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Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2002 / 13 Adar, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings -- If there's a duller or more dishonest political issue than campaign finance reform, I don't know what it is.

Congress is busy debating a set of bills that the majority of politicians despise, and that contain the seeds of future corruption. Although the measures claim to restrain a mysteriously named beast called soft money, they don't. They just hide it more artfully than before.

The reform would increase the flow of money into politics but conceal the cash by directing it to party organizations in 50 state capitols rather than party headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Ironically, most politicians are ignoring the best way to get money out of politics: Cut taxes, shut down programs and spend less. After all, most political contributions are designed to help contributors gain access to the federal cookie jar or keep the taxman away from their money. If you want less corruption in politics -- then let us keep the money.

You know what? Poverty will keep the politicians honest.

Some people are describing the grisly murder of Wall Street Journal Reporter Daniel Pearl as a "tragedy." But that's the wrong word.

Pearl's murder was an outrage. Sure, journalists risk their lives when they move into theaters of war, and Pearl was the fearless sort who, driven by curiosity and a desire to get things right, didn't hesitate to consort with bad company. His professionalism and zeal cost him his life. Now, our government needs to avenge the slaughter without reservation or hesitation -- not because Daniel Pearl was a journalist, but because he was an American.

Pearl's captors and killers couldn't decide on a consistent set of demands. They couldn't speak with a clear voice. It appears they were settled on just one thing: They wanted American blood. So they deliberately executed a man with a long record of trying to span cultural chasms and promoting peace -- and now whose unborn child will never feel his father's touch.

That, again, is not a tragedy. It's an outrage.

Today, I want to praise my grandmother, Lorean Snow. She was born on the Fourth of July 1910 in the tiny town of Piner, Kentucky in an era of horse-drawn wagons and outdoor privvies. She helped my great-grandfather run a farm and do odd jobs, and in time, she married.

She and my grandpa set up housekeeping in a place called Sherman, which is literally tucked in the bend of a road and the two made ends meet by running a small garage. Sometimes, grandpa ran off with a bottle and the family savings, but she bore hardships without complaint -- and eventually led her husband back to the straight and narrow while raising two sons. Grandma had the rare gift of finding humor and joy in everything.

I always found it fitting that she was born on Independence Day --- she was so classically American. But she died, also fittingly, on Abe Lincoln's birthday. She lived long, lived well, and loved without restraint. What better legacy can anyone have?

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