- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Smoking guns and dads

Who better to speak out on the terrible tragedy of school shootings than Republican Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr., who before coming to Congress was a criminal court judge in Tennessee.

So are guns the problem?

"I was told the first day that I was a judge that 98 percent of the defendants in felony criminal cases came from broken homes," the congressman says.

"During my years as a judge, I went through approximately 10,000 cases, because … 98 percent of the defendants plead guilty and apply for probation or other considerations. I would get … 12-page reports that went into the backgrounds and life histories of the defendants before me.

"I would read over and over and over again things like defendant's father left when defendant was 2 and never returned, or defendant's father left to get a pack of cigarettes and never came back."

Back to the sod

It's that time in a new administration when ambassadorial posts are awarded, often to the highest bidder.

Richard J. Egan, the newly nominated ambassador to Ireland, is the first "blue-chip" GOP donor to win an ambassadorial appointment from the Bush administration, the Center for Responsive Politics observes.

"If past practices by recent presidents from both parties are followed, he'll be the first of many to come," the center adds.

Mr. Egan, chairman of the board of EMC Corp. in Massachusetts, gave $338,100 to Republican Party committees and candidates during the 1999-2000 election cycle. The biggest contribution was $250,000 in "soft money" to the Republican National Committee on July 28, 2000.

In December, he was among the first big donors to the Bush-Cheney Inaugural Committee, writing a $100,000 check to the fund just before Christmas. The center notes that the Bush campaign also identified Mr. Egan as one of its "Pioneers" a group of individuals who raised at least $100,000 for George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

West Korea

The future of Korea and a lasting peace on the peninsula has been a hot topic in Washington, with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung last week wrapping up important meetings with President Bush and congressional leaders.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, applauds the fact that foreigners are increasingly free to travel widely in the country and talk to average North Koreans without government interference.

North Korea has even begun to issue tourist visas, so much so that the presence of foreigners in the country is gradually changing North Korean attitudes about South Korea and the West.

One American with a long history of working in North Korea, Mr. Biden says, illustrated the change under way by describing an impromptu encounter he had recently while out on an unescorted morning walk. A North Korean woman approached him and said: "You're not a Russian, are you? You're a Miguk Nom, aren't you?"

Her expression, Mr. Biden explains, translated roughly into, "You're an American imperialist bastard, eh?"

The American replied good-naturedly, "Yes, I am an American imperialist bastard."

To which the woman replied quite sincerely, "Thanks very much for the food aid"

Go figure

Legislation has been reintroduced by Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, to repeal federal provisions that ban federal financial aid to students who have been convicted of any federal or state drug offense.

As the law now stands, Mr. Frank observes: "Someone who commits murder or armed robbery is not automatically barred from financial aid eligibility, but if you have even one nonviolent drug conviction, you can't get any aid for a year."

Mailbag

"I'm a retired nuclear submarine captain and have operated north of the Arctic Circle several times," writes retired Navy Cmdr. Steve Jarrett, captain of the USS Daniel Boone, SSBN 629, regarding our item on global warming and rising sea levels.

"It amazes me that people accept the pseudo-scientific statement that the melting of the polar ice cap will cause a drastic rise in the ocean level. The North Pole ice cap floats, all of it. If it all melted, you would get the same level increase you get with a glass of ice tea melting at the kitchen table in short, nothing.

"The level would probably actually go down a little due to the higher density of the liquid water than of the ice block. So I guess all the sensationalists need to look only at the South Pole melting for their ocean-level measurements."


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