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Lose a Lot and Win a Few

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Conservatives and liberals never tire of keeping a scorecard on the important issues. Conservatives, for example, point out that our nation’s gargantuan debt cannot be blamed on so many concurrent Republican administrations because a Democratically controlled Congress held the wallet. Whatever. When the budget deficits of W. Bush sear their way into our national balance sheet, Republicans no doubt will blame Capitol Hill’s Democratic janitorial staff. But keep score, we shall:

& ull; Praying for PMS. President Bush wants to appoint Dr. W. David Hager as head of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Reproductive Health Advisory Committee. As anyone might have guessed, Dr. Hager, an ob-gyn, is on the warpath against mifepristone (also known as RU-486). That’s not the half of it. In private practice, the doctor allegedly refuses to prescribe birth control to unmarried women. He also co-authored a book with his wife, Linda, titled Stress and the Woman’s Body, which recommends that women pray and read Scripture during certain times of their monthly cycle. Bush doesn’t need congressional approval to appoint Hager. Chalk one up for the Republicans.

& ull; There go Dinky’s grand plans. Just when Tribune Publisher Dean Singleton thought he had his plans for media domination all figured out, the Senate had to blow a gasket. Voting 55-40, the Senate effectively rolled back ominous new Federal Communications Commission rules that would have let media networks snap up more local stations and corporations to bundle ownership of radio and television stations, plus newspapers, all in one metropolitan market. Score one for any media consumer who cares about getting more than one story.

& ull; What, me worry? Just in case you thought Patriot Act alarmists were full of hot air, keep an ear and eye out for the American Civil Liberties Union’s new ad warning of the Act’s Section 213, which lets law enforcement search your property and premises and then tell you later. (If at all, apparently.) And don’t think U.S. corporations might not find themselves unwitting victims in all this silliness. JetBlue Airways customers got a rude awakening last week upon learning that the airline company, headed by Utah man David Neeleman, revealed it made a big mistake by sharing up to 5 million of its passenger itineraries with a U.S. Department of Defense contractor after “an exceptional request” to help research a military base security project. Actually, it looks as if the Alabama company contracted by the department used that mass personal information to help develop a prototype of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System which Congress hopes will identify nasty terrorists before they get on the plane. Then again, given the level of competency our government usually displays, what could that information be used for instead? Neeleman has apologized to JetBlue customers. There have been assurances that all itineraries have since been destroyed. Still, you might want to check your credit report.

& ull; Hate Mel. Gibson, that is. The Aussie arrogant enough to think he has something new to tell the world about Jesus via his film The Passion has got himself into a tar baby. No news there. But his dad, Hutton Gibson, landed Mel’s mug in the latest issue of The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, which monitors activities of U.S. racist groups. Hutton Gibson, a traditional Roman Catholic, has gone on record denying that the Holocaust ever occurred.

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