Bill of Wrongs

The terrors of counterterrorism.

As for the not-infrequent capital cases when individuals are able to produce new evidence pointing to their innocence, the Supreme Court recently established a benchmark: The evidence had to make the defendant appear "more likely than not" to be innocent. H.R. 2703 substitutes the much higher standard of "clear and convincing" evidence of one's innocence. It's a burn-'em-all bill.

DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE: In October the Center for the American Experiment--a local think tank, loosely speaking--brought a speaker named William Galston to town. Galston's spiel revolved around the reform of American divorce law in the interest of families;
by way of example he extolled waiting periods of up to a year before divorces could be obtained, and suggested an end to no-fault divorce standards in favor of older ones such as demonstrable abuse or outright desertion. So far as unhappy wives are concerned, in other words, the rule should be that unless the husband is abusing his property, he ought to face a diminished threat of dispossession. Unhappy husbands would appear to have even less recourse, unless they could get their womenfolk to cuff them around a bit. These themes have played on the Christian right for some time, but Galston isn't of that crowd. He's a former Clinton Administration adviser; his original essay on the subject appeared in Rights and Responsibilities, the journal of the communitarian movement so fulsomely praised by Clinton around the time of his inaugural.

THE DEMS' BEST FRIEND: There's little question that Newt Gingrich's ethical, uh, lapses are of a magnitude sufficient to get people kicked out in the past. It wasn't so long ago that Gingrich helped show Jim Wright the door for the sort of chicanery--specifically, bulk book sales as cover for political fundraising--that he now stands accused of himself. So why did the Democrats on the House Ethics Committee agree to give such a limited mandate to its special investigator in the matter? To draw things out, perhaps. As Pat Schroeder pointed out on This Week With David Brinkley, it's entirely possible that the investigator will come back looking for more authority to probe Gingrich's ties with GOPAC, and the House Republicans will look dicey if they try to block it. If that happens, it will happen as campaign season draws closer; even if it doesn't, a wounded Gingrich is worth more to the Democrats at present than a deposed Gingrich. Until he became speaker, it was their standard-bearer who owned the mantle of most hated man in town.

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