On Rihab and Biljana, kids, parents, etc

Posted: Oct 11, 2002 12:00 AM
The suave, sophisticated, ever-so-intellectual Senate may deign to support the doofus president regarding the takedown of Saddam. Impoverished longshoremen (average annual stevedore income: $106,000) are ransacking the economy and complicating the war effort with their slowdown that invited a lockout at West Coast ports. And the Democrats, following their examples two years ago in Florida (president) and Missouri (Senate), continue to try to manipulate outcomes in New Jersey (Senate) et al. Elsewhere.... In Iraq, Saddam's biological weapons director is a woman, Rihab Taha. At the Balkan war crimes trials at The Hague, a woman, Bosnia's former Serb president Biljana Plavsic, has pleaded guilty to crimes against humanity during Bosnia's 1992-1995 conflict. And, of course, there have been many earlier examples of top-ranked women presiding over terror (Mme. Defarge) and/or combat (Mmes. Meir and Thatcher and Gandhi). So what's that about the fairer gender being incapable of evil and war? At Harvard, Alan Dershowitz, a 38-year veteran of the law school, has applauded the university's president Lawrence Summers for speaking out about anti-Semitism on the campus - specifically, the proposal compelling Harvard to divest itself of all its investment holdings in any way related to Israel. Writes Dershowitz in Harvard's Crimson, "To single out the Jewish state of Israel, as if it were the worst human rights offender, is bigotry pure and simple. It would be comparable to singling out a black nation for delegitimization without mentioning worse abuses by white nations." At Yale, things similar, but different. (1) Threatened with the loss of $350 million in federal monies, the law school has decided it will allow military recruiters to attend a law-school career day - but the university nevertheless will challenge (in court?) the military's policy proscribing the recruitment of anyone openly homosexual. (2) A female sex columnist may be stanching an apparent hemorrhage of readers from the Yale Daily News. Among other things junior Natalie Krinsky writes, according to a New York Times account, about "the finer points of oral sex, the details of which will not be printed here, but (which) prompted more than 200,000 hits on the Yale paper's Web site last year." The editor who authorized the column explains: "We're in the business of covering student life. And for better or worse, sex is an integral part of student life." Exactly. If not for, like, ya know, sex - what is your basic college experience really for? Speaking of the young, how far is it from the 'burbs to the projects? Three items: (a) In connection with the appalling beating and killing of a 36-year-old man in Milwaukee, a group of boys between 10 and 16 has been charged with reckless homicide - seven of them as adults. Reported the Associated Press: "Five of the boys said their fathers are dead. One boy's father is in prison. Most of the boys have criminal histories from curfew violations to possession of cocaine and a 9-millimeter handgun." (b) The Sept. 20 homecoming dance at la-de-da Scarsdale (New York) High School turned into a drunken bacchanal. According to a New York Times account, the event "left hundreds of students falling-down drunk, 27 with three-day suspensions, and five in the hospital with acute alcohol poisoning." Some "vomited in the principal's wastebasket and passed out on his floor." A 16-year-old girl, nearly unconscious when she arrived at the event "after a round of house parties, had to have her stomach pumped - and not for the first time." And what of the parents in this lovely incident? "One set of parents, summoned by the principal to pick up their intoxicated son, sent the housekeeper instead. And after the punishments were meted out, a few parents complained that suspensions would mar their children's college transcripts." And, in light of the foregoing, real live adults in places like New Buffalo, Mich., are debating drug testing in the schools. In the words of another Times news account, the group consists of "a pastor, a basketball coach, a sheriff, a social worker, a superintendent, and assorted parents, teachers, students, and school board members. (Since August) they have debated whether a first offense should bring counseling or punishment, and whether they can best deter drug use through education or testing. They have studied the merits of urine, hair, and saliva tests. But week after weary week, they have adjourned without agreement." A Los Angeles jury has awarded a lifelong smoker, now 64 with lung cancer, $28 (BEGIN ITAL) billion in punitive damages, an amount to be paid, unless lowered on appeal, by Philip Morris. The amount, 38 percent of the company's 2001 earnings, was calculated by multiplying $1 million by the 28,000 Americans said to die annually from smoking-related lung cancer. The money is intended to punish the tobacco industry for legally selling a product whose use can be fatal. Presumably, the money also will give the plaintiff the intelligence not to smoke again. On the subject of unintelligent people, don't miss this. From the always-moderate and peopley Barbra Streisand, at the bash that raised $6 million for Democratic congressional candidates, on President Bush: "Shortly after George W. Bush was elected, sort of, I saw him on television say, 'If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.' And he laughed. You know, people never really joke. That was very revealing - a taste of things to come." On a sounder note, the likes of Ms. Streisand might profit from this observation by Krzysztof Czyzewski of Sejny, Poland, on the need to overcome ignorance and face reality, however difficult - notably the reality of Poland's too-often-willing role in the Holocaust during World War II: "You will pay a price for all ignorance - for all restrictions and ideological systems you create to escape from the truth."