Cities, Clinton, cancer, Japan, Miss Derek, etc.

Posted: Dec 21, 2001 12:00 AM
A roundup of recent items generally unrelated to the War Against Terror.... In case you missed it: The U.S. Supreme Court suspended Bill Clinton's privilege to appear before it as a practicing lawyer. The suspension followed rather automatically from the Arkansas Supreme Court's $25,000 fine of Clinton and five-year suspension of his right to practice in the state. The Arkansas court acted primarily on the basis of Federal District Judge Susan Webber Wright's 1999 finding in the Paula Jones case that Clinton was "in contempt of court for his willful failure to obey this court's discovery order." She ruled he knowingly lied in a deposition and fined him $90,000. Clinton then resigned from the Supreme Court Bar just hours before his disbarment - following the Court's suspension - it would have become automatic Even the Democratic left in Congress has demonstrated some genuine bipartisanship on defense, terror, and bailing out the airlines. But the usual suspects are still hanging partisanly (and ideologically) tough on judicial nominees and administration appointments, drilling in Alaska, and the president's second tax-cut/economic-stimulus package. So stay tuned. Urbanologist Joel Kotkin has this to say about the 9/11 implications for major cities: "[They] should rely not on handouts and tax breaks to developers and companies, as has been the case in the past, but on an unleashing of the entrepreneurial instincts and assets of our urban population. ... The key to the next urban renaissance lies [not in multi-billion-dollar bailouts but in] luring the often talented and highly motivated minority that craves the edginess and personal contact that only great agglomerations can provide. To do so, and to fend off challenges from second-tier cities, major urban centers like New York must give priority to those issues that matter most to this demographic: cultural amenities, lower taxes, greater public safety, and clean streets." Maybe the best news of the year: from an Associated Press dispatch: "A microscopic cancer 'smart bomb' powered by a radioactive atom is able to find and kill tumor cells in laboratory experiments. ... Tests exposing the caged atom to laboratory cultures showed that it could kill a variety of cancers, including cells of leukemia, lymphoma, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer." About a month before things turned to mush for Yasser Arafat, 89 U.S. senators - in a letter - urged President Bush not to restrain Israel from retaliating in full against Palestinian terror. That was a good thing. Less good was (b) U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (with House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt) on the campaign trail in Mexico. Yes, indeed: The Dems (Daschle accompanied by his wife Linda) said on the Mexico hustings they will seek in Congress to legalize millions of illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States - the clear intent being that if the Dems succeed, the newly legalized ultimately will vote for you-know-whom. QUESTION: Is Egypt, which recently sent 23 Egyptian men to jail for practicing homosexual sex, a "moderate Arab country"? In Christmas, Fla., from Thanksgiving until late December, Jack James annually spends six hours a day opening letters from youngsters, then responds with a postcard bearing the familiar elf's image and the words, "Lots of love, Santa." This year, because of the anthrax scare, he went forward with the job - but wearing a mask and protective gloves. The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes recently noted "the worst part" of post-9/11 national brotherhood: "Not only has the war on terrorism brought out the best in Bush..., it's also brought out the best in Democrats. They've quit whining about a stolen presidency. They wear American flag pins in their lapels. They're pro-defense, pro-intervention, and pro-bombing. Some members of the former party of doves - Sen. Joe Biden and Sen. Joe Lieberman - sound more hawkish than Bush." President Bush apparently has named Bo Derek to the Kennedy Center's board of trustees. Right-set swells may be outraged that Ms. Derek's principal contribution to the nation's artistic landscape is her "10" looks. Yet she is one of the few actresses (as opposed to actors) tough enough to break through Hollywood's glass ceiling of liberalism (OK: name five others). For this daring Derek maneuver from the high board, with a degree of difficulty of 8.6, the president gets a 10. On a "patients' bill of rights," most Democrats want to allow patient suits of insurers and employers essentially for medical malpractice; Republicans want to restrict or deny such suits on the grounds that (a) they will tie up the judicial system and (b) they will drive up the costs of health insurance. Yet: If suits overwhelm the judicial system and thereby work for the replacement of "managed care" by contractual arrangements between patients and doctors, then who could ask for more? The National Wildlife Federation's new three-story $17-million headquarters, in Reston, Va., is an odd duck. Post reporter Peter Whoriskey finds that "for a national organization leading a 'Smart Growth and Wildlife' campaign against suburban sprawl and the threat it poses to species as diverse as the Florida panther, the black-tailed prairie dog, and the Pacific salmon, the headquarters [just off the Dulles Toll Road] ... looks a lot like sprawl." What's with Japan? Forbes editor Steve Forbes puts it this way, in an editorial: "Argentina's woes dominate the financial headlines, but an even greater catastrophe is unfolding: Japan. The Japanese government recently announced that Japan's slump is deepening. More ominous, its financial system is on the brink of disaster as its banks, including the large ones, reel from the catastrophically growing volume of non-performing loans. Japan's life insurance industry is also hemorrhaging. Millions of whole-life policies are guaranteeing returns in excess of what companies can earn on government bonds. The government's inability to deal with the crisis is frightening."