Ross Mackenzie

A random walk through a snarl of items currently in the news...

Add now the name Janice Brown to the lengthening list: Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, William Pryor, Charles Pickering, Claude Allen, Carolyn Kuhl, Henry Saad. All are Bush nominees disapproved by Senate Democrats for the federal bench because all share a moderate view of the law and a strict constructionist interpretation of it. The Democratic left terms them right-wing extremists (part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy"?).

Justice Brown is a member of the California Supreme Court nominated by President Bush for the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. She also is black. The 39-member Congressional Black Caucus, consisting entirely of Democrats, disses Justice Brown's 2000 majority opinion upholding a California referendum opposing racial preferences. Sounds as though, as in the case of Clarence Thomas, what the Caucus et al really resent - really fear - is a conservative black woman on an appellate court. It's not minorities leftists want on the courts, but minorities sharing their leftist biases.

And speaking of women on the bench, Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has thrown out a 1999 decision by the board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel six trademarks of the Washington Redskins. The judge said a group of activists provided insufficient evidence that the Skins' moniker implicitly or explicitly disparages American Indians. Though the judge stressed her 83-page opinion "should not be read as making any statement on the appropriateness of Native-American imagery for team names, at least one activist said the judge "brings a new low to the word 'ignorance.' " He and others are out for her scalp.

Wesley Clark is the latest politician to urge a national service plan, but it won't work any better than similar plans offered up by - most recently - Bill Clinton, President Bush, John McCain, John Edwards, John Kerry, Evan Bayh and Teddy Kennedy. Why? Because it, too, is voluntary. The current AmeriCorps is the latest disastrous example. And U.S. military forces are woefully thin, as the Pentagon's latest call-up of National Guard and Reserve forces amply testifies. The best way - the ONLY way - to implement a good idea is to make it compulsory for all young people 18 to 23, with a front-end 12-week military basic-training component followed by 40 weeks in any of an endless list of civilian give-back enterprises. For a need of this magnitude, voluntary won't cut it. President Bush should lead the way.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops have issued an 8,000-word statement urging Catholics to exercise "political responsibility" by involving themselves in forthcoming elections. Question: Is signifying for the flock's participation in politics a legitimate, prudent role for men of the cloth - shepherds - admonished to tend the flock's souls?

What a guy. Operatives for Cuba's top "hombre," Comrade Fidel, have been jamming Voice of America Farsi-language programming into Iran. The VOA's board chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, notes, "Cuba is obviously doing this at the behest of the mullahs in Iran. Iran needed someone in this hemisphere to do its dirty work. Castro is blocking Iranian audiences from gaining access to truthful news information" - which, given the extent to which he limits access to the truth in Cuba, is no surprise.

With Iran maybe coming around on nuclear enrichment - maybe - what about North Korea, now probably the baddest "rogue nation?"


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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