- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2002

State lobbying

The White House's drug czar urged Nevada residents yesterday to reject a state ballot initiative legalizing possession of up to three ounces of marijuana, saying the measure would lead to more drug use.

"I don't think Las Vegas and Nevada want to become the center for drug tourism," said John P. Walters, the head of the federal Office of Drug Control Policy.

Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement collected more than 60,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the Nov. 5 ballot, the Associated Press reports. The group's leader, Billy Rogers, said Nevadans think it's a waste of tax dollars to arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

"Nevadans are sick and tired of the federal government telling them what to do," Mr. Rogers said.

Until last year, Nevada had the strictest marijuana law in the nation. It made smoking a single marijuana cigarette a felony. Now, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

The initiative would tax marijuana like cigarettes and other tobacco products, and allow it to be sold in state-licensed shops. Public use would be banned and minors would not be able to buy the drug.

To become law, the change needs voter approval this year and in 2004. But whether it could ever actually take effect is not clear. Federal law bans marijuana possession, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that states cannot make exceptions for medicinal use.

Apparently oblivious

Citigroup honcho Robert Rubin, who served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, finds himself in the spotlight now that Citigroup has been accused of helping scandal-ridden Enron cover up its financial woes.

But that news apparently has yet to reach the ears of David Broder, columnist for The Washington Post.

In his column yesterday part of a continuing campaign to have President Bush abandon scheduled income-tax cuts Mr. Broder referred to Mr. Rubin as a man "whose judgment and integrity are praised by Republicans and Democrats alike."

Hillary vs. the Supremes

The Bush vs. Gore presidential-election case is an example of a hypocritical Supreme Court majority that broadens the rights of states only when it serves conservative ends, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, said.

Mrs. Clinton criticized the court's recent trend of 5-4 cases that have favored state power over federal control. The case that ended Florida ballot recounts in the disputed 2000 presidential election was also a 5-4 vote, but it stripped a state of power to administer its own laws, the former first lady said.

"Perhaps even more disturbing than the court's impulse to defend state and local prerogatives is the selectivity of that impulse," Mrs. Clinton told law students, lawyers and judges at the liberal American Constitution Society.

States win the power struggle when they want to claim immunity from civil rights lawsuits or get tough on criminals, but not when they want to limit cigarette ads, help fund legal help for poor people, or "follow their own election laws," Mrs. Clinton said.

Mrs. Clinton called the court led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist "one of the most activist, if not the most activist, Supreme Court ever in American history," adding: "In addition to installing an American president, the current Supreme Court has invalidated federal laws at an astounding rate in our nation's history."

The latter remark prompted "applause and laughter," the Associated Press reports.

Matthews falls ill

Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC talk show "Hardball," has been hospitalized with malaria, which he may have contracted during one of his recent trips to Africa or the Middle East.

He is expected to recover and leave Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington by week's end and return to the screen next week. Mike Barnicle has been filling in as host of the nightly political talk show since Mr. Matthews entered the hospital late Monday.

"He felt fatigued, sweaty and exhausted yesterday and went into the hospital," MSNBC spokeswoman Cheryl Daly told the Associated Press. "He's doing fine."

The Mr. Matthews recently had his contract at MSNBC extended to 2009, and the show last week moved from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where it hurts

California state Controller Kathleen Connell is refusing to pay elected officials, including state lawmakers and the governor, until a three-week budget standoff is resolved, the Associated Press reports.

"We are getting to the point where we are having bills that have been presented to the state that cannot be paid," said Miss Connell, a Democrat who's in charge of cutting state workers' paychecks and paying the state's bills.

The Assembly has been unable to pass the $99.1 billion budget and $3.6 billion in tax increases needed to help balance it. The plan crafted by Gov. Gray Davis to close a $23.6 billion budget deficit was supposed to go into effect July 1.

Most of the state's 250,000 non-legislative workers are being paid this week, Miss Connell said. But paychecks weren't sent out this month to hundreds of elected and appointed officials, including members of the legislature, the governor's Cabinet and Miss Connell herself.

Mr. Davis commended Miss Connell yesterday, saying lawmakers "need to set the example." Mr. Davis also withheld elected officials' paychecks when he was state controller during budget delays in the recession of the early 1990s.

Phony 'science'

"Scientists aren't sure that global warming is taking place, or that if it is it will be bad for us, or that in any case we can do anything at all about it. But California is going to try anyway, no matter how much it costs," the Wall Street Journal says, referring to a new California law to regulate automobile emissions of carbon dioxide.

Although climatologists readily concede that their computer models of global warming are "primitive, theoretical and need a lot more work before they can usefully make policy," politicians like those in California "turn fiction to fact, or worse, meddle with the science itself," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"A good example is the 2000 U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change, the first report on what global warming means for the U.S. The Assessment was political from the start: It was put together by a team of scientists (containing only two credentialed climatologists) picked by Al Gore minions.

"And voila, amid dozens of climate models, the Gore scientists chose two showing the most extreme warming outcomes. Naturally, a draft of this Armageddon report came out just in time for Mr. Gore's presidential campaign. Patrick Michaels, former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, wrote that the report was 'so misleading, so misstated and so ignores or underplays so many facts that it is truly difficult to formulate a comprehensive commentary.'

"Yet this bad science lives on to influence our politics, as in California. Politicians still quote the study. Even the Bush administration, which had a chance to set the record straight, let its bureaucracy base part of its own recent report to the U.N. on the same phony conjecture."

Cry for justice

The widow of a U.S. missionary killed when Philippine troops began a bid to rescue her and her husband from Muslim guerrillas said yesterday after meeting President Bush that the group must pay for its crimes.

Gracia Burnham, who survived the rescue attempt, said at the White House that the Abu Sayyaf group, which held her and her husband, Martin, for a year, must face justice, Agence France-Presse reports.

"They are criminals and deserve to be punished," said a composed but solemn Mrs. Burnham, when asked by reporters about Abu Sayyaf, which is linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

She said that Mr. Bush had been very sympathetic to her plight, and had assured her he would keep up the fight against global terrorism "to make the world a better place for our children."

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