, between us, own enough guns to start a revolution in most South American countries."

Still marchingStill marchingStill marching

A long overdue hearing on the Bataan Death March and its thousands of victims will be held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, taking testimony from American POWs compelled to work under horrific conditions and subjected to severe beatings and human rights abuses.

"We have gone over 50 years without a voice and without assistance from our government," says V.O. "Johnny" Johnson, a former POW who applauds committee Chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, for recognizing the government slight.

Mr. Hatch notes that many Americans survived the death march only to return home and face another obstacle their own government.

Says former POW Harold Poole: "This is a crucial time in our lives and our fight for recognition of the literal hell we endured at the hands of the Japanese companies. We, the veterans of World War II, are dying at the rate of more than 1,000 a day and have already waited too long for justice."

Spooks galore

Espionage buffs will be crowding into the National Archives at noon tomorrow to hear Linda McCarthy, a 24-year veteran of the CIA, talk about her book with the intriguing title "Spies, Pop Flies, and French Fries: Stories I Told My Favorite Visitors to the CIA Exhibit Center."

We're told her topics tomorrow include the Corona spy-satellite program, spy catchers, and the famous "Limping Lady of the OSS," Virginia Hall. The Office of Strategic Services was the precursor to the CIA.

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