The Magazine

John Edwards, Egypt, Germany, and more.

Feb 25, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 23
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THE BORKING OF PICKERING (cont.)

As reported in these pages last week, Judiciary Committee Democrats are going hard and heavy after U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering, selected by President Bush for the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. We've seen the law firm of Biden, Kennedy, and Leahy engaged before in various forms of borking. But the Pickering hearings have introduced the nation to a new borker: John Edwards of North Carolina.

It fell--or perhaps it was assigned--to Edwards, who made millions as a plaintiff's lawyer, to cross-examine Judge Pickering about his handling of a case from 1994. Working from Clinton-era Justice Department documents he had in his possession but which Pickering had not seen (how about that for due process, Your Honor?), Edwards accused Pickering of conduct violating the Code of Judicial Ethics.

Now that the documents have been made available to everyone, including the judge, it appears at the least that there is another side to the story. Reviewing the issues at the request of Senate Republicans, Michael Krauss, professor of legal ethics at George Mason School of Law, writes, "One is hard pressed to see any violation of Judge Pickering's ethical duties here." And: "[The] documents reveal nothing more than a determined effort by Judge Pickering to discharge, faithfully and competently, his judicial duties under the Constitution."

Drawing on the same documents, Edwards also said Pickering had told "the government lawyers [in the case] that you would on your own motion order a new trial." Pickering denied saying that. And the documents back him up. The pertinent one--a Nov. 29, 1994, memo by prosecutor Brad Berry--said that Pickering had asked whether the Justice Department would agree not to oppose a motion for a new trial on a certain charge. But Berry's memo doesn't say that Pickering said he would call for this trial "on your own motion."

Edwards, who has presidential aspirations, may not have established himself as the equal of the established borkers in his party, but he shows promise. And he certainly has the character. We still remember those ads when he ran for the Senate in 1998, which suggested he was born in North Carolina though in fact he came into the world in Seneca, South Carolina. In case you wonder, there's documentation for that.

ANNALS OF P.R. INEPTITUDE

The airlines may no longer be able to treat their upscale passengers to real silverware, but that doesn't mean they don't still try to pamper their best customers.

For instance, a frequent-flying friend of The Scrapbook's recently received some complimentary personal care products for flying business class on U.S. Airways. One item in particular stood out--a stick of lip balm whose label we have reproduced here.

We're guessing (hoping?) it was produced before Sept. 11. In any event, they'll probably want to consider a quick redesign.

NEW FRONTIERSIN FEMINISM

Courtesy of the translations done by the Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.org), we can report that the government-controlled papers in Egypt (as elsewhere in the Arab world) are having second thoughts about feminism. Why? Delight in the January 27 suicide bombing in Jerusalem by a Palestinian woman, Wafa Idris.

Here's columnist Samiya Sa'ad Al-Din in the government daily Al-Akhbar: "Palestinian women have torn the gender classification out of their birth certificates, declaring that sacrifice for the Palestinian homeland would not be for men alone; on the contrary, all Palestinian women will write the history of the liberation with their blood, and will become time bombs in the face of the Israeli enemy."

And here's Adel Sadeq, the head of the psychiatry department at Ein Shams University in Cairo: "If it was the Holy Spirit that placed a child in Mary's womb, perhaps that same holy spirit placed the bomb in the heart of Wafa, and enveloped her pure body with dynamite."

So much for the idea that jihad is a man's task. Killing Israelis is just too important to be left to men only.

VICTIMS UBER ALLES

The Germans are known for good sausages, dangerous philosophy, goofy hiking outfits, and a few other things besides, but not, last time we checked, for the comedic gift. Were it not for this fact, one could be excused for thinking that the momentous mating of the German left and right this past week was a parody of the cult of victimization.