- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

She's sorry
Some think New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani was out of line in refusing a $10 million gift for the families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, wrote a letter of apology to spurned donor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, saying she regretted Mr. Giuliani had turned down the offer over the prince's suggestion that U.S. policy in the Middle East was partly to blame for the attacks, Cox News Service reports.
The lawmaker's letter said Mr. Giuliani should recognize Mr. bin Talal's right to offer observations on the Middle East. "Whether he agreed with you or not," she wrote, "I think he should have recognized your right to speak and make observations about a part of the world which you know so well."
Ms. McKinney added that "many of us here in the United States have long been concerned about reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that reveal a pattern of excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces in situations where Palestinian demonstrators were unarmed and posed no threat of death or serious injury to the security forces or to others."

Taking aim
Terrorism has reignited the gun debate in Congress. Gun-control advocates now argue that background checks at gun shows are necessary to increase homeland security.
"Terrorists know you can buy guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows without a background check," Brendan Daly of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told the Chicago Sun Times.
"Any anti-terrorism proposal that fails to address easy access to firearms or retention of background records is clearly inadequate," he said. "If we are going to require background checks for airline security workers, it doesn't make sense not to require them for people who buy guns."
"This is going to disgust the American public," countered Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. "They are trying to seize a political advantage on the back of a tragedy. I think most people are saying, 'Thank God for the Second Amendment,' including the airline pilots."

Oil slick
"Though we still lack many details of the Sept. 11 attacks, it's a good guess that oil money was involved," writes Gregg Easterbrook of the New Republic. And heavens everyone, apparently, is to blame.
"Culpability for our failure to reduce petroleum imports falls across the political spectrum. Enviros and NIMBYs are to blame for opposing domestic oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along coastal areas, and pretty much everywhere else. Right-wingers are to blame for opposing federal energy-efficiency standards and for celebrating the gas-guzzling SUV. Lefty alarmists and Hollywood airheads are to blame for terrifying the public about atomic power, which in the United States has never caused a single public death (whereas burning fossil fuel causes thousands of premature deaths annually from respiratory disease, and last month more than 6,000 Americans died in petroleum fireballs). Oilmen including Dick Cheney before he was sworn in as vice president are to blame for calling for an end to export sanctions against Iraq and Iran before these states stopped sponsoring terror. The American public is to blame for insisting on unlimited access to the cheapest possible energy and then, when something goes wrong (oil-backed terrorists, California electricity, and so on), demanding to know who is responsible for the outrage."

Hackers, attackers
The huge population of laid-off Manhattan "dot-commers" is itching to get back into action, reports the New York Post. Now there's a groundswell of support for a lobbying effort directed at Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer to establish what they're calling "e-WPA" a 21st-century version of the agency that created jobs in the Great Depression.
They have a definite mission in mind. The new "Digerateri" would be employed by the feds to do what they believe government agencies haven't been able to: set up information schemes to trace potential and past terrorists.

Sign of the times
"God Bless America," stays, at least at California's Breen Elementary School, which came under criticism by the ACLU last week for displaying the phrase on a marquee because the words send "a hurtful, divisive message" to a group of "religiously pluralistic" students.
The Rocklin Unified School District had other ideas, though.
"It's pure patriotism," district trustee Mark Klang said of the sign. "We're not going to take it down."
The school district intends to stand its ground, citing a California Supreme Court decision stating that "God Bless America" is a traditional, nonreligious, patriotic phrase.

Ambulance chaser
Tennessee political observer Glenn Reynolds got irked listening to ABC's Sam Donaldson interrogate Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson yesterday.
"It was like listening to a bad lawyer badgering a witness. Donaldson was desperate to get Tommy Thompson to say that the United States was 'unprepared.' Why? We're neither unprepared nor prepared for all contingencies," Mr. Reynolds noted. "Thompson kept trying to give sensible answers, and Sam just kept trying to bore in. I don't know what he thought he was accomplishing.
"The media are still treating this like last summer's shark-attack panic. What Thompson should have said is, 'Sam, this is a war. Nobody's safe in a war. We'll do our best to protect everyone, but things aren't normal, and there's some risk. But the risk that Americans face is nothing compared to the certain destruction facing our enemies. So buck up, man, and show some backbone here!'"

Inside McDermott
He opposes attacking Afghanistan. He opposes the anti-terrorism bill. But who is Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, asks the Seattle TImes?
"Like Sen. Edward Kennedy, [Massachusetts Democrat], McDermott is known as a partisan Democrat who stands to the left of most of his party but there is a major difference between the pragmatic Kennedy and McDermott. Kennedy has picked his battles carefully, from opposing the Supreme Court nomination of appeals Judge Robert Bork to modifying President Bush's education plan."
Mr. McDermott favors the "lost cause. Although no poll has been taken in McDermott's district since his statement against the airstrikes, the public is clearly against him nationally and by at least a 4-to-1 margin in the state," the Times noted.
"Forget the polls, McDermott says. He agrees with 18th-century English political theorist Edmund Burke: As a representative rather than a delegate, his job is not to act as a pollster for his constituents, but to vote against their wishes if he thinks they're wrong.
"'If those numbers were to hold, I perhaps don't have the safest district in the country,' Mr. McDermott said."

Silence is golden
Music could provide a comforting refuge and a venue for political expression after the terrorist attacks, says 35-year-old singer-songwriter Moby, whose birthday is Sept. 11.
"Over the last few years, I think popular music has become kind of irrelevant for a lot of people. In times of crisis, people turn to music because it does have the ability to communicate, soothe and comfort," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I just hope this will force people to re-evaluate their priorities."
He's not part of the pack, though. "Whenever I tried over the years to write political music, it ended up really strident or didactic," he said. "Trust me, I've written political songs, but thank goodness I've never released any of them."

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