On gambling, arrogance, D.C., abstinence, etc.

Posted: Nov 21, 2002 12:00 AM
Iraq, terror, sniper prosecutions, judicial confirmations and, at last, a homeland-security agency: Much of great import is going down. Much else, too - such as... Gambling, especially Indian gambling. Various Northeastern states are seeking to close their deficits by authorizing gambling casinos and slot machines at racetracks ("racinos"). Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York may get into the act big time to compete with Connecticut and New Jersey for gambling dollars. Yet, gambling is no three-bell-fruit jackpot. The states would be wise not to overplay. Gambling is an undependable source of revenue, relying as it does on a limited - thin - sector of the population. And the Indian aspect is crucial. Giving Indian tribes the right to establish essentially tax-free, casino-based sources of revenue makes little sense without firm requirements that the Indians plow hefty percentages of the income into reservation-based schools and social welfare programs. Bobby Fischer, the chess phenomenon whose star soared from the 1950s to the 1970s, was of quasi-Communist parentage yet a detester of the Communist system. Now he seems to have freaked out on America, too. An expatriate wandering the world, he has been spotted in Japan, Hungary and the Philippines - embittered, anti-Semitic and hateful of America. It now is being reported that on Sept. 11 of last year, he went on Filipino radio to applaud the terrorist attacks and call for America to be "wiped out." Chess evidently doesn't do it for him. Those Catholic bishops finally have thrown in the towel. Meeting in Washington, they seemingly caved on key aspects of the sex abuse scandal shredding the church, and moved quickly on to Iraq -superciliously signifying against the heart of Bush administration policy. Then they went home. Noted a spokeswoman for a group supporting about 3,000 (mostly male) victims of priestly predation: "It really sums up the arrogance of the bishops that they think the church does so many good things that the fact that a few people are abused shouldn't matter much." And speaking of dubious developments in Washington, now the D.C. city council - with one of the nation's heaviest per-capita debt burdens - is thinking of pledging $200 million it doesn't have to help build a Major League Baseball stadium. This for a modern-day revival of something along the lines of the wondrous Washington Senators - when baseball has driven itself down to a popular rating about equal to that of synchronized swimming. Former Miss Illinois, now Miss America, Erika Harold, wants to spend her yearlong reign promoting premarital sexual abstinence - and the swells in the Miss America Pageant headshed (BEGIN ITAL) don't . Enough said. The left has lost, in the Supreme Court, a battle to prevent the seating of a conservative black Bush appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Majority Democratic members, led by chairman Mary Frances Berry, had opposed the seating of Peter Kirsanow, a Cleveland lawyer - not because he is an African-American, of course, but because he is a conservative. The Supreme Court has ordered his seating on the commission. Stay tuned for good things from Kirsanow. Other African-Americans are breaking the ideological mold. (1) Robert Woodson, founder of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, has blasted Harry Belafonte for dissing Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice: "We're going to express our outrage that (Belafonte,) this self-appointed king of black America, who is nothing more than a bad calypso singer, feels qualified to sit in judgment of the secretary of state and the national security adviser." (2) An association of African-American cosmetologists, led by James Stern, has ripped Jesse Jackson for blasting Ice Cube for jokes about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King in the hit movie "Barbershop." Bad Vlad Putin, the head of Russia, is incensed about Chechnya and terrorist acts by Chechens, notably the awful incident in the Moscow theater. Putin is telling diplomats and reporters that the breakaway province of Chechnya is run by Islamist terrorists who think all non-Muslims deserve to die. For instance: "They talk about setting up a worldwide Islamist state and the need to kill Americans and their allies. They talk about the need to kill all non-Muslims - or 'crusaders,' as they put it. If you are a Christian, you are in danger." Chechen terrorists may be putting Putin ever more firmly into the American allied camp. Via terror, the Palestinians may be self-inflicting wounds. Palestinian acts such as suicide bombings and an aborted effort last week to fly an El Al jet into a Tel Aviv high-rise have prompted Ariel Sharon to suggest constructing more settlements - or linking existing ones - as defensive responses in the West Bank. And why not? Maybe the Palestinians need to learn that by terrorizing Israel, they stand to lose the one thing they most covet - land.