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The Notebook: 'Garbage in, garbage out'

TIME magazine March 23, 1998

"Indeed, often I and my colleagues do not like...the results that we produce...The system is really garbage in, garbage out."
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, commenting on those who criticize court decisions without fully understanding issues or statutes

The Far-from-Merry Widow

(TIME, March 23) -- These days it's hard to imagine how anyone could cross the line about anything having to do with Bill Clinton's sex life. But right-wing pundit ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, ever the trailblazer, may have. In a January column, she reports allegations that Shelia Lawrence, best known as the widow of the ambassador ignominiously disinterred from Arlington National Cemetery, took advantage of Clinton's now infamous libido. Huffington quotes a source saying "[M. Larry Lawrence's] greatest leverage was having turned a blind eye toward Clinton's affair with his own wife." Lawrence responded by slapping her and Creators Syndicate with a $25 million libel suit. Huffington won't go down easily, telling TIME, "I stand by my column. We're going to file a suit to dismiss her lawsuit."
By Nadya Labi

Bible Studies: Can Falwell Pass His Own Leadership Test?

Last week the Rev. JERRY FALWELL, writing in USA Today, counseled Bill Clinton to resign or ask public forgiveness. His grounds: Scripture bids the leader, "Flee from all appearances of evil," and standards are "immensely higher for those who invoke the name of Christ, as Bill Clinton does." Falwell, however, may have a first-stone problem. In the Web magazine Salon, reporter MURRAY WAAS writes that a group called Citizens for Honest Government paid more than $200,000 to people who accused Clinton of such crimes as aiding an Arkansas cocaine ring. CHG folded those allegations, and worse, into its 1994 Clinton-hater tape The Clinton Chronicles. Falwell sold 60,000 of those tapes on television. CHG head PATRICK MATRISCIANA backs Falwell's claim that he didn't know of the payments, which Matrisciana says totaled closer to $100,000 and were made mostly to "researchers" or Clinton denouncers who have fallen on hard times. But while Matrisciana stands by many of the tape's allegations, Falwell is more equivocal. In 1994, says a spokesman, he thought, "Even if most of this is untrue, it deserves a second look." Does he now believe anything on it was true? "I'm not sure he could say." Rumormongering is a step away from the biblically prohibited bearing of false witness, but, as Falwell argues, standards for leaders who invoke Christ's name are higher.

--By David Van Biema/New York

United Nations: Oil for Food--and for Guns and for Leverage

Who stands to profit most from the expansion of the Oil for Food program the U.N. put into place just before KOFI ANNAN went to Baghdad? The new plan will allow Iraq to increase its sales to roughly half the amount of oil it was pumping before the Gulf War. As it turns out, France and Russia pushed the program much harder than Iraq, which initially feared this option would reduce pressure to get sanctions lifted. But SADDAM HUSSEIN realized that the more cash he could earn to buy food to keep Iraqis from starving, the more hard currency reserves, into which he had been dipping, could be used for the Republican Guards. French and Russian companies are betting that pumping oil now will give them a permanent foothold in Iraq's rich oil fields when sanctions are finally lifted. France is still smarting at being shut out of the Saudi and Kuwaiti markets after the Gulf War, and both France and Russia would like nothing better than to keep the U.S. out of Iraq's oil fields for good.

--By William Dowell/New York

The Marine Corps: The Crew Obeyed the Rules, Until It Didn't

Last week's terse, 70-page report of the Marine inquiry into the Feb. 3 Italian ski-lift tragedy blamed the jet fighter's crew for the deaths of 20 people. But a closer read yields an interesting discrepancy. On the one hand, the flight of the EA-6B PROWLER was described as a hair-raising ride, in which the plane flew too low and too fast until the collision. On the other was the description of crew members, whom colleagues and commanders praised for their flying skills and professionalism. And all the 35 EA-6B flyers interviewed said they had never heard of anyone flying too low, too fast or doing improper stunts--what Marine pilots call "flat hatting." It did strike some Pentagon officials as peculiar that there is a nickname for something the pilots say they never do and never heard of others doing. Officials also point out that another EA-6B squadron in Italy last year apparently videotaped some of its own flat hatting. A Marine commander who in the wake of the tragedy told his men to "disappear'' any such tapes was relieved of duty. Although there was a camcorder found in the cockpit of the plane that clipped the cables, the report says the tape was blank, at least by the time the plane landed.

--By Mark Thompson/Washington

Eulogy: Jim McDougal

I deeply regret that the country never got to see the JIM MCDOUGAL whom I fell in love with 20 years ago--the Jim McDougal whose intellect and dry wit led to his friendships with Bill Clinton and Senator William Fulbright; who would rant against social and racial inequality; whose greatest heroes were F.D.R. and Churchill. He taught me everything about how to be giving because he was one of the most generous men I have ever met.

I was still in college when Jim asked me to marry him. It was on a snowy night in Washington. When I accepted, he immediately called Fulbright, who insisted on holding a party for us. I didn't know anyone, but I eventually realized they were all movers and shakers. Jim was quite romantic and quoted Edward VIII's abdication speech. He said that he, too, would give it all up for me.

It is truly sad that Jim's last image is that of a man destroyed by manic depression and bitter resentment. His last years were not happy because he battled an illness and a betrayal of his own conscience. I pray that he has now found peace. As Jim would always say, "No sad songs for me."

--By Susan McDougal, former wife of Jim McDougal, from the Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles
In TIME This Week

Cover Date: March 23, 1998

Are Bigger Banks Badder?
Kiss But Don't Tell
Two Women, Two Stories And A Presidential Denial
Touched By A President?
The Ubiquitous Mr. Fix-It
The Expanding Cast
A Call for Lustiness
Sex And The Law
No Go: Why the Army Lost A High-Profile Sex Case
Is Slate Worth Paying For?
When Wall Street Runs Welfare
Calvin Trillin: Titanic (Glub), Lewinsky (Blab)
The Notebook: 'Garbage In, Garbage Out'

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