Ross Mackenzie

They used to talk about "Bush fatigue." Do you suffer yet from "Obama fatigue"? With Caroline Kennedy now returned to her private cabana after her perilous toe-dipping in the pool of public life, here's a blessed break from think-pieces about Barack Obama and "stimulus" plans that are but excuses for more federal spending.

These are not speculations but actual factuals . . .

-- The principal stimulus plan under congressional consideration includes $200 million for resodding the national mall. The job would require a lot of heavy lifting -- and, supposedly, new jobs.

-- The Illinois legislature is impeaching the state's governor, who has said -- among other comforting things -- he considered naming Oprah Winfrey to Obama's vacated Senate seat.

-- After 77 years, Toyota has surpassed General Motors as the world's largest automaker (8.8 million vehicles sold last year, to GM's 8.4 million). What's more, confusing buy-American urgings, Toyota's Sequoia is 80 percent American-made, compared with, for instance, that paradigmatic American label the Jeep (66 percent domestic, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

-- In a reminder that sociopolitics does indeed spew from the highest pulpits, the archbishop of Canterbury -- head of mainline Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide -- has criticized stimulus plans such as those in Britain and the U.S. Question: Why does anyone presumably in the principal business of saving souls offer any public opinion about stimulus plans at all?

-- The archbishop's regnant functionary in New Hampshire, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, accepted an invitation to give an Inauguration-related prayer at the Lincoln Memorial January 18, saying: "It will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community."

-- Obama still has trouble not smoking. Last month he told Tom Brokaw: "There are times when I have fallen off the wagon."

-- To aid France's ailing newspaper industry, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced (a) a ninefold increase in government support for newspaper deliveries that will include (b) free yearlong newspaper subscriptions to French teenagers when they turn 18.

-- So short of cash is California that beginning next week it may issue state tax refunds in the form of . . . IOUs.


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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