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January 6, 2003

Miscellany: That 9/11 commission, the one no longer being headed up by Henry Kissinger, just keeps on giving. In the latest news, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, filling the final Republican slot on the board, has chosen Reagan Administration Navy Secretary John Lehman, a man who’s presided over more government cover-ups than Richard Nixon. You probably remember Tailhook, but do you remember the 1982 Naval child-abuse scandal? Thought not. There’s more. Atrios is all over this story. Follow his links.

New blogger John Duffy, of The Better Rhetor, is mad as hell about the naked cynicism of pushing Trent Lott out as Majority Leader while leaving the equally-shameful John Ashcroft in office, and he’s organizing—wait for it—a letter-writing campaign. It’s easy to dismiss this sort of effort as small potatoes, but imagine if enough people actually did it. I’ve heard worse ideas.

Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit seem to agree: MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is an increasingly questionable organization. Says Reynolds:

MADD has morphed from an anti-drunk-driving organization to an anti-alcohol organization. The pitch has gradually shifted from “don’t drive drunk” (utterly correct and reasonable), to “don’t drink and drive” (not really the same as “don’t drive drunk,” but perhaps within the zone of reason) to, essentially, “don’t drink”—which is fluorescent idiocy.
Merritt quotes an email from NACDL media director Dan Dodson, who has his own view of the real reason for the constant pressure to keep lowering allowable blood-alcohol counts:
The insurance industry likes the high-risk premiums that result—usually about four times regular rates. And no one can afford more than the minimum liability limits, so the victims of DUI convicts’ later mistakes, DUI-related or not, have a minimal pool of insurance money for compensation.
It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that a significant number of America’s worst social problems would be alleviated by summoning the insurance industry’s top managers to an economic summit, and then setting packs of wild dogs on them. [03:50 PM]
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Comments on Miscellany::

Jon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2003, 03:55 PM:

Yo, the link to The Better Rhetor is a bit...off.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2003, 04:00 PM:

Aargh. Fixed, thanks.

Helen Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2003, 04:05 PM:

I'm mulling over a post about the malpractice insurance fiasco that's currently driving doctors out of PA by the dozen, and had come to nearly that same conclusion about America's worst social problems.

Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2003, 04:06 PM:

The problem with the hidden temperance movement is that it causes far more problems than it solves, even if you believe temperance solves problems on more than an individual level.

Case in point: my freshman year in college, the drinking age in Texas was 19. Alcohol was served openly, and peer pressure limited some of the worst drinking, even at a school where "work hard, party hard" was a motto. Sure, some people got falling-down drunk, but we laughed at them and they tried not to do it again.

The next year, the drinking age went up to 21, due to MADD-supported legislation. Alcohol was still available on campus, just not as openly. And there was no peer pressure to keep you from taking those extra drinks, because they were happening at room parties, where there was no adult supervision or even much likelihood of non-drinking students. I saw far more alcohol-induced misbehavior my sophomore year than my freshman year.

I've heard from a victim what it's like to be in a serious accident caused by a drunk driver (my husband was in a car struck by an uninsured illegal alien driving a stolen car--honest--when he was in college). I've also had to take away the keys from a friend and drive him home. I fully support the goal of minimizing the number of drunks behind the wheel.

MADD, however, has been barking up the wrong tree for a long time.

Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2003, 07:53 PM:

This is interesting. From the MADD site:

Personal Alcohol Tests

MADD does not support the use of personal alcohol tests to assist a driver in making decisions about his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages.

Not sure what to make of this.

Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2003, 04:21 AM:

Life imitating Art again?

"You know they've reintroduced the death penalty for insurance company directors?"
"Really?" said Arthur. "No I didn't. For what offence?"
Trillian frowned.
"What do you mean, offence?"

DOugals Adams, Mostly Harmless, 1992