Ross Mackenzie

Items worthy of comment, direct or implied, on a late-November tree of plenty. . .

Kindly contemplate the great good news about Down syndrome detection. A $15-million, eight-year study of 38,000 women - the largest ever - has confirmed the ability of medical science to determine, now in the first trimester, whether a fetus is likely to be born with Down syndrome. It's huge. Notes Dr. Fergal Malone of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, who led the study: "This is going to have a big impact on care for women, not just in the United States but throughout the world."

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And this just in about neckties: (1) Our friends the Saudis ban them in Saudi Arabia as symbols of Zoroastrianism, a religion originating in the Persia that is today's Iran; (2) Iran bans them as symbols of the cross.

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Can an African-American be a Republican? In deep-blue Democratic Maryland, the answer is yes, but with difficulty. Michael Steele, an African-American, is the state's first Republican lieutenant governor. During the 2002 campaign resulting in his election, the Baltimore Sun dismissed him as bringing to the race little "but the color of his skin"; the president of the state senate termed him an "Uncle Tom"; attendees at a Morgan State College debate apparently pelted him with Oreo cookies.

Now Steele is running to succeed the retiring U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes - and the mean-spirited drumbeat goes on. Somehow the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, currently chaired by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, has obtained a copy of Steele's credit history. The FBI is investigating, as it should. Surely Martin Luther King had Republicans in mind, as well as Democrats, when he spoke of judging people by "the content of their character."

Maybe such rhetoric and antics explain in part why the Democratic National Committee, led by that distinguished moderate Howard Dean, trails its Republican counterpart in fund-raising by nearly 2-1 - even in the face of widely reported problems for the Republicans. This, from The Washington Post: "From January through September, the Republican National Committee raised $81.5 million, with $34 million remaining in the bank. The Democratic National Committee, by contrast, showed $42 million raised and $6.8 million in the bank."

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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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