Ross Mackenzie

Brief comments, direct or implied, about items large and small in the news . . .

— Prior to the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, the Obama campaign fretted that turnout in a demographic group key to its success might be damped down because of . . . exams.

— If Barack Obama wants to expand his appeal to that demographic, and at the same time to gain the benefit of the Clinton name without Hillary’s multitudinous luggage, maybe he should offer the veep spot to Chelsea.

— Talk about obscene executive compensation: Merrill Lynch’s new head of global sales and trading decided he would take the job for a 2008 guaranteed payout of $39.4 million.

— Three residents of the Aegean island of Lesbos, known as Lesbians, have sued the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece to bar it from employing the word “lesbian” — on the grounds that such usage defames them and their hetero affectional preferences.

— So-called social conservatives persist in their aloof disdain of John McCain. Incredibly, do they prefer a Clinton or Obama presidency?

— The superintendent of West Point says it’s time to replace men and boys in the Army school’s two favorite songs with gender-neutral words inoffensive to female cadets. Perhaps he has been in head-shed consultations with the Naval Academy’s commandant, who thinks it’s time for midshipmen (er, midship-persons) to drop “beat” from their cry of “Go Navy, Beat Army” — the notion that warriors should beat anybody these days being so, you know, mean.

— Abdullah Salim Ali al-Ajimi (involved in recent Baghdad suicide bombings) is but the latest of about 30 released Guantanamo detainees who have resumed terrorist killing for al-Qaida or the Taliban despite — before their release — signing pledges forswearing violence.

— A suburb of Santiago, Chile, is dispensing up to four Viagra pills each month to over-60 resident males because — in the mayor’s words — “an active sexuality improves the overall quality of life.”

— Animal-rights types are . . . let’s see: (1) insisting global warming demands that polar bears be added to the list of endangered species, even though the bears’ numbers are on the rise; (2) opposing the delisting of gray wolves in certain states where — having been reintroduced — they have proliferated and now are ravaging livestock; and (3) complaining that the U.S.-Mexico border fence not only will curb illegal immigrants but impede migrating wildlife.

— The U.S. Mint is contemplating the future of the penny and the nickel, whose per-copy labor and materials (97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper for the penny, 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel for the nickel) are money-losers. They now cost — respectively — 1.26 cents and 7.7 cents to produce.

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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