Ross Mackenzie
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A November cluster of comments on items in a leafy pile of news. . .

- $2.19 gasoline. Weren't you the one - and wasn't it your correspondent - who moaned when gas was $3.19 that we never would see it below $3 again?

- The sudden riots by primarily Muslim immigrants in France, with sympathetic flare-ups in Belgium and Germany, may derive from economics and discrimination. And Muslim clerics in Old Europe, appalled by the growth of democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, may have dispatched word to young jihadists.

- Yet how the riots must discomfit the aloof France, which insistently stayed out of the war to reduce the Saddamites in Iraq so as not to invite retribution upon France itself. Now the fire may have come to France, too, in the latest manifestation of al-Qaida's Way.

- The indictments of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff Scooter Libby set the mind to recalling the last famous Scooter. Ah, yes: Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto, the Yankees' fabulous midcentury shortstop. A younger version of your correspondent found a beagle puppy at a pound named Orphans of the Storm and named him Scooter after his favorite player on his favorite team.

- It seems the latter-day Scooter (Libby) is the author of "The Apprentice: A Novel," termed "sex-laden" by the good people at The Washington Post. These days Libby's book is so hot - albeit likely for reasons beyond sex - that eBay is offering it for a cool $2,400.

- A Congress that can pass a gun shield law - i.e., a statute protecting the nation's gun manufacturers from liability for the use of their products - surely ought to be able to pass a shield law protecting from prosecution reporters who refuse to divulge confidential sources. Any fair and just federal press shield law would have to deny blanket protection in cases directly affecting national security.

- Speaking of national security, Tokyo's governor, Shintaro Ishihara, showed up at Georgetown's Center for Strategic Studies the other day, and let China have it. He had, among others, these observations: (1) "Wars are wars of attrition of lives. China holds no value at all for human life and can start a war without any concerns. We are now in a state of tension far more dangerous than during the Cold War period when the United States and the former Soviet Union were at odds." And (2) "If tensions mount between the United States and China, the two sides could pull the trigger on each other. Then, the more the fire expands, the United States, which has a civil society that highly values human life, would not be able to win."

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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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