Ross Mackenzie

Of course, there’s always — inevitably? — Hillary Clinton. Among her Senate efforts this fall was to add a $1 million federal earmark for a museum at the site of the 1969 Woodstock love-in and zone-out concert in upstate New York. Even this Senate killed the earmark — perhaps not so much because it would have been idiotic federal spending, as because the site is owned by a Clinton donor who, worth $1.3 billion — easily could finance the museum himself.

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And speaking of Giuliani and Sen. Clinton, an inquiry. Perhaps the single-naming phenomenon began with Elvis and Ann-Margret — and followed, in the entertainment realm, with Cher, Bono and Oprah. Will the race for the presidency reduce to one without surnames — Rudy vs. Hillary?

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A potpourri of items affecting the young: (a) Sixth- through eighth-grade girls at King Middle School in Portland, Maine now can get a birth-control patch or pill simply for the asking — and parents will not be notified. (b) A Colorado Springs elementary school has banned tag on the playground; running is OK, but no chasing. Other schools around the country have banned, among other things: teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, crawl-tubes, sandboxes, swings, and (oh, yes) hugs.

(c) In Philadelphia, the Boy Scouts’ Cradle of Liberty Council soon may be booted from the Beaux-Art building its headquarters has called home for $1 a year since 1928. Reason? The Scouts’ policy relating to homosexuality, sustained seven years ago by the Supreme Court because the Boy Scouts is a private organization. Philadelphia’s solicitor says the Scouts’ policy violates the city’s “fair practices” law: “We will not subsidize (the Scouts’) discrimination by passing on the costs to the people of Philadelphia.”

And (d) the National Endowment for the Arts has issued a new report, “To Read or Not to Read” — on reading proficiency among pupils and students. NEA chairman Dana Gioia sums up the findings: “We are doing a better job of teaching kids to read in elementary school. But once they enter adolescence, they fall victim to a general culture which does not encourage or reinforce reading. Because these people then read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they do more poorly in school, in the job market, and in civic life.”

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Probably no one ever would have thunk it, but now one of the worst evils on the planet supposedly is . . . corn. Really. Prices are up not only for corn but other commodities, because the more corn that is planted the less room, e.g., for soybeans — and so soybean prices rise. High-fructose corn syrup contributes to national obesity. The conversion of corn to biofuels such as ethanol — so long ballyhooed by environmentalists — now is running into doubts about practicality and air pollution, not to mention water pollution caused by fertilizer runoff.

“The gist of the criticism,” according to a page-one story in The Washington Post: “So much corn, doing so many things, serving as both food and fuel, and backed by billions of dollars in government subsidies, has been bad for America and the rest of the world.” Oh dear.


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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