By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Footnote: Coehlo was closely connected to policies that led to the Democratic Party's collapse in the late '80s, from subsidies for agribusiness moguls to all-out defense of entitlements. Together, Gore and Coehlo helped lead the Dukakis-Bentsen campaign down the tubes against Bush-Quayle in 1988.
Natural Born Gunslinger
Clinton Shindigs Hollywood
Surrounded by Hollywood pals (David Geffen, Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn, etc.), President Clinton welcomed gun manufacturers into their cozy little "family" over the weekend. Contrasting the outcasts of the NRA with do-gooder gun makers, the president said he was "very proud" of the weapons merchants who had showed "the kind of civic responsibility that we need more from every American."
Clinton's flirtation with gun dealers is not new. It dates back to the fall of 1997, when the president stood in the Rose Garden and announced that his administration had reached a "voluntary agreement" with several firearms manufacturers to install child safety devices on new guns, a deal he celebrated as a "breakthrough in our efforts to protect children from gun violence." He then praised the gun manufacturers: "Today, because of the voluntary action of the firearms industry, millions of our citizens will receive this protection. I'm pleased to announce that eight of the largest handgun manufacturers will now provide child safety devices with every new handgun they sell. This will affect eight of 10 handguns made in America, and it will save many young lives."
Richard Feldman, executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, which brokered the deal with top White House staff, declared, "Within the coming year, most major handgun manufacturers will institute company policies providing safety devices with all handguns shipped in the United States."
The voluntary deal took the steam out of reform efforts in Congress to legislate safety devices, which was acknowledged by White House spokesman Mike McCurry when he described the agreement. "When industries step forward and voluntarily do these things, the ease of implementation is greater, the likelihood of litigation over rule-making or regulation is less, and you get the job done," McCurry said.
Unfortunately, the whole deal was phony. When the Violence Policy Center, the group that pushes for stiffer gun regulations, conducted a survey one year later, it discovered that 16 of 20 handgun manufacturers that had promised to include safety devices with their guns had not done so. Of the other four companies, three were supplying safety devices before the White House deal was brokered, and even among these companies compliance was spotty, and some of the safety devices were of such low quality they were not considered adequate.
Remember Indochina, Summers Warns
Harry G. Summers Jr., a retired army colonel and fellow at the Army War College, has a reminder for anyone who thinks the trouble-ridden force of 22 surviving Apache choppers can save the day for refugees pouring out of Kosovo. In Indochina, where Communist forces were equipped with the rough equivalent of Serb antiaircraft weaponry, the toll on helicopters was deadly. During one month in 1971, Summers reports, the army lost 168 helicopters. In addition, 618 choppers were damaged, 54 crewmen were killed, and 178 were wounded a level of casualties that would send Clinton's poll numbers skidding, and doom Gore.
Underlining the limits of air power, Summers further notes that in Vietnam the Air Force dropped about 6 million tons of bombs almost triple the tonnage dropped in World War II without breaking North Vietnamese resistance. In the Persian Gulf conflict, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney fired General Michael J. Dugan for claiming that the Air Force could win the war on its own.
Army bases around the world are opening their gates to an unexpectedly popular form of religious worship: witchcraft. More than 40 witches and warlocks celebrated the Rite of Spring at Fort Hood, Texas, on March 20: the day of equal daylight and darkness that symbolizes witchcraft's goal of perfect balance. At Fort Hood, where 42,000 soldiers are stationed, the Wiccans Open Circle counts 300 members. They have been warmly received by Army brass, and recruits who are Wiccans eagerly seek to be stationed at Fort Hood. Wiccan congregations will soon open at bases in New York, Florida, North Carolina, and Louisiana.
Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu