On the Saudis, the courts, the UN, Wall Street, etc.

Posted: May 08, 2003 12:00 AM

President Bush has declared major combat over in Iraq, as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has declared it over in Afghanistan. But elsewhere, big things are happening....

The Saudis - those ever-constant, ever-smiling friends of the West - are sending American forces packing, except a few who will train Saudi troops. The Saudis who run the place play double games. They help us, but at arm's length. They sell us oil, but manipulate the price. They claim friendship with the United States while their citizens fly planes into our buildings; more broadly, they finance our terror enemies. They allow us to use their Prince Sultan Air Base (etc.), but then draw a veil to hide American forces from Saudi eyes. For half a century, Saudi royals have looked to Washington for protection - accepting our weapons and our might, then telling us to leave.

Here at home, the unconscionable Democrats, primarily those who opposed the president in going after Saddam, persist in opposing his nominees to the federal courts. The Republicans were not blameless on court nominees by President Clinton, but these days the Democrats make the Republicans of the Clinton years look like Little Leaguers. Given the close partisan split in the Senate, leftie Dems are redefining the math to require 60 votes on key nominees. The Republicans should redraw the rules to require only 51 votes to break a filibuster.

In California, Gov. Gray Davis dreamed of a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Then came the power crisis - and brownouts, and Enron, and soaring costs to consumers. Comes now the $35-billion state budget deficit, increasing by $21 million per day - with state spending having grown at twice the rate of state tax revenues during the past four years. With an economy bigger than that of all but a few countries, California's government is behaving like a banana republic regime. Governor Davis' approval ratings have slumped to just 24 percent, and there's a serious voter effort to have him recalled.

Nine of Wall Street's biggest investment houses have paid $1.4 billion in fines for unbecoming (even criminal) behavior. Essentially, the houses were on the take to companies whose stock they recommended buying. Investment advice is only as good as the integrity of the house that provides it. Tainted and biased research and recommendations can cost investors dearly. If litigation ensues, as it likely will, $1.4 billion in fines may mount to many billions in criminal fees - with some of the guilty paying with years of their lives.

Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum raised a ruckus when he said that if the Supreme Court sanctions consensual sodomy at home, it will be hard-pressed not to sanction private consensual acts of bigamy, polygamy, adultery, and incest. His comment goes to the question of the deviancy of homosexual acts. The chairman of Georgetown's Department of Theology says the Catholic Santorum's comment clearly reflects Catholic theology: "Catholic theology does not condone homosexual activity. However, it does not condemn homosexual persons."

With its agreement to set up a $2.7-billion fund to compensate the families of the 270 victims ($10 million per family) of the bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Libya implicitly has acknowledged responsibility for the bombing. Yet Libya still has not acknowledged a governmental role in the attack. Isn't it about time? The bombing occurred 15 years ago - in 1988.

Oh, and what wonderful news from the UN. Here Comrade Fidel, "commandante" of the vast concentration camp called Cuba, rounds up 75 dissidents and sentences them to terms in his gulag of up to 28 years - and the good people at the UN re-elect Cuba to another three-year term on the UN Commission on Human Rights. The UN is a shaggy-dog sick joke.

Speaking of Communist regimes, China's conceivably could be brought down by SARS. The regime, run by the Communist Party, covered up SARS for months. Now the disease is ravaging the country, the economy, and daily life - and the citizenry is broadly angry. The regime's handling of the SARS epidemic poses the greatest threat to Communist suzerainty in China since Tiananmen Square, though where Tiananmen failed SARS ultimately might succeed.

And consider this: If SARS (and AIDS) developed naturally, imagine the devastation that could be caused by bioterrorists seeking to afflict the world with anything from smallpox to an exotic flu.