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Anchors Aweigh
Shrub's Hot Seat
The Hillary Quiz
Babs Attack
Dumb and Dumber
EPA Follies
Bug Off

Anchors Aweigh
McCain Presses 'Rollback'

The presidential campaign takes a new turn this week as the primaries pause in Michigan before hitting paydirt in New York and California on Super Tuesday. As the sloganeering and mindless mudslinging in the major parties begins to exhaust voters, the independent candidates (Ralph Nader in the Green Party and Pat Buchanan in the Reform Party) are staking out their turf. And, of course, there's Ross Perot waiting in the wings of his splintered group. Democratic and Republican professionals always blow off third parties, but sooner or later they're bound to make a dent.

Foreign policy is starting to look like a serious point of divergence between McCain and Bush, with the ex-POW coming off as a bellicose successor to Reagan's Commie "rollback" policies and Shrub putting forward a more moderate worldview, talking about seeking accommodation with Russia before Vladimir Putin brings about rapprochement with China.

A telling moment came as McCain scrambled for leverage against Bush in South Carolina during a feisty exchange on CNN. "I would also . . . revise our policies concerning these rogue states: Iraq, Libya, North Korea—those countries that continue to try to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them," McCain spat out at ringmaster Larry King.

"I'd institute a policy that I call "rogue state rollback. . . .'I would arm, train, and equip—both from without and from within—forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically elected governments. As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security."

McCain went on to say he wasn't sure he would bother to talk to Putin, whom he described as just another Russkie "apparatchik," while Bush barely seemed able to answer the question. Finally, Dubya feebly declared: "All three of us agree that the president has drug his feet on the development of an antiballistic missile system. All three of us understand, just like I understand, that this nation must not retreat, but can lead the world to peace."

The only other presidential candidate to take McCain's duke-'em-out stance is Al Gore, who told Larry King during Kosovo that he thought the 21st century would be a time when the U.S. would be sorely tested in trying to protect human rights abuses abroad. Probably too early to tell, but Gore, spawned in the hawkish southern Democratic Leadership Council, and McCain, former Navy pilot and Kosovo hawk, could end up trying to outdo each other over whom to knock off first, Saddam or Qaddafi.

Grandma Facing Needle
Shrub's Hot Seat

The only time Shrub Bush doesn't look like a preppie wimp is when he talks about executing people. Then he becomes macho man. Wheeee. With voters in Arizona and Michigan now closely eyeing the race, Shrub will get a chance to show just how tough he can be by offing Betty Beets, 62, who was sentenced to death in 1985 for the murder of her husband, Jimmy Don. She's on the Lone Star State's execution assembly line, and scheduled to get the needle on Thursday, February 24. Jimmy Don disappeared in August 1983, his capsized boat found in a Texas lake, leading to suspicions that he had drowned while fishing. However, two years later his body was discovered buried beneath a wishing well in the yard of the family home. Betty was charged with the murder. And beneath Jimmy Don's body, police also found the remains of a former husband of Betty's, Doyle Barker, who had disappeared in 1981.

During the trial the prosecutor claimed Betty killed Jimmy Don to get his pension and insurance. Beets has claimed that her former attorney never introduced any evidence that might have resulted in a lesser sentence, such as the fact that she had been abused by her parents and other family members. So far these claims have come to naught. Beets alleges that the attorney took her case only after she signed over all media rights.

If Beets is executed, it will be only the second time in 100 years that a woman has gone to the death chamber in Texas. On February 3, 1998, Karla Faye Tucker was executed after Shrub refused to step in amid worldwide protests. Texas has carried out more executions than any other jurisdiction in the Western world.

Getting to Know You
The Hillary Quiz

"Who did Hillary meet as a youth that profoundly influenced her life? Cesar Chavez. Robert F. Kennedy. Rosa Parks. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr."

Thanks to "The Hillary Quiz," put up on the First Lady's campaign Web site, we know the answer: Reverend King.

There are 23 questions in the quiz, all pointing out what a nice person Hillary is. Did you know, for example, that her favorite game is pinochle, and that salsa is her favorite "spicy" food? Kinda neat that a First Lady likes spicy salsa, don't you think?

"What activities did Hillary enjoy as a young adult? Babysitting the children of migrant farmworkers. Playing softball. Serving as senior class vice-president. All of the Above." The answer, of course, AOTA.

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