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Jewish World Review Sept. 19, 2003 / 22 Elul, 5763

James Lileks

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Consumer Reports

All Hail the Ninth Circuit Court of Surreal | . East Coast residents grew increasingly unnerved as Isabel thrashed its way toward land. This was no small storm; this had the potential to knock out power, wash away homes, disrupt life for months to come. And there was nothing they could do about it. Or could they?

That's when the East Coast made a last-minute appeal to the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to issue an indefinite stay against the hurricane. There were questions of jurisdiction, of course, but the Interstate Commerce Clause was invoked -- in 2.3 seconds, a new record -- and the judges got down to the business of deciding Humanity v. Isabel. The court found for Humanity, since the storm would violate the equal protection clause by soaking people who were caught outside while leaving those inside mostly dry; they also found that it violated the civil rights of minorities on the coast, who would suffer disproportionately compared with largely white Iowa.

The ruling was cheered by scientists, who now expect that any killer asteroid can be deflected by a court ruling. All hail the Ninth Circuit! Now let's have them rule on this whole mortality thing, and find the Divine liable for making a defective product.

If the Ninth Circuit panel's decision on the California recall does delay it until March, several things will happen.

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1. Gray Davis will sign every ludicrous bill slapped on his desk if he thinks it'll buy some votes. It's hard to imagine what could be more preposterous than the job-killing health care bill or driver's licenses for illegal non-citizens. But you ain't seen nothin' yet. Expect him to approve the following laws:

-- Citizenship extended to the entire Mexican subcontinent on a first-come, first-served basis. "If you can make it over the border by Feb. 28, you're a citizen! Fun for all! Bring the kids!"

-- Emission control devices for companion animals -- either some sort of pet diaper, or a rear-mounted catalytic converter that reduces harmful vapors. Mandatory on all dogs over 10 years or 70 pounds.

-- Good news: legal gay marriage. Bad news: $150,000 filing fee

-- Full Employment Energy Independence Act. The unemployed will be hired to walk around carrying solar reflector panels, or to blow on the propellers at wind farms during calm days. Total cost: $1.9 billion. Total energy generated: Does it matter, as long as we don't drill in Alaska?

What, you WANT caribou to die?

2. Arnold will have to make clear his positions on everything. No more insisting that he has to study the issue, or that his team of ninja accountants will rappel from the ceiling, kill the Keepers of the Budget with poisoned throwing stars, audit the books with lightning speed and carve out $193 billion in hidden spending -- and show you the money before you hit the floor dead! He'll have time to do some free-lance auditing between now and then. He'll have to be specific.

3. Tom McClintock will continue to surge in the polls. By the end of the year, more than 84 percent of Republicans will say they'll never forgive him for hoovering up Arnold votes for his doomed crusade, and handing the election to Bustamante.

4. Gollivornia, as Arnold calls it, will continue to drag down the national economy -- and worse yet, the national news cycle. Originally the recall was an amusing, if regrettable, interval of political theater. But now it's something else. It's a symbol of bitter gridlocked politics, hideous judicial overreach and our curious sense of perspective. Which do you think would get more coverage tomorrow: Arnold does Dr. Phil? Or full pumping capacity is restored at a key Iraqi oil facility?

Nevertheless, this mess is a fine example for the people of Iraq. They're attempting to set up the rule of law, not the rule of whim and creed. Take heart, Iraq! If you work hard, in 200 years you too can have institutions strong enough to withstand this foolishness.

If you're lucky.

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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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08/08/03: No wonder Howard ‘Two Covers’ Dean gets all the buzz
08/04/03: Expect bad news for the foreseeable future
07/28/03: Despot's Deserts
07/21/03: No winners in this game of gotcha
07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks