Ross Mackenzie
Much has gone down of late besides the sniper saga and laments about the imminent takedown of Saddam by the peace wing of the Democratic Party - notably the ululations of Messrs. Daschle and Gore. Are you still lying awake nights hungering for the again-reinvented Alpha Al of Naomi Wolf's imaginings? And there was that great statesman Tom Daschle, close to tears in two speeches on the Senate floor probably NOT because he really believes President Bush has impugned Democrats' patriotism, but rather because he sees - in some Democrats' pitiable response to calls for a regime change in Baghdad - the tear-jerking prospect of a regime change (to Republican control) in the Senate. Anyway, among other recent happenings: Georgia's Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat who ought to be a Republican, had this to say about the efforts of his party's peaceniks to shackle the president: "In the short time I've been here, I've never seen such a clear choice as there is on this issue. For me, there are no shades of gray. It is clear-cut. Why in the name of homeland security do we want to take power away from the president that he possessed on 9/11? Power that Jimmy Carter had. Power that Ronald Reagan had. Power that the first President Bush had and power that Bill Clinton had. Have we lost our minds?" One reason to change the Senate regime - maybe the principal reason - is the Senate Judiciary Committee's malign trashing of superior nominees to the federal bench. Both parties have played games with judicial nominees, but never to the current extent. Now Democratic extremists are going after Miguel Estrada, President Bush's nominee for the appellate court for the District of Columbia. Hardly a conservative loon, he has the liberal American Bar Association's highest rating (unanimously). He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He has the support of Gore's vice-presidential chief of staff. Yet committee lefties don't like him. After 16 months of delay, Estrada may get a post-recess committee vote. The only factor that might save him is the message a defeat by committee Democrats would send to Hispanic voters nationwide. As if that weren't bad enough, Harvard's president Lawrence Summers has descried - and decried - growing anti-Semitism on campuses around the country, including his own. There's a movement at Harvard to single out Israel by removing all Israeli investments from Harvard's endowment - a divestment drive recalling similar efforts against South Africa before apartheid's demise. Even at Harvard, sleeper anti-Semitism - so evident in so much otherwise idiot support for the Palestinians as against the Israelis - may be rousing from its slumbers. And from elsewhere on the religious front, these bulletins: (1) Regarding Catholicism, Baltimore's cardinal recently disclosed that during the past 20 years his archdiocese has spent $5.6 million on settlements and counseling relating to largely homosexual abuse of children by 56 priests and members of Catholic religious orders. (2) Regarding Protestantism, the director of the center that conducts a decennial study of religious affiliation said of the study based on the 2000 Census: "I was astounded to see that by and large the growing churches are those that we ordinarily call conservative. And when I looked at those that were declining, most were moderate or liberal churches. And the more liberal the denomination, by most people's definition, the more they were losing." Across the land, some localities are sanctioning the widespread, out-of-season killing of white-tailed deer. (Some communities are bringing in bowhunters to get the job done with dispatch.) One reason: chronic wasting disease - a neurological infection that affects deer brains. The disease is decimating some herds. The lamentable consequence may have a silver lining: the reduction of a deer population now larger than at the Founding - a population with greatly diminished numbers of natural enemies, protected by our laws, and fed by our ornamentals and crops. A deer population say one-tenth its current size might lead to robust specimens far less likely to produce death on the highways and devastation among milady's landscaping. One of the best presidential initiatives, going hand-in-glove with the first lady's efforts to boost reading, consists in encouraging (a) a renewed emphasis on the study of (primarily American) history and (b) an appeal for the revival of civics. Historian David McCullough, biographer of John Adams and Harry Truman, said this in a Rose Garden announcement of the presidential initiative: "I don't think there is any question that students in our institutions of higher learning have less grasp of, less understanding of, and less respect for American history than ever before. To our shame, we're raising a generation of young Americans who are, to a very large degree, historically illiterate." In a New York City pilot program, school superintendents may get bonuses if history and other test scores in their districts improve significantly - bonuses up to $40,000. Says the head of the city's schools: "It's the way most systems of accountability and reward work in America, and we want to make sure that those rewards are here for people who really outperform and create the kinds of results that we really demand for our children." Performance contracting in education - a good idea. We'll soon see if it works. Oh, and there's yet another effort under way, this time by a bunch of far-out feminist lobbies, to force women into the membership of Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club - site of the Masters tournament. So far they're shooting way over par generally, and especially in their effort to enlist Tiger Woods in their cause. One doesn't necessarily have to rejoice in a single-gender policy to acknowledge that private clubs - like the 60-plus private women's colleges - are protected in their right of assembly not only by right reason but the law.

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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