Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "Untouchable?," April 7, 2001

GRAY'S BLACKOUT: California's energy woes go and on-and columnist Linda Bowles daily tries to figure out if a rolling blackout is tumbling her way. "This is not simply a transitory nuisance," she writes. "When a rolling blackout hits, it's not just a matter of losing the convenience of televisions, radios, and pop-up toasters. It's serious: Traffic lights go off, computers shut down, cash registers in stores will not work, factories grind to a halt, and elevators stop between floors." She remarks that California is expanding rapidly but hasn't built a new power plant in over a decade. For Bowles, layers and layers of pro-environmentalist legislation could bring the Golden State to a halt. In a Washington Times op-ed, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge boasts of his state's successes at deregulation, which he says gives residents below-average power costs. He criticizes his California counterpart, Gray Davis, for interjecting the state government into the crisis. Pressure for more regulation is sure to come as blackouts continue. "The marketplace didn't abandon California," Ridge writes. "California abandoned the marketplace." "PEACEFUL" THUG: Fidel Castro still has friends. A member of Norway's parliament has nominated the Cuban Communist dictator for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. Columnist Don Feder naturally finds this nutty, saying the Cold War dinosaur remains anything but a peacemaker. Cubans today live under brutal rationing and survive with the help of $800 million every year sent in from relatives in the United States. "Castro only sees Cuba's internal opposition when he's watching videos of their torture," Feder writes. THIRD WAY'S NO CHARM: Remember the Million Mom March? In the year since the heavily hyped event, the gun-control movement has been in disarray. A Dallas Morning News article reports that anti-gun activists have split into factions as the election of a new administration has put them on the defensive. Monster.com owner Andrew McKelvey has funded Americans for Gun Safety, which claims to support a "third way" toward firearms that supports regulation while technically supporting the right to keep and bear arms. Many gun-control types call this a sellout, but Americans for Gun Safety president Jonathan Cowan says this is the only path to success. "You're not going to win if you alienate gun owners," he argues. Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America calls the strategy a ruse, saying "it may be different verbiage, but it's still the same content." TURNER STRIKES AGAIN: The "mouth of the South" opened his mouth again and out came another diatribe. This time Ted Turner attacked President Bush, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Dubya "was bought and paid for by the petroleum industry" and "the Republican Party has become the party of polluters." At a speech before his old prep school, he spoke of "reinvesting my wealth in making a better world." Turner's power is apparently reduced at the new AOL Time Warner, which may give him more room for his egalitarian pursuits. Earlier in March, his comments about "Jesus freaks" at CNN partially led to the departure of Moneyline co-anchor Stuart Varney. BIASED BARRISTERS: The Bush administration doesn't plan to let the American Bar Association vet its judicial nominees-and it's a good thing too, says columnist Paul Greenberg. He says the ABA poses as an impartial review board while it regularly displays its ideological prejudices that are "largely indistinguishable from that of the Democratic National Committee." Notoriously, it helped turned Robert Bork's last name into a verb with its less-than-positive appraisal, and it honored Bill Clinton during his scandals. "Having failed to stay above politics," Greenberg writes, "it now has been tossed out of it by a new administration."

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