- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

'Poetic' bomber?
"I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
So says Bill Ayers, former leader of the Weather Underground, a terrorist group formed within the student protest movement in the late 1960s. In his new memoir, Mr. Ayers claims responsibility for bombing the Pentagon in 1972.
Now 56, Mr. Ayers — who once urged students to "kill your parents" — says he still finds "a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance."
All those quotes, by the way, are from a cheery feature article about Mr. Ayers that appeared yesterday — on the front page of the "Arts" section of the New York Times.
Searing image
"I live on 14th and Union Square, and around a quarter of nine heard a low roar of a plane, much louder than I've ever heard in Manhattan," National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote at the magazine's Web site (www.nationalreview.com) yesterday morning.
"I idly thought, 'That's the sound people talk about when they report seeing plane crashes.'
"A couple of minutes later a friend told me to turn on the TV and I saw one of the most searing images of the decade," Mr. Lowry said.
"About a half block from my apartment is Fifth Avenue, which affords a clear view of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
"The twin towers always look a little other worldly, a little surreal as if they are painted onto the sky, and of course the effect was magnified in an unbelievable way (and now it's a sight that simply doesn't exist anymore)."

Pay to play
"Law firms chasing jackpot-size fees are showering money on politicians with influence at large public pension funds — which, in turn, are hiring them to file multimillion-dollar lawsuits against U.S. companies," USA Today reports.
"When they win, the law firms collect fees that in at least one case are expected to top $100 million," reporter Kevin McCoy said.
"Partners at a Philadelphia law firm sharing more than $32 million in legal fees in a class-action case against Ikon Office Solutions have contributed at least $156,000 to former mayor Edward Rendell's campaigns since 1997. The donations include support for Rendell's expected 2002 campaign for governor, a job in which he would appoint six of the state pension board's 11 members.
"Three law firms have contributed nearly $100,000 since mid-1999 to the campaign of New York state comptroller H. Carl McCall, who administers the $112 billion state retirement system as sole trustee. His office chose the three firms to represent the pension plan, which has held or shared the lead role in two major securities lawsuits."
The combination of trial lawyers' cash and politicians' help is known as "pay to play."

Oh, no, not again
Now that even some Senate Democrats are talking about more tax cuts to boost the slumping economy, the Los Angeles Times is horrified.
The newspaper, like almost every major (read liberal) newspaper in the country, had opposed the tax cut that is currently producing rebate checks in mailboxes across the country.
"With the fresh news about unemployment rising to 4.9 percent from 4.5 percent, tax cut fever is returning to Washington," the newspaper said in an editorial yesterday.
"Once again a Republican administration is set to gut the tax code and send the United States back into deficit spending. Except now the storyline isn't quite so simple. It isn't the White House but congressional Republicans and Democrats breathing fire for tax cuts. House Republicans, including House Majority Leader Dick Armey are intent on slashing the capital gains tax from 20 percent to 15 percent. And Democrats such as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad and Sen. John F. Kerry have also seized upon the ailing economy as a reason for cutting the Social Security payroll tax from its current rate of 12.4 percent in hopes of creating a short-term stimulus."
The newspaper insisted that "Piling on another tax cut will only make things worse."

Those darn tax cuts
The New York Times, which apparently labors under the belief that only rich people are invested in the stock market, chided Republicans yesterday for talking about a capital-gains-tax cut. On the other hand, the newspaper responded warmly to a suggestion by some Democrats that previously enacted tax cuts be repealed.
"That many Republicans are now rallying around a cut in the capital gains tax (from 20 to 15 percent) is a particular sign of desperation. After ramming through one of the most unfair tax cuts in history, one that targeted most of it benefits to the most wealthy taxpayers, the party is focusing on a new reduction that would lavish 80 percent of its benefit on the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers," the newspaper said in an editorial.
The newspaper added: "Democrats are saying privately that they might accept some sort of tax reduction provided the Bush administration is willing, in turn, to repeal part of the previously enacted tax cut that takes place several years from now. In theory, that may make sense. Democrats are also floating the idea of a tax cut that, this time, would go to lower-income taxpayers who got nothing out of the last package by giving them some sort of a credit for Social Security and Medicare taxes."

Newsweek's 'dark side'
"Conservatives are on 'the Dark Side' in the world of Newsweek reporter David Kaplan, who was presumably applying an analogy from the 'Star Wars' movies in which the evil characters, such as 'Darth Vader,' represented 'the Dark Side,'" the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes.
"In a portion of his new book, 'The Accidental President,' excerpted in this week's Newsweek, Kaplan recounted how Justice David Souter felt that 'if he'd had "one more day"' to make his case for not stopping the Florida recount, 'he believed he would have prevailed. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, had long ago become part of the Dark Side. O'Connor appeared beyond compromise. But Kennedy seemed within reach.'
"Monday morning on NBC's 'Today' Katie Couric quoted Kaplan's citation of how a Russian judge scowled: 'In our country we wouldn't let judges pick the President.' Kaplan marveled at how if you are Russian 'you've been hearing all these years about the American system. You kind of scratch your head and say "run this by us again."'
"Kaplan's book has a 26-word title, which might explain why the Newsweek articles never actually list it in full. But here it is: 'The Accidental President: How 413 Lawyers, 9 Supreme Court Justices and 5,160,110 Floridians, Give or Take a Few, Landed George W. Bush in the White House.' In what helps explain the skew of the book, the justices who talked to Kaplan were all on the losing side of the case.
"'The Secret Vote that Made Bush President: The Untold Story of the Supreme Court's 5-4 Ruling,' screamed the large type on the cover of the Sept. 17 Newsweek. 'Secret vote'? Didn't we all learn last December which way each justice voted?" Mr. Baker wondered.

Inside stories
"Former Senator Edward Brooke, the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, is putting the finishing touches on his autobiography — and telling friends it will have his side of the story in the messy divorce that cost him his Senate career," the Boston Globe reports.
"It will also be full of interesting inside stories about Washington politics during the 1960s and 1970s, when the now 81-year-old Brooke was in office. 'A lot of people are not going to be happy, but he doesn't care,' said one friend. 'He wants to tell the truth.'
"The prestigious William Morris Agency will be promoting the book," the newspaper said.
Mr. Brooke, a Republican, represented Massachusetts.

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