Tom Lowenstein

Recent Articles

121 Days Old

If you'd asked Nick Yarris how old he was, on May 17, 2004 -- his 43rd birthday -- he'd have told you, "121 days." For the rest of his life, Yarris will have his regular birthday and the day he was born again: January 16, 2004, the day he walked out of the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Greene a free man after 22 years on death row. That birth had a long labor of its own, starting probably at age 7, when Yarris was sexually assaulted by a neighborhood predator. By 18 he was a tough high-school dropout, using drugs to protect himself from, as he puts it, his core having been stripped away from him. He dealt drugs, robbed people. In 1981, at age 20, Yarris got busted in a stolen car, wrestled with the officer who tried to arrest him, and ended up in jail, where, desperate to get out from under the charges and going through cold-turkey withdrawal from methamphetamine addiction, he told police that he knew who had killed Linda Mae Craig, a Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, woman who...

Collateral Damage

Carlos Kelly was six years old when, in December of 1991, his mother, Caridad, was arrested by federal agents in Florida for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. "I remember it was, like, me and my stepbrothers and sisters, we was all gathered in the playroom," says Carlos, now 16. "I told my mom that the Nintendo was broke--this is what I remember the most--I asked my mom if she could get us a new one. She went out to get the new Nintendo, and she never came back." Caridad and her husband ran a small travel agency and money wiring business in Tampa not far from their home. She stopped by the office on her way to the store. "I was at work," she recalls. "It was right before, the week before Christmas. I wanted to go to Toys R Us, I remember; I wanted to get Carlos a Nintendo. I wanted to close up my business. My accountant and my husband were sitting there getting the daily deposit ready. I saw all these people coming in from every door--all these...

Why Did He Do It?

After years of following the Republican Party as it side-stepped rightward like a drunk at a Bob Barr confederate-pride cookout, and months of watching George W.'s slight grin of "bipartisanship" pasted over his very partisan agenda, a Republican has finally had the courage to stand up and admit that the party he joined no longer exists. Exhausted by six months of Republican howlers -- those distortions, prevarications, hypocrisies, and Bushisms so blatant that even mildly informed observers burst into howls of laughter when they read them -- Jim Jeffords, Senator from Vermont, is expected to announce that he will leave the Republicans to become an Independent. The question now is, which howler did it? Here are my nominations, in something like chronological order: 1) "Compassionate Conservatism." 2) The notion that George W. Bush was going to return honor and integrity to the White House. An intellectual void surrounded by the people who brought you Iran-Contra is hardly a recipe for...

The Craven

Tuesday, as their party sold its constituents down the river on the John Ashcroft nomination, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton publicly recited the Edgar Allen Poe poem "The Raven" to their counterparts from Maryland. The New York senators had lost a bet over the Superbowl -- in which the New York Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens. At least the Baltimore Ravens know what good defense is. In the spirit of bipartisanship, we at The Electronic Policy Network offer our version: The Craven by Edgar Allen Woe Once upon a season dreary, while we pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of Florida electoral lore -- While they counted, nearly drooling, suddenly there came a ruling. As of Scalia sternly schooling, "No time to recount before the Yuling." "Quit your fooling," we muttered, "This must be some kind of partisan dueling -- Only this and nothing more." Ah,...

The Big Fold:

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee voted 10 to eight to send John Ashcroft's nomination for attorney general to the Senate floor. The "aye" votes included every Republican on the committee and Democratic Senator Russell Feingold. Feingold told the committee that he voted for Ashcroft because it is customary to give the president his cabinet. As he righteously explained, "The Senate has nearly uniformly sought to avoid disapproving nominations because of their philosophy alone, and I believe that we should not begin to do so now." Feingold warned that if Ashcroft didn't act as "the attorney general of all the people, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, I will seek to be the first to call him on it and demand that he be held accountable." Once Ashcroft is attorney general -- with Feingold's assistance -- it will be too late. He has already refused to be a leader for all the people, and Feingold declined to hold him accountable. John...

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