But so what?
Hit the pause button. More than 22 million Americans tuned in a network or cable broadcast to view President Clinton's grand jury testimony, but the most immediate poll numbers revealed the tape had little effect on them. The latest USA Today/ CNN/Gallup poll found that although 81 percent of Americans believe the president was lying in his grand jury testimony (which means the televised videotape showed a felony in progress), Mr. Clinton's job approval rating actually rose. Also rising was the number of Americans who think he should not be impeached. Fully two in three Americans feel that way.
A corrupted nation
The Clinton strategy is clear. He seeks to wear us down. The hot rumor now is that a "deal" short of impeachment could be struck, but only if Republicans shirk their constitutional duty to move forward with impeachment. The president's legacy is now set:
He has corrupted the law. What would be perjury for anyone else is not perjury for him. Various investigations may lead to new evidence of illegalities for which Mr. Clinton will offer new obfuscations and excuses. He has corrupted the truth. While swearing to tell the "whole truth," he tells anything but the truth. He blames others for his predicament, while acknowledging "inappropriate" acts that he refuses to detail and, when pressed, claims to have participated in activities that are sex to everyone but him. He has corrupted women. Personally and culturally, women are worse off because of Mr. Clinton. Men who would stray from their wives have a role model for presenting a corrupted father-image before their daughters. He has corrupted the language. Words have meaning unique to Mr. Clinton. He doesn't split hairs. He splits rhetorical atoms. Reading through the transcripts of Mr. Clinton's testimony before a grand jury (or watching the tape) is an exhausting experience. Instead of "letting your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no' be 'no,'" Mr. Clinton takes us on a semantical forced march at the end of which we don't know where we've come from or where we are. All we know is that we can't take much more, and we want to escape while we still have our senses. He has corrupted our highest office. Like despotic armies that pillage those they seek to conquer, Mr. Clinton has gone through the presidency in a manner that should shame civilized people. He has corrupted our politics and his party. Instead of debating issues-the size of government, taxes, and the social agenda-Mr. Clinton has forced us to focus on him. Since he's been in office, his party has lost power and influence at every other level of government. He has corrupted himself. Surrounded by enablers and others who care only about political power and not the higher things-such as honor, integrity, duty, and country-a corrupt Clinton continues his search for "a way out." Mr. Clinton always has people exploring avenues of escape so he can avoid ultimate accountability for his wrong, illegal, and immoral acts. Our politics and our nation need a bath after Bill Clinton.
by Cal Thomas, © 1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate
Nostalgia, reality: Ira Einhorn's strange case
Two decades ago, ex-hippie, anti-war protest leader, and radical environmentalist Ira Einhorn made war, not love. Accused of the murder of his girlfriend, and before prosecutors could bring him to trial, Mr. Einhorn fled the country. After a dozen years of legal wrangling, he was tried in absentia and a jury in 1993 found him guilty. Last week, French authorities arrested Mr. Einhorn and placed him in a prison cell he describes as "homey." Prosecutors in the United States are not offering homey accommodations, but in their extradition battle with the French they are promising a new trial. Police first nabbed Mr. Einhorn in 1979, after they discovered the mummified corpse of ex-girlfriend Holly Maddux in a trunk in his apartment closet. She died, laboratory tests revealed, from blunt, violent, multiple blows to the head. Prior to and shortly after his original arrest, Mr. Einhorn was a respected-if eccentric-intellectual. Known by his body odor, unkempt hair and beard (he evidently considered personal hygiene bourgeois), and disdain for clothing, he was well entrenched in academia, a fellow at the thoroughly mainstream Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Charged with murder, Mr. Einhorn relied on mainstream legal talent, beginning with defense attorney (now Republican U.S. senator) Arlen Specter, who won his release on $40,000 bail. The wealthy ex-wife of a corporate heir then paid up and sprang Mr. Einhorn, who went into hiding in Europe. Nevertheless, Mr. Einhorn argued that he was the victim of a federal, even international, conspiracy by establishment political figures to frame and discredit him. But today his lawyers are using the arcana of international laws to shelter him from justice. He's beaten the extradition rap once already. After French authorities first collared him in June 1997, when he was hiding under a false identity with a new girlfriend, Mr. Einhorn's lawyers argued that, for extradition to proceed, their client must be promised a new trial. At that time, Pennsylvania law contained no such provision. By the end of the year, France officially rejected the extradition. This January, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation that would grant a new trial. Entertaining a new extradition request, the French rearrested him. Now his lawyer says, "The legislature cannot invade the territory of the judiciary." In other words, Mr. Einhorn doesn't want a new trial, after all. Will he finally face legal punishment in the United States? He's already facing the judgment of history. Liberal journalist Steven Levy, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone when he wrote a 1989 book about Mr. Einhorn, said the case raises unsettling questions. In publicizing his book-subtitled Murder in the Age of Aquarius-Mr. Levy told the Boston Globe: "We had a lot of great ideals, but we didn't really hold ourselves to the same standards as we held the world. In retrospect, the case sheds light on aspects of the '60s that some of us forget in our nostalgia for it."
Nation in brief
Help Wanted: Pro-Life Senators
The pro-life cause twice sputtered in the Senate, as a determined minority blocked two of the most popular items on the pro-life legislative agenda. Senators failed for a second time to override President Clinton's veto of a bill to ban partial-birth abortion. Pro-lifers have the needed two-thirds majority in the House but lack just three votes in the Senate. Another measure garnered a simple majority but failed to muster the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. That bill would make it a crime for adults to transport underaged girls across state lines to evade parental-consent statutes. Gay parental rights?
A Missouri woman who divorced her husband after she engaged in several lesbian affairs lost her bid last week to win custody of her 8-, 10-, and 12-year-old children. A ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court sidestepped the issue of whether homosexuality alone was enough to tip the balance in favor of one parent in a custody case. Gay-rights legal activists banking on winning the Missouri case were also disappointed in New Jersey last week. A lesbian who argued she was practically a parent to her ex-partner's 4-year-old twins-conceived through artificial insemination-was denied joint custody and visitation rights to the children. The judge likened the woman's legal status to that of a step-parent. He said New Jersey law does not give third parties an automatic right to visitation or custody of a partner's biological children. The case could have been one of the first in the country to give custodial rights to the former partners of lesbian mothers.
Will the millennium bug throw America into darkness on January 1, 2000? Perhaps not, says a consortium of power companies. The future is brighter than expected, according to a report released by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC). So don't expect widespread power failures. The NERC report emphasized that dealing with system problems is a normal part of the electrical business, since power companies often restore service after tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Also, most kinds of power equipment don't use digital controls. Of those that do, very few manipulate dates in such a way that Year 2000 problems could crop up. Power companies' millennial fears have less to do with typical computer hardware and software than with preprogrammed chips that run industrial equipment. Utilities must inventory the processors and see which ones will have trouble handling dates. The report says that what outages crop up will be minimal, although power companies need to make contingency plans for those instances. In all, the group expects to see power companies spending tens of millions of dollars to fight the bugs. NERC recommended that the government leave power companies' Y2K efforts alone, saying that regulation and red tape "will dilute already strained resources."
A world of indifference?
South African President Nelson Mandela and President Clinton took refuge in ceremony during Mr. Mandela's visit to the United States. The South African leader said he felt like the "heavyweight champion of the world" after Mr. Clinton awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal. Back home, Mr. Mandela was under fire for sending troops to settle violence in Lesotho and for comments the week before his departure that were construed as racist. The 80-year-old Mr. Mandela went out of his way to stand by his embattled American counterpart, who "has my full support in everything that he does.... I will support my friends even if they have been deserted by the entire group." So did other foreign leaders. Mr. Clinton received a standing ovation when he joined the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, just as broadcast of his grand jury testimony was rolling. "It makes me want to throw up," declared German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. While tuning in with unprecedented numbers to watch the taped testimony, most Europeans saved their venom for independent counsel Ken Starr. The Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad compared the independent counsel to the Stasi, East Germany's equivalent to the Gestapo. The German newspaper Berliner Zeitung blared: "Starr more successful than Stalin." Those publishing dissenting views are noteworthy: The Ottawa Citizen carried a lengthy political analysis comparing Mr. Clinton to Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie, "his soul mates in permanent adolescence." Iran News, the Tehran daily, described the latest Clinton scandal news as "the outcome of too much prosperity." It noted that Americans' twin obsessions, sex and money, revealed themselves on the CNN screen, with stock averages ticking below the broadcast of Mr. Clinton's testimony. The paper said Mr. Clinton should resign. In Argentina, a columnist for El Cronista said, "The Clinton investigation shows a framework of institutional strength [in the United States] in which men and especially the president have less importance than the constitutional laws and procedures around them.... This strengthens, not weakens, a nation ... [especially when] viewed from Argentina, where there are still leaders convinced that they are irreplaceable and who feel they are above the law."
Nicole Johnson had just been named Miss America. She looked heavenward and appeared to mouth the words, "Thank you, Jesus." Miss Johnson, a recent graduate of Regent University with a master's degree in journalism, is a former writer and producer for Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 19, she will emphasize diabetes awareness: "God has a special plan for anybody, no matter what their physical [challenge]." Miss Johnson succeeds Miss America 1998, Kate Shindle, who used her reign to promote taxpayer-funded needle-exchange programs and AIDS awareness. Speaking to some high-school groups, Miss Shindle made news by urging condom use for sexually active teens. Miss Johnson, however, made news by criticizing the sexually active president of the United States ("it would be better for him to resign"). Appearing on ABC's Good Morning America, Miss Johnson passed up the opportunity to criticize the outgoing beauty queen's sexual-revolution emphasis: "There are many different avenues you can take, if you are practicing with contraceptive devices or if you choose to practice abstinence."
A leading member of the de facto ethnic Albanian government in Kosovo was killed in Albania Sept. 22, the second murder of a senior Albanian politician in 10 days. Ahmet Krasniqi, 50, was shot dead by unknown gunmen who entered his home. Democratic Party politician Azem Hajdari and his bodyguard were murdered on Sept. 12. Political assassinations have been virtually unknown in Albania, and opposition leaders have blamed the governments of Albania and the Serbian government in Belgrade for the killings. Opposition parties favor independence for Kosovo. Christian missionaries are not cloistered from the chaos. Doug Mann, an administrator with a Christian agency in Tirana, was holed up with fellow parishioners following Sunday worship at his downtown church in order to escape gunfire and sporadic fighting between police and rioters. The following day, two trucks of Marines attached to the U.S. embassy were needed to rescue Americans at the airport after bandits closed the road into Tirana. Mr. Mann, who went to the airport to meet his visiting mother, was among those rescued. "All of us here in Tirana felt like there was no government at all to protect the people," he said. "Shops were looted, people were running the streets with guns, bandits were all over the roads-it was simply unbelievable."
Upon the just and unjust
According to humanitarian workers just returned from North Korea, a two-day deluge in late August took another swipe at international efforts to combat malnutrition in that communist nation. The storm destroyed 400,000 acres of crops. It also sidelined one regional railway system. The same storm had a human toll as well: 50 people died, 40 remain missing, and 2,300 homes were destroyed. The storm marred what Church World Service said has been an otherwise hospitable growing season, and forced farmers to harvest waterlogged, immature wheat. By the time Hurricane Georges headed for the Florida Keys, it left more than 100 dead in the Caribbean. Hardest hit was the Dominican Republic. Other casualties were reported in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and St. Kitts. The U.S. Virgin Islands experienced widespread property damage.
Statistic of the week
Baltimore Sun sportswriter Joe Strauss invoked Ecclesiastes to wrap up a Saturday column speculating that The Streak, baseball Iron Man Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive-games streak, might end. "[T]o every thing there is a season, a time, and a purpose. For perhaps the first time since the magic of September 1995, all three conditions exist for an event of such biblical proportions." The next day, Sunday, Sept. 20, the Orioles star third-baseman benched himself. The numbers tell an amazing story. In 16 seasons, under seven different managers, over 8,243 innings, and winning 1,334 times, Mr. Ripken never missed a game. Not one.
How amazing a feat is that? As the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home-run chase went to the wire in the final week, it was worth considering that Mr. Ripken's nearest challenger is 15 years behind. On the night of Mr. Ripken's 2,632nd consecutive game, Albert Belle of the Chicago White Sox played his 327th straight. Mr. Belle said, "That's one streak I don't think he has to worry about anybody breaking."
Raising the speed limit
A bit of bureaucracy is being peeled away from cyberspace that may make the Net move faster. Internet users with 56K modems may soon be able to connect at 56K without breaking the law. The FCC currently limits consumer modems to 53K. This regulation took effect back in 1978, when the Internet was still a big science experiment. Now the FCC admits high-speed modem connections don't damage telephone networks. While the speed of home modems is still affected by many factors, at least the 56K connection will be more than just wishful thinking.